05/13/2012 04:00 EDT | Updated 07/12/2012 05:12 EDT

Michael Rafferty And Terri-Lynne McClintic: Tragedy, Violence Struck After 'Murderous Duo' Met

LONDON, Ont. - Michael Rafferty had apparently for years harboured pedophilic interests and a propensity for sexual violence.

Terri-Lynne McClintic had for years harboured fantasies of torturing innocent victims and cultivated the ability to suppress any emotion that wasn't anger.

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

They came together in a chance encounter on Feb. 4, 2009, at a pizza shop in Woodstock, Ont., and two months later they teamed up to abduct, sexually assault and murder eight-year-old Victoria Stafford.

No one knows what would have happened if Rafferty and McClintic had never met, but as suggested by a police officer who interrogated Rafferty, tragedy struck when each of their particular brands of depravity collided.

"What's happened here is because of who's meshed together," Ontario Provincial Police Det. Const. Gord Johnson told Rafferty after his arrest. "The two of you are not a good mix."

Only two living people know for sure who actually wielded the hammer that killed Tori Stafford, but with guilty verdicts Friday night for Rafferty on first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping, a jury signalled it believed the two worked together to bring about the little girl's death.


The Tori Stafford Trial, In Photos

It places them in a rare class of murderers with Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka: couples who kill.

On the surface there are some similarities between Rafferty and McClintic and the sadistic plots of Canada's most notorious killer couple — the pair worked in tandem to commit unspeakable crimes, but they pointed the finger at each other for being the actual killer, young female victims were sexually violated before they were brutally killed, and court proceedings were subject to controversial publication bans.

Stephen Williams, as the author of two books on the Bernardo-Homolka murders, has researched the rare breed of couples who kill together. Williams makes no comparisons between the "awful, terrible tragedy" of Tori's death and the "unholy crime spree extravaganza" upon which Bernardo and Homolka embarked.

The dynamics of the couples' relationships are quite different, but what Williams sees as all killer couples having in common is that their motives defy explanation. Who knows what it is about two particular loathsome people that leads to tragedy when they unite, he said.

"The whole is greater than the sum of the parts," Williams said in an interview. "It's the psychiatric theory folie a deux (a shared psychiatric disorder), but...there's all kinds of people that have bizarre tendencies that hook up and get together but they don't go out and rape and murder girls."

Rafferty and McClintic's brief but twisted pairing began in that pizza shop, when he called her a "pretty little number," according to McClintic. Then they had sex in his car.

Rafferty climbed on top of McClintic and began to choke her, she reported. McClintic returned home not long after, with cold pizza and "Mike's" number written in the box. She didn't know his last name, but he didn't really talk much about himself, she said.

Eighteen-year-old McClintic wasn't the first young woman Rafferty choked during sex. In all, 12 other women reported being choked by him. Some consented, others didn't. One woman signed a note consenting to "sexual choking and passing out," while another alleged he drugged, choked and raped her.

It seemed that in McClintic, who was angry, violent and had a criminal record, Rafferty had finally found someone with whom he could share his disturbed leanings, the Crown suggested at his trial. McClintic was willing to do anything for a little bit of love, though it's likely she was an even more willing participant to Tori's killing than she let on, the Crown said.

Little is known about Rafferty's background. He grew up in communities in the Toronto area, but for an unknown reason was sent to live with an aunt and an uncle in the country — not far from Tori's murder scene — during middle school.

Rafferty lived in Guelph, Ont., for a few years while in his 20's, working for a short time at a meat processing plant and for a few seasons at a landscaping company. He told some women he had degrees in kinesiology and culinary arts, but it's not clear if that was true.

Conversely, much of McClintic's young life is officially documented, as authorities were involved from the get-go.

Her birth mother was a stripper who gave her up to a fellow stripper, Carol McClintic. Terri-Lynne McClintic says her adoptive mother gave up the trade when she started to care for the baby, but life would be anything but stable.

McClintic grew up shuttled between eight different communities, bouncing from Carol McClintic's home to foster care, back home and back to foster care again. Violence was prevalent, as were Carol McClintic's drinking and drug habits.

Terri-Lynne McClintic picked up on those habits early, starting to use marijuana at age eight. She would go on to consume an astonishing amount of drugs in her formative years, moving on to cocaine, ecstasy, morphine, OxyContin — whatever was most readily available wherever she found herself living.

