Neighbours didn’t have a favourable impression of him: Some remembered him sitting in the driveway in his car, blasting heavy metal, or speeding down the street. Others said he had a temper, fighting often with his mother. Mr. Riddell was also frustrated by his stepson, who, he told The Globe in 2009, was a freeloader who spent his money on clothes and electronics rather than helping pay the bills.
But e-mails between the young man and his mother contain hints of a close relationship. In one exchange, in late 2007, the two frankly discussed a family member they suspected of cheating on her boyfriend and Mr. Rafferty was open about his own dalliances. “All of this doesn’t change even if u get older,” he wrote of infidelity. “The rules never change and I have had my fair share of … well … I’m somewhat of an expert … I have had many relations … anyways nuff said.”
The pair also shared drug connections, picking up pills for one another; one message suggested Ms. Murphy was taking painkillers for her back.
He wrote fondly of two uncles, whom he described as father figures.
During this time, Mr. Rafferty dated a parade of women, many of whom he met online. Some, he dated only briefly or slept with a couple of times. With others, however, he formed longer attachments, holding out the promise of a life together. One of these, a mother of five named Charity Spitzig, would later testify at trial that she began working as an escort and giving him the money. “It was pretty promising, exclusive,” she said of their relationship, which led her to hope for marriage and a family with him. But he met Ms. McClintic at a Woodstock pizza place on a February night in 2009. By her account, he was talking on his phone and didn’t seem to know where he was, so she interrupted his conversation to orient him. Describing her as a “hot little number,” he ended his call and offered her a lift home. Before the night was over, they’d had sex in his car.
He wrote his number on the pizza box and, a few days later, showed up at her house to ask why she hadn’t called. From then on, he often called her when he wanted to buy OxyContin – she had the connections to Woodstock’s drug scene that he seemed to lack – and simultaneously romanced her.
She quickly warmed to him. “He said all the right things,” she would later tell his trial. “It felt pretty good.”
One night, after they saw a movie together and had sex in the empty theatre, he suggested they spend the night in a motel, saying he wanted to wake up next to her.
Ms. McClintic was then 18, a decade younger than Mr. Rafferty. She made little attempt to hide her tumultuous past. Given up at birth and raised by a former exotic dancer named Carol McClintic, she had moved often as a child and suffered physical abuse. She started taking drugs at the age of eight and got into fights that eventually landed her in prison. On one occasion, she punched her mother so hard it destroyed most of the sight in one eye; on another, she stabbed a man in a parking lot during a robbery attempt, then punched a police officer.
By the time she met Mr. Rafferty, she was living with her mother in a rundown Woodstock triplex, looking for work and injecting OxyContin several times a day.
If at first Mr. Rafferty had seemed a sunny charmer, Ms. McClintic testified, she quickly discovered his dark side. On one occasion, he pulled up to a house and described how it would be possible to break in and tie up the occupants. On another, he asked her what she thought of abducting someone.
They did just that on April 8, 2009.