The Murder of Tori Stafford

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Tori Stafford
Terri-Lynne McClintic & Michael Rafferty

On April 8, 2009, 8-year-old Victoria or Tori Stafford left school in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada at 3:30pm to walk to her new house. She was living with her mom, Tara, Tara’s boyfriend James Goris & and her brother Daryn. The night before, she was busy decorating her new room with posters of Disney Princesses, Bratz Dolls & High School Musical. After school, the plan was for Tori to spend the evening with her dad, Rodney and then watch a movie with friends. 

Tori was born on July 15, 2000 and was the youngest of two kids; her parents divorced when she was two. Apparently her father hadn’t been around very much but had recently cleaned up his act & moved back home to be more present. Tori was described as a fiery girly-girl, a pint sized tiger who loved to dress up.

The family had only been living in their new house for one week, so it was Tori’s first time walking the few blocks home from school to the house, so she was going to make the journey with her 10-year-old brother Daryn. Before Daryn met Tori, he took a couple of younger kids home who lived right next to the school. When he headed back to meet Tori, she was nowhere to be found. Assuming she had decided to walk home by herself, he headed there but realized that Tori wasn’t home when he arrived. Daryn got on his bike & rode back to school to find his sister, but again, Tori wasn’t there. 

When Daryn let his family know the situation, they began calling Tori’s friends but no one had seen her since school was released. At 6:04 that evening, Tori was reported missing to police by her grandmother, Linda Winters. When Tori was last seen, she was wearing a black Hannah Montana jacket with white fur lining the hood, a green shirt, a denim skirt, black & white shoes & carried a Bratz Doll bag. A search party came together to look for her, but no clues were found until police obtained surveillance footage from the high school down the street from Tori’s elementary school. At 3:32pm, Tori was seen walking with an unknown woman who was wearing tight black jeans, a white puffy coat & had her dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. It appeared that the girl was anywhere from 19-25 years-old and weighed about 120-125#. The video was released to the media & police received a tip that the woman was 18-year-old Terri-Lynne McClintic. 

To give you a background, Terri-Lynne McClintic was 8-years-old when she started smoking cigarettes and marijuana and as she got into her teenage years, she moved into harder drugs, like Morphine & Oxycontin. Terri-Lynne was adopted at 9-months-old after her mom, who was an exotic dancer, was unable to care for her. She was given to her mom’s best friend, Carol, also an exotic dancer. They moved a lot so Terri-Lynne was often the “new kid” in school & skipped school frequently. Her adoptive parents were violent and abusive to each other; the household was very unstable & Terri-Lynne, at one point, was in foster care as well as juvie. Between ages 12-17 she was in trouble with assault 6 times; she often wrote that she was going to get revenge on the people who did her wrong. 

When Terri-Lynne was 16 she got into a fight with Carol & punched her so violently that Carol nearly lost her vision in one eye. Eventually, their relationship got better & the violence stopped. In early 2009, Terri-Lynne basically lived on antidepressants, Oxycontin & ecstasy & injected herself with Morphine & smoked pot. 

On April 12, four days after Tori went missing, Terri-Lynne was in police custody for an unrelated charge after violating her probation. When she was questioned about Tori, she denied any involvement. A month later, on May 19, Terri-Lynne changed her story during a police interview & admitted that she & her boyfriend of two months, 28-year-old Michael Rafferty kidnapped Tori. At the time of her confession, police had no real evidence to tie her or Michael to the crime; they were actually suspecting Tori’s family at that point. 

Terri-Lynne & Michael met at a pizza place and Michael offered her a ride home. When they arrived, they had a “deep conversation” & then decided to drive around more & talk about none other than Oxycontin. At the end of their romantic date, spent driving & discussing drugs, they had sex in the car. Over the next several weeks, Terri-Lynne supplied Michael with Oxycontin when he would come over & she felt he always said the right things & made her feel special. Her previous relationships with men had been very negative; she had even been molested as a four-year-old child.