The first time McClintic got into trouble with the police was when she stole some toys from a hardware store at age 10.

When she was 11, McClintic went into a foster home after reporting that her mother has been physically and verbally abusing her every day for the past two years. The following year Carol McClintic was arrested for public intoxication after police see a 12-year-old Terri-Lynne running away from her intoxicated mother.

A few months later, her mother's boyfriend gets drunk and threatens to slit McClintic's throat. He is criminally charged.

Today McClintic cites very few positive influences in her life. She names a godmother and a man who died when she was young. She stopped going to school full-time after Grade 8. Around the same time she overdosed on drugs and lost portions of her memory.

McClintic spent an inordinate amount of time either meting out violence or finding herself on the receiving end of it. As a child she microwaved a dog until it screamed. It had to be put down but she blamed the dog's injuries on an attack from another dog.

Her first criminal charge came at age 15, when she flew into a rage after being asked to move out of her mother's boyfriend's house — the same boyfriend who had threatened two years prior to slit her throat — and punched her mother in the face so hard that she fractured Carol McClintic's cheekbone.

Another assault charge for McClintic came the following year when she attacked someone at a youth residence. Four months later McClintic punched another girl in the face in an unprovoked assault. In the next few months she added three more assault charges after incidents at her youth detention centre, kicking one person in the head while they were on the ground and punching another in the nose.

Then in 2007 in Woodstock she tied a bandana around her face, mugged two men and when one resisted she stabbed him in the back with a paring knife. When police arrive to arrest her at gun point she hits one of the officers in the back of the head.

McClintic spent the next while in a youth detention centre, cultivating her gangster image, forcing other inmates to give her their medication and writing increasingly disturbing letters about torture fantasies.

"I juz wanna be on road n take the first person I see, grab em...bring em wit me (and)...mutilate the (expletive) out of them, smash (their) skull apart then piece it togetha like a puzzle that way (they) stay conscious of the pain I'm inflictin on em,'' McClintic wrote in March 2008.

When she got out, and in the months leading up to Tori's death on April 8, 2009, McClintic resumed her daily routine of getting high in the decrepit home she shared with her mother and dealing OxyContin with her as well.

Painkillers were a big part of Rafferty's life too by the spring of 2009. After his arrest he told an undercover police officer he was taking either five 80-milligram "Oxys" or 11 to 12 40-milligram pills a day. If he had Percocet, he said he was taking 20 to 30 a day. A few days after Rafferty and McClintic first met he showed up at her house asking why she hadn't called and asking if she could get him some OxyContin.

Other than drugs, the prevailing themes in Rafferty's life were women and sexual paraphilias. Though later in his life, particularly in the months leading up to Tori's death and in the weeks after Rafferty bounced from woman to woman with astonishing speed, online diaries of a young woman detail a relationship she had with Rafferty for more than two years starting when he was 22.

They lived together for a while and she reported he was paranoid about her cheating on him. They also shared a computer, and while logged on under her profile, it appears the girlfriend researched veterinary schools, posted the online diaries and downloaded some Hollywood movies. Rafferty's profile, on the other hand, was used to access an enormous amount of child pornography.

After they broke up, computer records show he began searching for massage parlours and escort websites.

He then flooded the social networking and dating websites, setting up profiles and writing out long descriptions of himself, replete with misspellings, often proclaiming to value friendship above all else and describing himself as a hopeless romantic who wore his heart on his sleeve.

He looked for women on dating sites known more for facilitating sexual encounters than long-term relationships and he also trolled Christian dating websites.

Communications show that Rafferty was constantly on his BlackBerry and on dating websites juggling as many women as he possibly could, up to seven or possibly more at once. He told them he was a dance teacher and a contractor and he was using his phone to schedule lessons and jobs. But Rafferty also betrayed a neediness and desperation, begging some of the women to return his calls even after they said they weren't interested.

In the year leading up to Rafferty's arrest he dated Charity Spitzig while seeing all sorts of other women. She thought they were exclusive and to help him out financially she began working as an escort and gave him her earnings, to the tune of more than $16,000 in about six months. Banking records indicate he likely used this money to take the other women out on dates and buy clothing for himself and other girlfriends.

