Warning: This story contains disturbing details.
When eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford was lured from her school in Woodstock and taken to the car waiting up the street, the man accused of driving her away and subsequently raping and murdering her appeared disappointed, his murder trial was told Wednesday.
“He made comments that she wasn't young enough, that it should have been a younger person,” prosecution witness Terri-Lynne McClintic told the jury weighing the fate of her former boyfriend Michael Rafferty, charged with first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping.
When the couple drove around Woodstock in the runup to Tori's abduction, Ms. McClintic recounted, it often seemed to be near schools. On one occasion in the weeks before the crime, she said, Mr. Rafferty drove her to two different houses in Woodstock occupied by single mothers and talked about how to break in and tie up the occupants.
In other evidence aired Wednesday afternoon, the jury heard of the preparations the couple made to fend off any police inquiries after Tori's death. These encompassed scripts, orchestrated by Mr. Rafferty, that described two different false scenarios, depending on the questions.
And more than once in the days before she was charged, Ms. McClintic testified, she told Mr. Rafferty that if police did swoop, she was willing to shoulder all the blame in Tori's death.
“I said I would take the fall for everything, that it was all me. He had a life, a job and he had things going for him, and I really had nothing… I said, ‘I'm just an 18-year-old junkie anyway.'” She described her own life as worthless, she told Crown attorney Kevin Gowdey, “because that's what I thought.”
Nor did Mr. Rafferty seem dismayed at the prospect of his new girlfriend being locked up for life, she testified. The prospect of “conjugal visits” even appeared to please him.
“I'll never forget what he said to me. I remember touching his face and he laughed at me and said, ‘You'll do anything for a little bit of love, eh?' ” She and Mr. Rafferty, 31, had dated for just a few weeks before Tori died, and are jointly accused of murdering the little girl.
Ms. McClintic, 21, has confessed to murder, is serving life imprisonment, and is now the key prosecution witness in the Crown's case against her ex-boyfriend, who from his prisoner's box listened intently to the day's proceedings, scribbling long notes on a yellow legal pad.
The prosecution, however, has encountered a snag.
On Tuesday, Ms. McClintic surprised and shocked the trial by testifying that it was she – not Mr. Rafferty – who killed Tori in a rural location nearly three years ago, wielding a newly purchased hammer. In her original confession, court heard, she told police Mr. Rafferty was the killer.
Asked by Mr. Gowdey Wednesday why she pleaded guilty, Ms. McClintic replied: “It was the right thing to do.”
While being detained on a relatively minor charge but before the pair were arrested, she testified, Mr. Rafferty spoke of them running away together, and that “maybe we could be like the next Bonnie and Clyde.”
An autopsy concluded that after Tori was kidnapped, she was killed by “massive” injuries to her skull, inflicted by a hammer.
She disappeared in April, 2009, but her body was not discovered until July of that year, wrapped in green garbage bags and concealed beneath rocks outside the small town of Mount Forest, 130 kilometres from her home in Woodstock.
On Wednesday, Ms. McClintic revisited some of her testimony in her narrative of Tori's abduction. The child repeatedly pleaded to be taken home, Ms. McClintic said, and promised not to tell anyone what had happened. “She said she would tell her mom that she had just been playing at her cousin's.”
After the murder, Ms. McClintic said, she threw her shoes into the bush off a side-road. Tori's clothes and the hammer used in the killing, meanwhile, were put in a garbage bag and tossed in a dumpster in Cambridge, Ont., where the couple washed Mr. Rafferty's Honda Civic and shampooed the inside of the car.
Then, they changed into different clothes in a public washroom, tossing their old clothes – as well as pieces of the back seat of the car – out the window as they drove along Highway 401.
After Ms. McClintic was arrested for breaching a court order, four days after Tori's murder, she placed Mr. Rafferty's name on her visiting list at a London youth detention centre, she testified.
At this point he was not on the police radar, and when they spoke on the phone, he asked her if she needed anything – flowers, money, a lawyer. She declined the offers.
She also told him she had been asked to take a polygraph test.
He responded, “'That's okay, because you have nothing to hide,'” she testified, with a tone and manner that seemed slightly more confident than a day earlier. When Mr. Justice Thomas Heeney made a light remark, she even managed a fleeting smile.
At that stage, in mid-April, she had repeatedly denied all knowledge of Tori's disappearance, which had galvanized Woodstock. In particular, she said it was not she who appeared on a video clip leading Tori away from her school.
But a few weeks later, on May 19, a long, videotaped interview with OPP Detective Sergeant Jim Smyth prompted her to confess to her role in the crime. (Det. Sgt. Smyth would become famous a few months later for his successful interrogation of serial killer and former Air Force colonel Russell Williams.) After the confession, she testified, she wrote a note of apology to Tara McDonald, Tori's mother.
Several times she went with police to search for Tori's body and the other places the two accused had visited that afternoon and evening. They were unsuccessful at the time, but using information provided by Ms. McClintic, Det. Sgt. Smyth eventually found the place himself more than two months after the confession.
And almost everything she told Det. Sgt. Smyth remains true, she testified Wednesday: The only big difference is her insistence that she, not Mr. Rafferty, killed Tori with the hammer.
On Tuesday, Ms. McClintic gave the court a brief outline of her unhappy life. She never knew either of her biological parents and was raised by a former exotic dancer, Carol McClintic, who had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse.
The two women were still living together in Woodstock when Ms. McClintic was arrested. But Carol McClintic, who told reporters at the time that she had terminal cancer, has not been seen for many months, and their rundown, rubbish-strewn frame house on Wilson Street sits empty.
Ms. McClintic told the court she began experimenting with marijuana at the age of eight, around the same time she began smoking cigarettes. Later she developed a strong OxyContin addiction, ingesting two or three 80-milligram pills a day. Over a period of several years, she accumulated a string of criminal convictions, principally for assault.
Her job skills at the time of her arrest were close to zero, and her work experience was confined to menial, low-paying jobs that rarely lasted long.
Neither Ms. McClintic not Mr. Rafferty appear to have any relatives or supporters in the packed courtroom.
With the jury absent, the court will hear legal arguments Thursday, none of which may be reported until the jury has retired for its deliberations.
Testimony is expected to resume Friday.