Police believe that Terri-Lynne decided to “snitch” on Michael that day because she suspected he was seeing other women while she was locked up. On May 15th, Michael had spoken to Terri-Lynne on the phone & told her he wouldn’t be visiting her or calling her anymore for a while.

She said that before this, Michael gave her a hard time & told her that she wasn’t nearly the badass she thought she was because if she was, she would help him kidnap a child. He told Terri to go to the elementary school on release & find a girl by herself & strike up a conversation about candy or dogs while luring her away. He said it was better to focus on a younger child because they’re easier to manipulate. 

They parked in the lot of a retirement home, across the street from the local high school & Terri-ynne walked over to the elementary school, Michael waiting in the car. Terri-Lynne noticed Tori standing by herself & began to talk to her about her dog, a Shih Tzu which just so happened to be the same breed of dog that Tori owned. She asked Tori if she wanted to come & see her dog & Tori was excited & said yes. Terri-Lynne led Tori to the car where Michael waited. As they got closer to the car, Michael began shouting “hurry up!” to them. 

As they drove, Tori asked where they were going & Terri-Lynne told her they were just going for a drive. They kept her on the driver’s side back seat, hidden under Michael’s black coat. Terri-Lynne talked to Tori along the way & learned that her favorite color was purple & her favorite holiday was Halloween because she loved dressing up. They made some stops along the way, at a Tim Hortons, one of Michael’s friend’s houses to buy Percocet & then to a Home Depot where Michael instructed Terri-Lynne to go in and buy a hammer & large garbage bags. Surveillance video saw Michael’s car in the Home Depot parking lot at 5pm. During the drive, Michael & Terri-Lynn talked about how they were going to have to do something to Tori because they couldn’t keep her & they couldn’t just drop her back off.

From here, they drove to the country & as they did, Michael masterbated in the car. When they stopped, Terri-Lynne took Tori to a public restroom. While they were in the restroom, Terri-Lynne told Tori that she was a very strong girl. As they talked, Tori begged her not to leave her alone with Michael. Terri-Lynne took Tori back to the car, holding hands as they walked. As they arrived, Michael was out of the car and picked Tori up, putting her inside the car. Tori was pleading with Terri-Lynn, begging her not to leave her. When Terri-Lynne testified she said, “He picked her back up. She still had a hold of my hand. She didn’t want to let go. She asked me to stay with her. So I got in the front seat and I tried to hold onto her hand, but I couldn’t stay because I knew what was about to happen. I couldn’t be there for that.” 

Terri-Lynne began to walk away as Michael violently raped Tori in the backseat of the car. Even at a distance, Terri-Lynne could hear Tori screaming & crying in the car. She claimed that Tori’s screams brought back flashbacks of her own traumatic childhood. When Michael was finished with his attack on Tori, he threw her outside the car. Teri-Lynne walked toward the car & kicked Tori and stomped on her. When she testified, she said, “I turned back to the vehicle and when I saw what was going on, all I saw was myself at that age.. And all the anger and hate and rage that I built up toward myself came out of me.” They placed a plastic bag over Tori’s head & Terri-Lynne used the hammer they purchased from Home Depot to strike Tori’s head multiple times. They placed her little body in a garbage bag & put her body under a tree & camouflaged it with rocks. When Tori’s remains were found, her Hannah Montana jacket & butterfly earrings were found in the bag as well. From there, they had the car washed & got rid of the hammer & their clothes. 

Tori’s autopsy showed that she died from at least four blows from the hammer to her head. Sixteen of her ribs were broken & her liver was damaged while she was still alive. The blunt force trauma to her body & what caused her liver laceration would have alone been fatal.

When police questioned Terri-Lynne after identifying her in the surveillance video, she told them that Tori was dead. She provided them with a sketch of the area where her body could be located & police went to a rural area just southeast of Mount Forest in Ontario, about 82 miles from Tori’s house. Tori’s badly decomposed remains were found under an evergreen tree, covered in rocks on July 21, 2009, 103 days after she was reported missing. She was found naked from the waist down. Because of the extent of decomposition, dental records were used to identify her. The medical examiner couldn’t definitively determine if Tori had been raped because of the state of decomposition. 

