Tori's killer worked as a babysitter
Just an hour before luring little Tori Stafford to her death, Terri-Lynne McClintic was in a Woodstock, Ont., job centre looking for work, admitting she had an anger problem and listing babysitting on her resume.
She would turn out to be the last person you would ever want around children.
After pleading guilty in 2010 to the first-degree murder of eight-year-old Tori, McClintic is now safely put away for at least 25 years. On Tuesday, she's set to be the star prosecution witness against Michael Rafferty, her former boyfriend accused of being her partner in Tori's abduction, sexual assault and murder.
But before her highly anticipated testimony, Woodstock Police Det. Const. Sean Kelly was telling the jury how the 18-year-old high school drop-out on welfare first appeared on his radar.
Grey suit, grey hair, grey tie, Kelly started out as a typical cop witness: Straightforward, informative, cool. But that would soon change.
It was Easter Sunday 2009, four days after Tori was last seen on a surveillance camera being led away from Oliver Stephens Public School with a young woman with long hair and a white coat. A massive police investigation was underway with worried officers working around the clock. Kelly, who had become the liaison officer with Tori's distraught family, was interviewing a possible witness when he got a call from the missing girl's mom, Tara McDonald - she thought the woman in the video could be someone she knew as "Terri".
"She mentioned they had bred puppies together," Kelly explained. "There was a distinct walk from the footage that she recognized."
With a general geographic location from McDonald, he plugged the information into the police database and came up with a possibility: Terri McClintic was wanted for violating her probation. He decided to check her out.
McClintic came to the door and agreed to be interviewed about Tori. Arrested on the outstanding warrant, she was taken to the station and asked to bring along any white jackets that she had. She brought a white cloth blazer and a pink ski jacket.
McClintic was doing her clumsy best to avoid being considered a suspect: Not only did she not have a similar white jacket as the mystery woman in the video but she told the detective that while she'd recently cut her hair - everyone knew the kidnapper had long hair - it was only because she'd got gum in it. She even showed Kelly her locks in the bathroom garbage can, with the gum still attached.
As if she were a five-year-old who couldn't keep gum in her mouth. The alarm bells must have been ringing for him.
McClintic also seemed to be trying to establish an alibi. She told Kelly that on the afternoon Tori went missing, she was at Community Employment Services looking for work. Following up on her information, he confirmed she'd signed in there at 2:19 p.m.
But Tori was seen with the white-coated woman one hour and 13 minutes later.
From seized records, the detective learned more about the woman eventually convicted of murder: McClintic had last worked for three weeks in November 2008 as an industrial cleaner at a Toyota plant, but it wasn't clear if she'd been laid off or fired. And her last job before that?
"I cared for children eights months to five years of age," she wrote on her resume. "Prepared healthy meals and snacks, fulfilled basic everyday needs. Created and participated in appropriate activities."
With just a Grade 9 education, she wanted to look into getting a high school diploma but admitted her lack of education was holding her back. She also checked off a box that said "I tend to become angry easily" and then handwrote: "Been able to maintain control over situations."
Kelly dug deeper. He discovered McClintic used the job centre's computer that afternoon and had been conversing on Facebook at 1:21 p.m., replying to a friend who'd messaged her more than a month before: "Hey srry sugga shits been a lil krazy latley so i ahvent had a lotta time or money to put time on the cell and i moved," she wrote. "Defintely needa hook up and have a few drinks lol...wink, wink but only a few haha..."
Laughing about talking about getting drunk just a few short hours before she was to abduct that little girl.
Kelly, so calm and professional in his testimony, became oddly silent when Crown attorney Michael Carnegie then asked how the investigation changed on May 19, 2009. It took a moment to realize that he was overcome with emotion and the words just wouldn't come.
All their hard work, all their hope of bringing Tori home alive, died on that day. And at the memory, the wonderful, hard-nosed cop began to cry.
"It went from an abduction to a homicide investigation," Kelly finally replied. "Even to this day, it had a pretty big impact."
The former babysitter he'd brought in a month before had confessed that there was no hope to be had. Tori was dead.