The murder of Victoria Stafford
The court released the following edited version of the agreed statement of facts:
April 8-May 19, 2009
On Wednesday, April 8, 2009, Victoria Elizabeth Stafford (Tori) was eight years, eight months and 23 days old. She resided in Woodstock with her mother, Tara McDonald, and her older brother, Daryn Stafford. She attended Oliver Stephens Public School and was in Grade 3. During the months leading up to April 8, Tori and Daryn had been living with their maternal grandmother, Linda Winters. She would usually drop Tori and Daryn off in the morning at a townhouse complex where they used to live, close to the school. Daryn would then walk a number of other younger children to school accompanied by Tori. At the end of the school day, the process would be reversed. On April 7, Tori had spent the night with her mother at her new house. For April 8 it was specifically arranged that Tori would not accompany her brother in the afternoon but would walk the few blocks to her mother’s home alone. She had invited a number of friends to come over later in the day to watch a video.
School dismissal for students who are walking is at 3:25 p.m. Tori lined up with the other students at the southeast door of the school. She was then given permission to return to her classroom to retrieve her butterfly earrings. She returned to the line just as the bell rang and left the school with the other students. This was the first day she was to walk alone to her home
Tori was expected to arrive at her new residence at about 3:45 p.m. When one of her friends called at 3:55 p.m. there was no answer and she left a voice mail about watching the movie. Meanwhile, Daryn had walked to the adjacent townhouse complex with one of the children he usually accompanied. He then went to a cousin’s house and borrowed a bicycle to ride to his mother’s house at 647 Frances St. When he arrived, his mother told him that Tori had not yet arrived home. Daryn then rode around the neighbourhood looking for his sister. By 5 p.m. he had returned to his cousin’s house in the townhouse complex. Tara McDonald called there at 5 p.m. and said Tori was still not home. At 5:20 p.m. Tara McDonald called her mother Linda Winters to tell her that Tori was missing. Linda drove to Tara’s house and picked her up. They then drove around until 5:40 p.m. looking for Tori. After approaching an Oxford Community Police Services officer involved in another investigation, they were directed to police headquarters. At 6:04 p.m. Linda Winters reported Tori missing to Oxford Community Police Service (OCPS).
OCPS immediately commenced an investigation. A ground search was conducted of the area immediately around the school area and neighbourhood. This included the present and previous residence of Tara McDonald. In the early morning of April 9, details of the missing child were released to the media. The search area was expanded with the assistance of the Woodstock Fire Department.
On April 9, police retrieved the surveillance video from College Avenue Secondary School (CASS). Once Tori was identified as the child in the video being led away by an unidentified female, the case became a criminal investigation of a possible abduction. The search area was expanded to include a significant portion of the Woodstock area.
Later on April 9, the CASS video was released to the media and broadcast extensively in southwestern Ontario. Police immediately began to receive tips from the general public suggesting the possible identity of the person in the video walking with Tori. A few of those early tips suggested the accused, Terri-Lynne McClintic, was the person in the video. Police also received direct information from a number of persons that provided more detailed contact information regarding Terri-Lynne McClintic.
On April 12, the accused was one of a number of persons of interest to investigators. Once it was learned that there was, in fact, an outstanding arrest warrant for the accused on a minor offence, Terri-Lynne McClintic was arrested and taken to OCPS headquarters. She has been in custody since that date.
Terri-Lynne McClintic was questioned about the abduction of Tori Stafford. She was shown the CASS video but denied being the person in the video or having any involvement in the abduction of Tori Stafford. She was still considered a person of interest and was identified to be the subject of further investigation.
On April 15, 2009, the OCPS requested the assistance of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). The scope of the investigation had expanded exponentially and almost a thousand tips had been received by investigators.