Terri-Lynne & Michael were ordered to have separate trials; she was charged with first-degree murder & Michael was charged with first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm & kidnapping.  Initially Terri-Lynne told police that Michael killed Tori, but later confessed that it was she who struck her with the hammer. She indicated that she was willing to give evidence against Michael at his trial. Michael pleaded not guilty. During his trial, it was the prosecution’s case that both Terri-Lynne & Michael abducted Tori as she walked home from school that day. Terri-Lynne testified at the trial & said that Michael told her to take Tori, saying, “take a young female because the younger they were, the easier they were to manipulate.” 

Terri-Lynne claimed that she was only going to pretend to take a child from the elementary school that day & ultimately tell Michael that she couldn’t do it. She said that when she walked toward the school, she knew Michael was watching her so she went through with it after seeing Tori alone. 

She claimed that she was unaware what Michael was going to do that day. Terri-Lynne said that she only targeted Tori because she just happened to be alone that day, but it was later revealed that there was a connection. During the trial, Tori’s mom, Tara, revealed that at the time of her daughter’s abduction & murder, she had been addicted to Oxycontin. She purchased the drug from Terri-Lynne’s mother & had seen Terri-Lynne at their house twice at the time. Tara spoke of their Shih Tzu dog; she had one, they had two & they discussed breeding the dogs.  It was actually Tara that was able to recognize Terri-Lynne from the surveillance video. 

The defense made the case that Michael didn’t know what was going to happen when Terri-Lynne brought Tori to his car that day. They claimed that the abduction & murder was solely Terri-Lynne’s fault; it was her idea, she lured Tori away & purchased the murder weapon from Home Depot. Michael said that Terri-Lynne told him that she took Tori for a drug debt & allowed him to do something sexual to her. The defense said that Michael said no & Terri-Lynne asked him to drive to a rural location. When they arrived, she asked him to walk away since Tori was afraid of him. She said that’s when Terri-Lynne murdered Tori & that she was never raped. He said he wasn’t involved in the murder but did help clean up. The defense said that Terri-Lynne was a violent & cruel person; evidence presented to the jury that when she was a child, she had put their tiny family dog into the microwave “until it screamed.” The dog ultimately had to be put to sleep because of the injuries. She lied to her family & told them the dog had been attacked by another animal. 

When investigators looked at Michael’s computer, the search history included: Underage rape & real underage rape pictures, best programs to download child pornography. It also contained the movie Gardens of the Night, a 2008 film about an 8-year-old girl who is lured away by Alex (played by Tom Arnold) after he says that he needs help finding his dog. It also contained the movie Karla, a 2006 film based on the true story of Karla Homolka whose husband, Paul Bernardo, became attracted to her younger sister, Tammy Homolka, during the summer of 1990. Karla came up with the plan to drug her sister with Valium to allow Paul to rape Tammy. When Tammy began to wake up during the rape, they drugged her with an animal tranquilizer that Karla had taken from the vet clinic where she worked. Tammy later choked on her vomit & died. None of the information from Michael’s laptop was able to be used during the trial because investigators had a search warrant to search the car where it was found, not the computer itself. 

Apparently after Tori went missing Michael had changed his FB status after Tori’s abduction to “Bring Tori Home.”  During the trial, a forensic biologist confirmed that a blood sample taken from Michael’s car matched Tori’s DNA. There were also semen samples in the backseat. Police had tracked down 13 women who claimed Michael liked to choked them during sex & not always with consent. One woman apparantly signed a consent note that she agreed to sexual choking and passing out during sex. 

On May 20, 2009, Michael was charged with first-degree murder & Terri-Lynne was charged with being an accessory to murder. On May 28, McClintic’s charges were adjusted to first-degree murder & an unlawful confinement charge & it was announced that they would be tried separately.   

