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Michael Rafferty Trial: Detective Constable Sean Kelly Tears Up During Tori Stafford Testimony

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Police hold a press conference during the investigation into Tori Stafford's disappearance. Michael Rafferty is currently standing trial for the girl's murder.
Police hold a press conference during the investigation into Tori Stafford's disappearance. Michael Rafferty is currently standing trial for the girl's murder.

LONDON, Ont. - A huge contingent of police officers worked flat out for up to 20 hours a day over six weeks in hopes of finding eight-year-old Victoria Stafford alive, so it was a crushing blow when a young woman confessed the girl was dead, court heard Thursday.

Tori was supposed to have walked with her brother from school to their mom's new home on April 8, 2009, but a few minutes after the dismissal bell rang, the 10-year-old couldn't find her.

The boy rode around the neighbourhood on a bicycle looking for her, court heard.

By then, Tori was already being driven from her school in Woodstock, Ont., by Michael Rafferty and his girlfriend Terri-Lynne McClintic, then 18, the Crown alleges.

From April 8 until McClintic confessed on May 19, police held out hope Tori was alive somewhere.

"The investigation went from an abduction investigation to a homicide investigation," Det. Const. Sean Kelly testified, his voice trembling with emotion.

"It was quite significant and it had ... a pretty big impact."

Kelly choked up and had difficulty speaking, so he paused, staring at the ceiling and trying to blink away tears.

"I'm good," he said eventually. "We'll continue."

Woodstock police called in Ontario Provincial Police after about a week, and for those first several days in particular, "overwhelmed" officers worked 16 to 20 hours a day, Kelly testified.

"We did the best that we could," he said.

Kelly was the last witness to testify this week at Rafferty's trial, which has already heard from Tori's mother Tara McDonald, Tori's teacher, other police officers and a parent at Tori's school who saw McClintic — an unknown woman to her at the time — lead the Grade 3 student away.

Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping.

McClintic pleaded guilty in April 2010 to first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence. She is set to take the stand when Rafferty's trial resumes on Tuesday.

Before she abducted Tori on April 8, McClintic spent time at an employment centre, where she handed in a resume listing babysitting as a previous job and filled out a forms indicating she was on social assistance, and had anger issues, court heard.

Documents show McClintic arrived at the employment centre at 2:19 p.m. She was seen on surveillance video leading Tori away from school at 3:32 p.m.

According to the documents, McClintic said she had last worked for three weeks in November 2008 at ATS Reliance in Cambridge, Ont., as an industrial cleaner.

She expressed interest in getting her high school equivalency and in taking training needed to serve alcohol.

She filled out a form indicating she is a non-status aboriginal, was on social assistance and had only completed Grade 9, but was interested in labour or "hand on" work, expecting to be paid about $10 an hour.

Her questionnaire indicated employers would consider her a good candidate and that she was "highly motivated" to find work.

"I'd like to explore my option for a more permanent place of employment and am willing to go to all means," McClintic wrote.

McClintic checked off a box next to the line "I have no personal issues that would affect my ability to find or keep a job," but apparently decided against that and crossed it off.

She also checked off the box next to "I tend to become angry easily," and wrote in by hand: "But have been able to maintain control over situations."

McClintic's resume lists her "highlights of qualifications" as "outgoing, energetic and a quick learner," "constantly seeking new challenges" and "perfectionist and only satisfied when my best effort is put forth."

In addition to her brief stint as an industrial cleaner, McClintic worked as a babysitter for various families in September and October of 2008 as well as the summers of 2001, 2002 and 2003 caring for children between eight months and five years of age.

She also listed experience as a kitchen assistant at Bass Lake House Restaurant in Muskoka from July to November 2005 and at Tim Hortons in Parry Sound, Ont., from June 2003 to July 2005.

McClintic made a follow-up appointment at the employment centre for April 16, but by then she was already in custody.

Tori's mother testified Wednesday that when the surveillance video was released to the public, a friend told her it looked like McClintic, so she phoned police.

They found there was a warrant out for McClintic's arrest for a parole violation, breach of custody and supervision. She was arrested April 12 and has been in custody since, having confessed to the murder on May 19.

Tori's body was found naked from the waist down in garbage bags under a pile of rocks in a field more than 100 kilometres north of Woodstock. She had been killed by multiple blows to the head with a hammer, but she also had blunt injuries to her body that lacerate her liver and fractured her ribs — injuries that could have been fatal on their own, court has heard.

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