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Michael Rafferty Trial: Call Places Suspect Near Tori Stafford Crime Scene

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MICHAEL RAFFERTY
On Thursday, the Michael Rafferty trial turned its attention to the suspect's cellphone. | CP

LONDON, Ont. - Cellphone records for the man accused of killing Victoria Stafford show he appeared to trace a route from Woodstock, Ont., to Mount Forest, Ont., and back on April 8, 2009 — the same route the Crown alleges he took to abduct and kill the eight-year-old, court heard Thursday.

WARNING: Graphic details from this court case may disturb some readers.

A call was made on Michael Rafferty's phone to his own number, a way of checking voicemail, at 7:47 p.m. that night and the call was routed through a tower near Mount Forest, his trial was told.

That call was the key to police finding Tori's remains more than three months later, court has heard. Police had been scouring a wide area just to the south of the Mount Forest area, but the discovery in July 2009 of the record of that call pointed them a bit further north.

The Crown alleges that Rafferty and then-girlfriend Terri-Lynne McClintic kidnapped Tori outside her school in Woodstock at 3:32 p.m., drove east to Guelph, Ont., where Rafferty stopped to buy Percocets from an ex-girlfriend and McClintic bought a hammer and garbage bags at a Home Depot. She can be seen on surveillance video entering the store shortly after 5 p.m.

From there Rafferty drove north through the town of Fergus, Ont., pulling off a side road onto a laneway that led him into a secluded farmer's field southeast of Mount Forest, the Crown alleges. Rafferty would have known the area, having lived and worked around there, court has heard.

It was there that Rafferty allegedly raped the girl, court was told. McClintic, who is already serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree murder, testified that she then killed Tori with the hammer. She had maintained until January of this year that Rafferty was the one who killed the girl.

Rafferty's BlackBerry saw a flurry of activity April 8, as it did most days, court has heard. Ex-girlfriends have testified that he was constantly using his phone, mostly to text, and his cellphone bill from April 18 to May 19, 2009, the day of his arrest, shows he racked up nearly 3,000 minutes.

On the day Tori disappeared, he sent and received dozens of text messages from morning to night and exchanged dozens of notes with one woman on BlackBerry messenger, records show.

Rafferty made 14 almost back-to-back phone calls to six different phone numbers between 11:13 a.m. and 12:06 p.m., most lasting about 30 seconds. Cell tower data shows that all of those calls were made in Woodstock. The next voice activity on the phone was at 4:19 p.m., when a call was made to his own number, but at that time the phone was in Guelph.

McClintic testified that Rafferty took the battery out of his phone as they left Woodstock, but put it back in when he stopped outside of the house where he bought Percocets.

There was data activity on his phone starting at 5:03 p.m., which court has heard was roughly the time Rafferty and McClintic arrived at a Home Depot in Guelph, where she bought garbage bags and a hammer.

There is no further voice or data activity — using a phone to connect to the Internet — until the 7:47 p.m. call, records show.

Other voice and data calls move in chronological order south to Guelph, where a call is made at 8:45 p.m. and one is received at 8:49 p.m. Further data activity suggests Rafferty's phone arrived back in Woodstock at about 11:30 p.m.

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

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