On May 12, 2009, investigators attended at the Detention Centre to interview Terri-Lynne McClintic for a second time. She was asked to once again recount her activities on April 8. She told investigators that she had gone to the Employment Centre and then had gone for a “pick up” of oxycontins. She did recall walking on Fyfe Avenue across from CASS but did not stop anywhere near the high school. She described her clothing and advised that she had consumed some illegal drugs.
On May 15, 2009, Terri-Lynne McClintic was scheduled to appear in Woodstock in order to complete her matters. Investigators met with her at the courthouse and asked her whether or not she would consent to providing a further statement to police. She provided her written consent to that statement. She did so in the presence of counsel acting for her in the matters.
On May 19, 2009, investigators obtained an Order from the Superior Court of Justice to remove Terri-Lynne McClintic from the Detention Centre for the purpose of providing a further statement in relation to the abduction of Tori Stafford. She was taken to OCPS headquarters. After being given her Rights to Counsel and cautioned, she declined the opportunity to speak with a lawyer and indicated that she was voluntarily participating in the interview.
On May 19, 2009, Terri-Lynne McClintic admitted that she was the female person walking in the CASS video with Tori Stafford. After a further short series of questions, she was advised at 4:47 p.m. that she was under arrest for the offence of abduction of a child under 14. Another short series of questions were asked and at 5:15 p.m. she was arrested for the offence of accessory to murder. On both occasions she was given her rights to counsel and cautioned. On both occasions she declined the opportunity to speak to a lawyer and reaffirmed her willingness to co-operate with the police.
May 19-May 23
Immediately following her arrest, Terri-Lynne McClintic was taken to the Guelph area to assist investigators in their attempts to locate the body of Tori Stafford. She continued to co-operate directly in this process between May 19 and May 23. The investigators obtained judicial authorization to allow them to keep Terri-Lynne McClintic in their custody in order to assist the police. Virtually all of her contact with the police during this time was subject to both audio and/or video recording.
While driving to the Guelph area, Terri-Lynne McClintic gave a verbal description of the residence close to where Tori Stafford had been murdered.
In Guelph she identified a Home Depot on Woodlawn Road as the location where she had entered the store to purchase garbage bags. This location was confirmed by investigators by way of a seizure of the Home Depot video surveillance tapes which positively identified Terri-Lynne McClintic purchasing items on April 8, 2009, at 5:12 p.m. The information she provided largely formed the basis for the subsequent charge of first-degree murder later brought against Terri-Lynne McClintic.
On May 20, 2009, Terri-Lynne McClintic was advised during an interview that she was now going to be charged with First Degree Murder. She indicated that she understood the charge. She did not wish to speak to counsel and reiterated her intention to help police find Tori Stafford’s body. She signed a consent to accompany police for that purpose for the next two days.
Also on May 20, Terri-Lynne McClintic began to further describe the residence that she had mentioned the previous day. She described in particular how the house sat on an angle to the road and was directly across from a dirt road. Investigators then called on the assistance of the OPP helicopter to search for the residence from the air. Terri-Lynne McClintic accompanied officers on this search.
On May 21, 2009, she was in the holding cells of the Oxford Community Police. She advised investigators that she had forgotten to mention that she had also purchased a hammer at the Home Depot in Guelph on April 8, 2009. Investigators had already seized the videotape and were aware of this fact but had not told her.
During the search on May 21, Terri-Lynne directed the investigators to the area of Highway 6 and Sideroad 6 in Wellington County.
Again on May 21, investigators utilized the OPP helicopter to assist in the search for Tori Stafford’s remains. Terri-Lynne expressed difficulty in identifying the scene as there had been snow on the ground on April 8 and now everything was green.
The search continued on May 23, 2009 with Terri-Lynne McClintic once again consenting to a judicial authorization to accompany the investigators.
On May 24, 2009, Terri-Lynne McClintic again went with investigators. She further described the residence that she had previously said was close to the location of the murder. She also described in some detail the actual scene of the murder, referencing a broken-down fence, visible silos, an inclined laneway and creek and a rock pile close to pine or spruce trees where the body had been hidden.