Though none of the long stream of ex-girlfriends who testified at Rafferty's trial discussed why their relationships with him ended — except for the ones who were still with him before he got arrested — evidence that the jury at his trial didn't get to see may provide some clues.

According to the Crown, 13 women who were involved with Rafferty at various points reported that he had a penchant for choking them during sex. Some of the women said they consented, others said they did not. Rafferty even apparently had one woman whom he had just met sign a consent note before they had sex.

"I...agree to what Mike and I are doing tonight sexual choking and passing out and other things," read the note.

Some women Rafferty dated reported his "disconcerting" behaviour toward their children, the Crown said. In January 2009 a woman Rafferty met online alleged in a police report that he drugged, choked and raped her, but he was not charged.

An exhaustive search of Rafferty's laptop and the hard drive of an old computer from several years prior to Tori's death suggests wide sexual interests, from "golden showers," a sex act involving urination, to necrophilia and epilepsy porn.

But the computer evidence suggests a prevailing sexual interest in children. Police found Rafferty had downloaded or viewed a substantial amount of child pornography on his computers, and the vast majority of the filenames suggest a focus on incest. Search queries such as "real underage rape pictures" and "nude preteen" were entered on his computer in the weeks leading up to Tori's murder.

And so the two "pathetic misfits," as Woodstock Police Chief Rod Freeman called them, met in February 2009, bringing together their own reprehensible behaviours. They would form what the Crown termed a "murderous duo."

In testimony at Rafferty's trial McClintic said she cared for him, though by her account he seemed to strike just enough of a balance between putting her down and making her feel good to keep her looking to him for love.

He referred to their pairing as "Lucifer meets the bible thumper," McClintic said. But he also asked her to spend a night at a motel with him, telling her he wanted to wake up next to her, she said.

McClintic said there were things about Rafferty that she ignored because she wanted to have finally found a good man, but it's not as if Rafferty was going to great lengths to hide his sexual proclivities. He would drive past schools and talk about how easy it would be to snatch a child, she said.

He would park outside houses and describe for her the floor plan, saying he knew a lot of single mothers and it would be easy to tie someone up and take them, McClintic said. Rafferty asked her if it would be weird if he asked her about kidnapping someone, she said.

Rafferty did talk about kidnapping people with at least one other girlfriend, court heard. But that relationship only lasted about two weeks. When he talked about kidnapping with McClintic, she apparently thought nothing of it.

Evidence not entered in court suggests most of the women Rafferty choked broke up with him shortly thereafter. McClintic didn't.

"He picked the right partner for this enterprise," Crown attorney Kevin Gowdey told the jury in urging them to find Rafferty guilty.

Rafferty and McClintic's relationship didn't end after the brazen kidnapping, sexual assault and unimaginably violent murder of Tori Stafford. In fact, it seemed to strengthen it.

Before the murder their relationship was casual, both hesitating to even call themselves boyfriend and girlfriend. When they saw each other they would drive around in his car or get drugs and on one occasion they saw a movie and had sex in the theatre.

After the murder phone records show they were in constant communication, even when McClintic was arrested four days after they killed Tori on an unrelated matter. She would frequently phone him from the detention centre and he would often call her. McClintic even put Rafferty on the approved visitor's list, a privilege normally reserved for family, calling him her boyfriend.

Rafferty even went to visit her there twice. He greeted McClintic with lingering hugs, they laughed and joked and he flexed his biceps for her. He asked if he could bring her flowers there, McClintic testified, but he wasn't allowed.

Even to all of his other girlfriends he couldn't stop talking about McClintic, they testified. To some he referred to her by name, to others he just talked about the girl he knew in a detention centre whose life he was really hoping to help turn around.

What would happen if police figure out it's you on the surveillance video leading Tori away from school, McClintic said Rafferty asked her on a visit to the detention centre.

"I said that I would take the fall for everything, that I would say it was all me. He had more to lose than I did," she testified. "I said, 'Don't worry about it, it's OK. It's OK. I'm just an 18-year-old junkie anyways.'"

The last time Rafferty visited McClintic at the detention centre, before he cut off communication with her once police first interviewed him, and before McClintic confessed to their roles in Tori's murder, McClintic said Rafferty told her something she will never forget.

"He looked up and almost like laughed at me and said, 'You'll do anything for a little bit of love, eh?'"