Warning: This story contains graphic details
A pair of blue-and-white running shoes took centre stage at the Tori Stafford murder trial Wednesday as a Guelph-area resident recounted stumbling across them while picking up roadside garbage.
The trial of Michael Rafferty, charged with kidnapping, raping and killing eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford of Woodstock three years ago has already been told by his former girlfriend and co-accused Terri-Lynne McClintic that as the pair sped away from the crime scene on April 8, 2009, she flung her shoes out of the car window.
Software worker Lillian Metcalfe, who lives north of Guelph along the 8th Line, near Hwy 6, told prosecutor Stephanie Venne that late in April or early May she found the Shaq running shoes in a clump of thick grass along Side Road 6.
Tori’s body would later be located just outside Mount Forest, a short drive north, but at this point had not been discovered.
Ms. Metcalfe thought little of the shoes at the time she told the jury.
“I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them.”
So she washed and dried them, with a view to giving them to a Goodwill or Salvation Army operation. And they were still in her garage May 30 when she encountered a police officer who was part of a big search of the area and told him of her discovery.
A few days earlier Mr. Rafferty and Ms. McClintic had been charged with murdering Tori, and Ms. McClintic was by then helping detectives piece events together.
Ms. McClintic, who spent six days in the witness box, has told the trial that disposing of the shoes that day was part of a frantic effort to dispose of incriminating evidence.
After she threw them into the bush, as she and Mr. Rafferty drove south, Tori’s clothes and the hammer - never located by police – were placed in a garbage bag and dropped in a dumpster at a carwash in Cambridge, Ms. McClintic said earlier during her testimony.
There, the couple washed down Mr. Rafferty’s Honda Civic and shampooed the inside, including the floor mats, Ms. McClintic said.
In a public washroom they then changed into different clothes that Mr. Rafferty had brought along, tossing their old garments out of the window as they drove along Highway 401, together with chunks of upholstery from the back seat, Ms. McClintic said. Neither the bits of upholstery nor the seat itself have been found.
Mr. Rafferty, 31, is charged with first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and abduction. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts.
Two years ago, Ms. McClintic, now 21, pleaded guilty to murder and is serving life imprisonment at a federal prison for women in Kitchener.
The couple were jointly charged in May, 2009, six weeks after Tori vanished on her way home from school, and two months before her decomposed body was discovered wrapped in green garbage bags and concealed beneath rocks.
The child died as a result of “massive injuries” to her skull, the jury has heard, inflicted by a hammer; she had also sustained broken ribs and a lacerated liver.
Ms. McClintic has insisted that she wielded the murder weapon, but that Mr. Rafferty devised and orchestrated the rape and killing.
Last week, however, Mr. Rafferty’s lawyer, Dirk Derstine, accused her of being the driving force behind the whole operation, suggesting she kidnapped Tori as a means of settling an unspecified “drug debt.”
Picking up the narrative about the distinctively laced, Size 9 Shaq shoes, lead identification officer Constable Gary Scoyne told the trial Wednesday that they were examined, packaged and sent to Toronto’s Centre of Forensic Sciences for DNA analysis.
In the prisoner’s box, Mr. Rafferty appeared bored, leaning back in his seat with his eyes closed during most of the testimony.
Later this week, the trial will be hearing from Det.-Sgt Jim Smyth, who questioned Ms. McClintic at length and discovered Tori’s remains in July, 2009.