Rodney Stafford, the father of eight-year-old Tori Stafford, who disappeared outside her Woodstock, Ont., school three years ago, said he felt a mixture of elation and sadness Friday after the man accused of sexually assaulting and killing his daughter was found guilty of the crimes.
"Don't thank me, thank the Crown. I had a lot of faith in them," Stafford told a throng of reporters outside the London, Ont., courthouse where Michael Rafferty was convicted in the kidnapping, sexual assault causing bodily harm and first-degree murder of the Grade 3 student.
'It makes me feel like I can breathe again. Tori has justice, and that's all that we ever wanted'—Doreen Graichen, Tori Stafford's grandmother
Asked how he felt when the verdict was read aloud, Stafford said he was overcome with emotion.
"I wanted to scream — scream something in the courtroom," he said, adding that he felt "happy" and longed to go on with his life.
"But at the same time there was a sense of loss because Tori's not coming home," he said, his voice breaking with emotion.
"But we got it. We got the justice."
Grandmother grateful for 'amazing' support
Doreen Graichen, the girl's grandmother, said her spirits were buoyed by the support she saw from across Canada, and even from people from other countries following the trial.
"What we've been feeling inside for the last three years has been hell," she said. "This has been a release for us and it's just amazing, just amazing. Everybody has been so wonderful with us."
Michael Rafferty now faces a mandatory life sentence. Do you agree with the verdict?
Graichen thanked the jurors, the judge and a "marvelous" Crown team, adding that she felt no ill will towards the defence.
"The defence even did their job and they were wonderful," she said.
"It makes me feel like I can breathe again. Tori has justice, and that's all that we ever wanted."
As for what words she would have for Deborah Murphy, Rafferty's mother, who had insisted she believed her son's innocence, Graichen alluded to disturbing internet searches on the convicted killer's laptop. The overall evidence shown during the trial — and even the information withheld from the jury — speaks for itself, she said.
"I hope that she really takes a good look at the videos that were released, takes a look at all the evidence, the things that were on [Rafferty's] computer in her house, and she will hopefully reconsider," Graichen said.