June 1-June 3
OPP investigators obtained a further Order from the Superior Court releasing Terri-Lynne McClintic to their custody between June 1 and June 3. Once again she had signed her consent to the release. Terri-Lynne McClintic provided the investigators with a drawing that she had made while in custody illustrating the location of the residence and its relationship to the murder scene. She also provided a detailed description of the house features. She also indicated that she recognized several commercial establishments in the Cambridge area.
During the course of her contact with the investigators, Terri-Lynne McClintic provided numerous hours of statements in addition to the formal interviews conducted at the Oxford Community Police Service Headquarters. While her statements initially denied any involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Tori Stafford, she ultimately admitted her involvement in these crimes.
On April 8, 2009, Terri-Lynne McClintic went to a number of locations in Woodstock. These included the College Avenue church to obtain food vouchers. She then went to the Foodland grocery store. Video surveillance there confirmed clothing she described wearing throughout the day. She returned to the church with her receipts as per church policy. At 2:19 p.m. she was at the community employment centre where she signed in and submitted her resume. She also used the computer facilities to attempt to check her MSN account but was unable because she had forgotten her password.
Terri-Lynne McClintic returned to her house at about 2:30 p.m.
Terri-Lynne McClintic advised investigators that Tori Stafford happened to be the first child she observed walking towards her from the school. As Tori approached, Terri-Lynne began a conversation with her, introducing herself as “T.” Tori told her that her name was Victoria but everybody called her Tori. Terri-Lynne McClintic and Tori walked north on Fyfe Avenue. At 3:32 p.m., surveillance cameras show Tori and Terri-Lynne walking northbound on Fyfe Avenue.
Terri-Lynne McClintic told investigators that the conversation at this time was about dogs. Terri-Lynne told Tori she had a Shih Tzu named Precious. Tori told her she also had a Shih Tzu and she agreed that she would like to see Terri-Lynne’s dog.
The CASS video last shows Terri-Lynne McClintic escorting Tori to the Caressant Care Retirement Home parking lot and ultimately off camera.
They then went to an address in Guelph and then north of Guelph.
In a remote location on a side road in the 6th Concession North of Arthur Township, Victoria Elizabeth Stafford was murdered and her body concealed.
Between 9 and 10 p.m., Terri-Lynne McClintic returned to her residence.
July 19, 2009
Notwithstanding their failure to locate Tori Stafford’s body during the initial efforts following the arrest of Terri-Lynne McClintic, investigators mounted an exhaustive effort to locate her remains. Several hundred officers continued a progressive grid search of areas north of Guelph. Other investigative efforts provided clues to assist in their work. Terri-Lynne McClintic again consented to co-operating with investigators to provide details resulting in an artist sketch of the residence she had previously described as being close to the scene.
On July 19, 2009, an OPP officer and member of the investigative team was searching in the Mount Forest area on Concession #6. He recognized that a residence on 6th Concession North resembled the house in the sketch prepared by the OPP artist in several key aspects. A laneway across the road also matched the location description. The officer drove down the laneway, across a culvert and up an incline to a large rock pile on the left side. After getting out of his car, the officer immediately noted the odour of decomposition and approached a group of trees beside the rock pile. He then was able to see a portion of green garbage bag beneath some rocks under a pine tree.
He had found Tori Stafford.
The body of Tori Stafford was removed under the supervision of the Chief Forensic Pathologist of Ontario, Dr. Michael Pollanen. The remains had suffered from significant decomposition in the time between April 8 and July 19. She was positively identified as Victoria Elizabeth Stafford using dental records. In addition, several items of clothing, including portions of a headband, a Hannah Montana T-shirt and the butterfly earrings were found with the body.
The cause of the death was determined to be multiple blunt force impact.
Nothing has been said about her co accused as he is still waiting trial and publication ban is in place. Much more information will surface once the ban has been lifted. It is sure to be unpleasant.