The last horrifying moments of an eight-year-old girl’s life were revealed in graphic detail today by a woman who has admitted bludgeoning her to death with a hammer.
Victoria ‘Tori’ Stafford was abducted from outside her school in Woodstock, Ontario, on April 8, 2009. Her body was found 103 days later stashed in garbage bags and buried under a pile of rocks.
Terry-Lynne McClintic took to the stand for the second day at London, Ontario’s crown court for the murder trial of her ex-boyfriend and alleged orchestrator of the abduction and brutal murder.
She broke down as she revealed the little girl begged for help moments before she was killed.
Michael Rafferty, 31, is accused in the first-degree murder, sexual assault and abduction of Tori. He pleads not guilty.
McClintic had already plead guilty to a first-degree murder charge and is serving life in prison.
Since the trial started on March 5, the court has heard that the school girl was pummeled with a hammer, sexually assaulted, slain and buried like an animal.
Her body was found naked from the waist down and she had blunt injuries to her body that lacerated her liver and fractured her ribs — injuries that could have been fatal on their own.
From the ploy she used to lure the girl away from school, to the conversations they had when she promised she wouldn’t let Rafferty rape her again, to the rage she said overtook her and led her to beat Tori to death with a hammer, McClintic spared no detail in her gut-wrenching testimony.
As Tori’s devastated parents listened, the 21-year-old described how she and Rafferty singled out the little girl because she was on her own – the first day she was allowed to walk back from school alone – and lured her to the car by saying they had a schitzu puppy.
McClintic was high on Oxycontin, as she was most days, and had also smoked marijuana.
The drug-addicted couple made three stops, she said, to pick up Percocet, a highly-addictive narcotic pain killer, coffee and a hammer and garbage bags before arriving at the remote area chosen to kill the innocent school girl.
McClintic said she ‘knew what was about to happen’, so walked away from the car. When pressed as to what that was, she replied: ‘I believed he was going to rape her.’
After Rafferty sexually assaulted Tori the first time in the front seat of his Honda Civic, during which time she could hear screams and cries for help, he called McClintic to take her to the toilet, she told the court.
The 21-year-old recalled Tori was bleeding and crying and pleaded with her: ‘Just don’t let him do it to me again.’
‘I told her I was sorry and that she was a very strong girl. And she said “Like you?” And I told her she was much stronger’, she testified. The convicted child killer then took Tori back to Rafferty, so he could commit the senseless, depraved act again.
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At this point in her testimony, Tori’s parents Tara McDonald and Rodney Stafford broke down in tears.
Rafferty’s former girlfriend told the packed courtroom that as they were walking back to the car, Tori wouldn’t let go of her hand. All she was wearing was her favourite Hannah Montana T-shirt.
‘She asked me to stay with her. I tried to hold on to her hand but I couldn’t stay because I knew what was going to happen,’ said the former drug addict. ‘I couldn’t be there for that. I left.’
‘She asked me to stay with her. I tried to hold on to her hand but I couldn’t stay because I knew what was going to happen’
As she described what happened next, McClintic broke down. She said she was overcome by an anger and rage that seemed to engulf her as she stood in the distance trying to block out the sounds of the assault. It brought back painful memories of past abuse. Of what she didn’t elaborate.
‘I kept having flashbacks. Sometimes it was like I wasn’t even there,’ she said. ‘I realized I needed to do something so I turned back to the vehicle and . . . when I saw what was going on, all I saw was myself when I was that age and all the anger and hate and rage that I’d had and blame that I still feel towards myself came boiling up out of me.’
She walked back to the car, put a garbage bag over Tori’s head and started to kick her. She then struck her repeatedly with both sides of the hammer on the head, she told the court.
Parents: Rodney Stafford, father of slain Victoria Stafford walks into court for proceedings in the Michael Rafferty trial today, and mother Tara McDonald arrived at court yesterday, right
‘I went back to the vehicle and I savagely murdered that little girl,’ she said to a stunned and horrified courtroom.
They both buried the body, she recounted, before washing themselves and the car so no evidence could be found.
‘She pleaded with me to help her and wouldn’t let go of my hand…but I went back to the vehicle and I savagely murdered that little girl’
The pair had been dating just over a month when they carried out the gruesome crime. McClintic said it was Rafferty’s idea and said they would be like Bonnie and Clyde.
Last week, the court heard that before she snatched Tori, McClintic went to an employment centre, filling out various forms but citing anger issues and a Grade 9 education as impediments to finding a job.
Before that she had smoked marijuana, got a food voucher from church, bought groceries and shot up some Oxycontin. It was then that Rafferty showed up at her house unexpectedly.
The surveillance video showing Tori walking away from school with a woman in a white puffy coat was released soon after her abduction.
Police received a tip from Tori’s mother, Tara McDonald, who said she heard from a friend that it looked like McClintic.
McDonald has testified she crossed paths with McClintic twice previously when she and her boyfriend bought Oxycontin illegally from her home.
Ms McDonald’s addiction to the painkiller has also been flagged up by prosecutors.
A check turned up a warrant for McClintic’s arrest on a parole violation, breach of custody and supervision. Police arrested her April 12, 2009, and she confessed to Tori’s murder on May 19.
She said today the whole thing was her ex-lover’s idea. She recalled Rafferty urging her to kidnap a ‘young female, because the younger they were the easier they were to manipulate’.
As they drove past Oliver Stephens Elementary school on that fateful day, Rafferty dared her to prove she wasn’t ‘all talk’.
Through tears, McClintic testified: ‘He said it would be easy. “They’re getting out of school now. All you have to do is talk about dogs or candy or something like that”.’
He had previously asked her if she thought it would be weird if he wanted to kidnap somebody. They couple had only met a month before and had sex in his car the first night they met.
McClintic told the court she went along with whatever he said as she ‘badly wanted to meet a good man’.
The trial continues.
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