Terri-Lynne was scheduled to be in court on April 30, 2010 though a publication ban was imposed by the judge on the events of the day. The ban was lifted on December 9, 2010 & revealed that Terri-Lynn pleaded guilty to first-degree murder & was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. At the time though, Canada had a Faint Hope Clause that determined that those serving a life sentence with a parole eligibility period of more than 15 years could apply for parole after serving 15 years. This law was abolished on December 2, 2011 but because the sentencing happened before this, she will be eligible for parole as early as 2024 when she is only 33-years-old.

On March 5, 2012, Michael’s trial began & on May 11, 2012, he was found guilty of all charges; kidnapping, sexual assault & first-degree murder of Tori Stafford. On May 15, he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. On July 26, 2012, Michael appealed his conviction, claiming that the judge’s instructions to the jury were flawed. The 30-day deadline to appeal passed by the time the paperwork was received as Michael claimed he wasn’t able to utilize the phone to contact legal counsel. Regardless, the appeal was ultimately dismissed. Michael’s sentencing happened after the Faint Hope Clause had been abolished so he won’t be eligible for parole for 25 years, in 2036 when he’s approximately 56-year-old.

In 2014 Terri-Lynne was later transferred from prison to an Indigenous healing lodge to allow a more independent living; this caused outrage in Canada. Apparently there are 9 of these lodges throughout Canada. Terri-Lynne’s own brother was outraged, saying, “she is no more indigenous than I am green from the planet Mars.” He feels she manipulated information to improve her situation; going from maximum security to a place where she is given access & rights & is minimum security, despite the fact that at one point in her imprisonment, she assaulted another inmate. In 2012, during her time at Grand Valley Institute for Women, she got into an unprovoked fight with another female inmate who was serving life in prison for first-degree murder of her ex-boyfriend. Prison staff intercepted a letter that Terri-Lynne wrote to a friend; it indicated that she confronted Aimee McIntyre about something she said about her.  She wrote that she “got in at least a couple shots, good ones, like one or two decent face shots.” She wrote that while Aimee curled into the fetal position on the floor, she kicked her repeatedly. She was sentenced to six months for the assault but because sentences in Canada run concurrently, it won’t have any change to her life sentence.   

More disturbing though, there are children present, living with their mothers. Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale stepped in after the decision was made and ordered the commissioner of Correctional Service Canada to review how the transfer happened. She was then transferred back to prison in 2018. Because of this, in 2019, Terri-Lynne sought compensation for her unfair treatment though this was later dropped.

The kidnapping charge against her was dropped. At the hearing, she couldn’t explain why she lured Tori away, she claims she didn’t wake up that day with the plan to do what she did. “I think that maybe if I hadn’t walked down the street that day, that precious little angel would still be here. Everyday I ask myself why, why did I tell myself that everything would be okay. I can’t honestly understand my thought process that day.” In the presence of Tori’s family, Tori apologized, saying, “A million tears would never be enough & a million words would never be able to explain how truly sorry I am.”  Michael also apologized to Tori’s family but maintained that he was innocent. In 2018 Michael was moved from a maximum security prison to a medium security prison. 

In 2020 Tori’s dad, Rodney, asked citizens of Ontario to honor Tori on what would have been her 20th birthday by doing random acts of kindness. Since her murder, Rodney has become a child safety advocate & joined other families in 2018 to enforce more strict prison sentences for violent offenders. 


  1. Chilling Crimes: Tori Stafford
  2. Crimes and Consequences: EP 100: The Murder of Victoria Stafford 
  3. Wikipedia: Karla Homolka
  4. TheCinemaholic: Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic Now: Where Are Tori Stafford’s Killers Today?
  5. Toronto Star: The main players in the Tori Stafford murder case: Where are they now?
  6. Global News: Terri-Lynne McClintic,  in jail for Tori Stafford murder, pleads guilty to assault
  7. Murderpedia: Terri-Lynne McClintic

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