Canada

Rafferty 'very upset' after 1st police interview

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details. The man accused of killing and sexually assaulting Victoria (Tori) Stafford appeared distraught after he was first interviewed by police concerning the eight-year-old's disappearance, a former girlfriend testifies.

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details

Victoria (Tori) Stafford disappeared outside her elementary school in Woodstock, Ont., on April 8, 2009. Her remains were discovered more than three months later. (The Canadian Press)

The man accused of killing and sexually assaulting Victoria (Tori) Stafford appeared distraught after he was first interviewed by police concerning the eight-year-old's disappearance, a former girlfriend testified in London, Ont., on Tuesday.

Michael Rafferty, 31, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping, was first contacted by police on May 15, 2009, more than a month after the Grade 3 student disappeared outside her school in Woodstock, Ont.

"He just was very upset that the police had come to the door and questioned him about Tori," said Joy Woods, who first met with Rafferty on April 16, 2009, after connecting through a dating website.  

Tori disappeared outside her elementary school in Woodstock, Ont., on April 8, 2009. Her remains were found more than three months later in a rural area outside Mount Forest, 100 kilometres north of her home.

Woods explained that she and Rafferty had discussed Tori following her disappearance and both had expressed hope for her safe return.

Woods also testified that she was with Rafferty when he was arrested on the evening of May 19, 2009, after another woman, Terri-Lynne McClintic, implicated him in Tori's death. Woods said she had "no idea" what was happening.

McClintic, 21, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder two years ago in connection with Tori's death and is serving a life sentence.

Rafferty worked near body site

Earlier Tuesday, jurors heard more about Rafferty's connection to the area where Tori's remains were ultimately found.

Jennifer Etsell, 30, told the court Tuesday she dated Rafferty for about five months in 2006. At the time she was living in Hanover, north of Mount Forest, while Rafferty was living in Guelph.

Etsell says she would pick up Rafferty and drive him along Highway 6 to her home, a route that runs through Mount Forest and comes close to where Tori's body was found.

The two would often stop in the community for a break, she said.

On cross-examination, Etsell said they remained on the highway during their travels.

Court has previously been told Rafferty worked for a time as a landscaper at a landfill less than five kilometres away from where Tori's body was found.

McClintic testified last month that she lured Tori to Rafferty's car the day she went missing. The pair then drove the Grade 3 student first to Guelph and later to an area southeast of Mount Forest where Tori was allegedly raped in Rafferty's vehicle.

McClintic told jurors she kicked the girl and hit her in the head with a hammer.

Rafferty's trial, which began in early March, continues in London.

now