A police officer testified Thursday at the trial of Michael Rafferty that Victoria (Tori) Stafford’s mother recognized the woman — who later pleaded guilty to first-degree murder — spotted walking with her daughter on the day she disappeared.
Rafferty has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and abduction. His trial began Monday.
Tori was a Grade 3 student who disappeared after leaving Oliver Stephens Public School in Woodstock, Ont., on April 8, 2009.
Her family reported her disappearance to police that same night, which prompted a massive search for the missing eight-year-old.
Tori’s remains were found three months later near Mount Forest, Ont., more than 100 kilometres north of the city.
Det. Const. Sean Kelly told the court Thursday that from the start of the investigation he was in daily contact with Tori’s family, including her mother, Tara McDonald.
The day after Tori went missing, police released a surveillance video that was captured by cameras at a nearby high school.
The video showed Tori walking in the company of a young woman who was wearing a white jacket on the day she disappeared.
Kelly said that McDonald notified police on April 12 that she believed the woman in the video was Terri-Lynne McClintic.
Earlier this week, McDonald testified that prior to her daughter's abduction, she had met McClintic twice — when she accompanied her partner to buy OxyContin from McClintic's mother and to discuss breeding dogs.
Kelly said McDonald recognized the jacket McClintic was wearing and the way she walked.
Following up on the tip from Tori’s mother, Kelly said police found that McClintic had an outstanding warrant for breach of a probation order.
Kelly said McClintic was subsequently arrested on her outstanding warrant.
McClintic’s resumé listed babysitting work
Kelly interviewed McClintic after her arrest and asked her activities and whereabouts on the day Tori disappeared.
McClintic then told police that she had visited an employment centre at 2:19 p.m. that afternoon.
A copy of McClintic’s resumé was shown to the court.
It listed prior work experience as an industrial cleaner, a kitchen assistant, customer service at a Tim Hortons restaurant in Parry Sound, Ont., and work as a babysitter.
Under the education section of her resumé, McClintic indicated she was preparing to write her GED (General Educational Development) test.
McClintic writes on form that she's prone to anger
The court was also shown a form that McClintic filled out at the employment centre, in which she checked “I tend to become angry easily,” but also wrote that she had been able “to maintain control over situations.”
McClintic had also sent a Facebook message to a friend earlier that afternoon, suggesting that they meet up for drinks at some point. The message was sent at 1:21 p.m.
She had also written on Facebook about being unemployed and living in Woodstock.
McClintic would eventually plead guilty to the first-degree murder of Tori in April 2010.
The Crown has said that McClintic will be called to testify in this trial, which is expected to last several months.
Judge Thomas Heeney has told jurors McClintic would likely testify next next Tuesday.
In court on Thursday, Kelly became choked up when he described the moment that police learned they were not going to find Tori alive.
"The investigation went from an abduction investigation to a homicide investigation," said Kelly.
He said that “overwhelmed” police officers in Woodstock worked 16 to 20 hours each day when they first began looking for Tori.
“We did the best we could,” he said.
The Ontario Provincial Police were called in about a week after Tori went missing, to help with the case.
Kelly was the seventh person that the Crown called to testify in the trial and the last to do so this week.
The trial will continue next week.
Outside court, Tori’s dad, Rodney Stafford, was asked what he thought when he saw the officer fighting his emotions in court on Thursday.
“It hurt,” replied Stafford, who said the officers have been under the strain of the investigation into his daughter’s disappearance and death for nearly three years.
“These guys are human, too,” he said. “It’s affected a lot of these officers in ways that people couldn’t imagine.”
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