Tori Stafford abduction details revealed
Terri-Lynne McClintic apologizes for death of 'precious little angel'
Victoria Stafford was walking to her mother's new home alone for the first time when Terri-Lynne McClintic stopped her and began chatting.
"I didn't wake up that morning thinking I was going to take a child," McClintic told a court back in April.
That fateful encounter between McClintic and the eight-year-old girl, who was called Tori by family and friends, took place near a school in Woodstock, Ont., on April 8, 2009. The two were captured walking together by a surveillance camera and the footage broadcast by media outlets across Canada.
Details of what took place in the hours leading up to and following Tori's abduction are being made public for the first time after a sweeping publication ban was lifted after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal Thursday.
On April 30, McClintic, 20, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of the girl, whose disappearance captured the country's attention for months as search parties scoured the area around Woodstock, located southwest of Toronto.
Before Tori's body was found, McClintic was charged along with her boyfriend, Michael Thomas C.S. Rafferty, 30. He was charged with abduction and first-degree murder.
Rafferty's lawyer, Dirk Derstine, said Thursday his client intends to plead not guilty and will be "vigorously contesting all the allegations that are before him."
No chance of parole for 25 years
After being convicted of first-degree murder, McClintic was given a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, which carries the chance of parole in 25 years.
The controversial publication ban imposed by Ontario Court Justice Dougald McDermid on the proceedings that took place in April prevented media outlets from even reporting that McClintic had appeared in court on April 30, or that she had entered a plea.
According to an agreed statement of facts presented to the court, Tori was the first child McClintic saw walking toward her outside Oliver Stephens Public School on April 8, 2009.
For the first time, the Grade 3 student didn't have her older brother, Daryn, accompanying her on the walk home. She was walking alone, to her mother's new house on Fyfe Avenue, not far from her school. Some friends were supposed to come over that night to watch movies.
But at 3:32 p.m., minutes after school was dismissed, a surveillance camera from a nearby school captured Tori walking northbound on Fyfe Avenue with McClintic.
McClintic says she introduced herself as "T" to Tori. The young girl shared that her name was Victoria, but everyone called her Tori. The conversation then turned to dogs, with McClintic telling the girl she had a shih tzu named Precious. Tori indicated she wanted to see the dog.
The two then walked out of the camera's view toward a retirement home parking lot.
Surveillance video draws tips
According to the agreed statement of facts, Tori was then taken to Guelph and eventually to a remote spot north of Guelph. An investigator would later find the girl's remains under a rock pile near Sixth Concession Road in Arthur Township. Details of her death are covered by a publication ban.
The day after Tori's disappearance, police escalated the investigation to a possible abduction and released the surveillance video. Early tips suggested McClintic may have been the woman seen walking with Tori.
Four days after Tori went missing, on April 12, the Oxford Community Police Service brought McClintic in for questioning. They held her in custody on an unrelated arrest warrant and she's been behind bars ever since.
About a month later, McClintic took a polygraph test and admitted she was the woman in the video. Police arrested her for abduction and accessory to murder. Those charges were later dropped and the more serious first-degree murder charge laid.
McClintic said in court she confessed to try to make things right.
"Enough people have been hurt as a result of this and I refuse to drag anyone through the proceedings of a trial," McClintic said. "Spending the next few decades of my life in prison is nothing compared to what Tori was robbed of."
McClintic tries to help investigators
In the weeks after she confessed, McClintic tried to help officers locate Stafford's remains, accompanying them to the area where she thought Tori's body was left north of Guelph, drawing sketches of landmarks near the site and describing the landscape to investigators.
More on the Stafford case:
Read a timeline detailing Tori Stafford's abduction, plus victim impact statements presented in court by the family.
But what was covered in snow back in early April was now green and looked unfamiliar to her.
Eventually, on July 19, more than three months after Tori's disappearance, an investigator stumbled upon the girl's remains, the smell hitting him before he spotted a garbage bag poking out from under some rocks.
A forensic pathologist later determined it was indeed Tori. Portions of her clothing were found at the site, including a headband, a Hannah Montana T-shirt and butterfly earrings. The cause of death was multiple blunt force impact.
McClintic admitted in court she was using drugs around the time Tori was abducted.
"Every day I think that maybe if I hadn't walked down the street that day, that precious little angel would still be here. Every day I ask myself why?" she told the court.
"I know that my apology doesn't mean much compared to what was lost, and I'm not asking for forgiveness as I stand here, but I am trying to make amends the best way I can by giving you my life today," McClintic said.
Victim impact statements
Tori's father, Rodney Stafford, responded to McClintic's apology in his victim impact statement.
"I hope that during your sentence, you find peace with yourself, and with God. And just maybe one day, I could learn to forgive you, but for now, excuse me if I don't. My little girl is gone," Stafford wrote.
Stafford said the "unspeakable" crime devastated the family, especially Tori's older brother, Daryn. The two were like "peas in a pod," he said.
Daryn said in his victim impact statement that he still feels uncomfortable walking on the street where Tori was taken and is scared to go places alone.
But more importantly, he said he misses his only sister and "bestest friend," who was "the most important person in the world to me."
"Me and Tori could barely be apart for a weekend, let alone a lifetime," he wrote.
Tori's mother, Tara McDonald, who once told the media police considered her a suspect in her daughter's disappearance, said in her victim impact statement that the emptiness caused by Tori's death is overwhelming.
"I miss her so much that many times if I didn't have my son I probably would've taken my own life because the agony of not having her here with me is so great."