Assistance sought in search for Tori Stafford
Monday, May 25, 20091 Comment
Police released photos of a vehicle they suspect was involved in the disappearance of Tori Stafford (Oxford Community Police)
Now in its sixth day, the search for Stafford’s remains took a new twist as divers from the OPP Underwater Search and Recovery Unit combed the waters of Belwood Lake in Fergus, Ontario and Guelph Lake. Investigators continued to search on foot in a search area within a 50-minute drive of Guelph.
Rural residents in particular were asked to look on their properties and report anything unusual to police.
Investigators also released photos of a 2003 blue Honda Civic that had been partly spray painted black. Police said the vehicle may have been in the parking lot of the Guelph Home Depot in the hours after Stafford’s abduction on April 8.
Police are looking for the rear seat of the car and have asked for anyone who might have seen the vehicle to come forward.
Last Wednesday, 28-year-old Michael Thomas Rafferty and his 18-year-old girlfriend, Terri-Lynne McClintic, of Woodstock were arrested and charged in connection with Stafford’s disappearance.
Rafferty is charged with first-degree murder. McClintic is charged with abduction and accessory to murder after the fact. Both are expected to be in court May 28.
McClintic had been accompanying investigators as they scoured farmers’ fields and parks in Fergus. A court order allowing McClintic to aid police in the search expired Sunday night.
McClintic's lawyer, Jeanine Roy, said in an email to The Canadian Press that her client was now at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre in London and that she would no longer have any “direct participation in the search.”
The abduction has shaken residents in Woodstock, population 35,000, and the town has been subjected to intense media scrutiny since the investigation began. Tori’s mother, Tara McDonald, has criticized Woodstock Police for focusing on her as the prime suspect and not acting quickly enough to reclassify her daughter's disappearance as abduction.
Stafford’s disappearance also highlighted abuse of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, an increasingly common illegal drug in Ontario. In the weeks after Tori went missing, McDonald admitted to battling an OxyContin addiction off and on for the past two years. However, she denied reports that she and her boyfriend bought OxyContin from McClintic's mother.
Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Oxford Community Police at 519-537-2323 or toll free at 1-877-537-6277.