Series of break-ins in the Headon, Millcroft, Alton Village and Orchard communities – they are looking for gold jewelry for the most part.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  June 7, 2012  They first of all ensure that you aren’

The police cannot protect our propert without help from the public.

t home by either ringing your doorbell or calling the house.

If you`re not home – they kick in the door and proceed to ransack daytime residential break-ins that have occurred in the Headon Forest, Millcroft, Alton Village and Orchard communities of Burlington.

The Halton Regional Police are investigating a number of daytime residential break-ins that have occurred in the Headon Forest, Millcroft, Alton Village and Orchard communities of Burlington.

Eight reported incidents have occurred since February 25th and investigation has revealed these occurrences are likely connected.   In all eight cases the front door is kicked open and the suspects primarily search for gold jewellery. Gold jewellery of South Asian origin is particularly sought after.

What can a homeowner do?  Short of putting a stout piece of wood or an iron bar across the door – which kind of takes something away from the décor of the house doesn’it – all the public can rely upon is watchful neighbours or some kind of home alarm system.  These are not that expensive and certainly worth looking into.  There is one with a $99 set up and $495 a month -0 less than the repairs you would have to do if you got an unwelcome call.

As always – keep the police informed – they can`t do their job without your help.




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Police identify and arrest three identity theft thieves.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 31, 2012  The Fraud unit of the Halton Regional Police is keeping very busy – they recently arrested three people who have been stealing identities and using those identities to purchase high value items at big box stores in a stretch of Ontario that runs from Mississauga to Brantford.

Detective Brad Murray, Regional Fraud Unit, who was involved in the arrest of a group that were skimming data from Automatic Teller Machines a number of months ago has put his experience with identity fraud to this most recent case.

The investigation into his most recent challenge began back in April and culminated on May 23rd with the arrest of three individuals and a search warrant on their residence.  Police recovered an assortment of gift cards, $8000.00 in US and Canadian currency along with $20,000.00 in jewellery.

Also located in the home were over 27 different identities and a taser/stun gun. Police are in the process of contacting the victims of the identity thefts and the investigation is still ongoing as investigators anticipate laying additional charges.

Charges are Craig Alanzo McIntosh (37), Kevin Oneil McIntosh (35) and Jennifer Halyk (32) all of Mississauga. The trio face over 95 criminal code charges relating to Fraud, Possession of Property Obtained by Crime and Possession of Identity Information.  All are scheduled to appear in Milton Court on the 19th of June, 2012.


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It took a little while but police arrest Hamilton resident for assault at Club 54 on Harvester Road.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  May 24, 2012  It looks as if the Burlington detachment of the Regional Police are making it very clear that they will not put up with rowdy scenes in the “club” district along Harvester Road or the South Service Road part of town.

Way back in April there was an assault that sent a man to hospital with serious injuries.  There was an argument between two patrons outside Club 54, at 3345 Harvester Rd., in Burlington at  2:30 a.m.

The victim, a 21-year-old Oakville man, was punched in the head by another unknown male resulting in injury to the victim. The assailant fled the scene on foot and police are seeking assistance in identifying him.

He was described as white in his early 20’s, 5’6 to 5’8, small build with an olive/dark complexion and shaved head.  He was wearing a grey sweater, grey jacket and jeans.

The victim was transported to Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital.

And that’s where things stood – until May 20th , when a comprehensive investigation and some police with keen observation skills made an arrest.

Charged with assault causing  bodily harm is Tariq HIJAZI, 24,  of Hamilton

The accused will next appear in court on June 20, 2012.

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Author is Mother of an 11 year old daughter, resident of Woodstock who has finally come to terms with the murder of Tori Stafford.

By Martha Emonts

WOODSTOCK, ON  May 23, 2012    For the past few weeks I have written over 12,000 words on the abduction and murder of Tori Stafford. I have tried to give you the one perspective that has been missing from most reports on the subject. While most articles have focused on what has happened to the victim, her family or the apprehended killers, I have tried to show you what Tori’s story has done to an average parent within the community and the community itself. Hopefully I have provided you with some insight into my hometown and how we felt about this tragedy.  All that is left to tell you is about my experience in writing this and maybe to answer a few questions that have crossed your minds while reading the various sections.

I didn’t tell many people I was publicly writing about the murder. I kept it quiet for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most prominent was that that the case was very emotional for my hometown. There was a great deal of debate over almost every aspect of the case, the vast majority of it rife with some form of controversy. You have to understand in a small town like Woodstock, old fashioned values and justice are still brimming near the surface. You’ll find more “eye for an eye” than “turning the other cheek”.

The trial renewed discussion about capital punishment, with even my own family disagreeing over the “what should be“ fate of Tori’s killers. Those discussions were not pleasant and involved a lot of heated words and flustered conversations. Some of my family knew I was writing these segments and followed along religiously- maybe not always agreeing, but okay with what I wrote because I kept things fair. A couple would call to tell me I was wrong and I shouldn’t have said something a certain way. And I only told the more tolerant ones. Could you imagine telling the others? Yeah,…not likely.

Now you might be thinking; wouldn’t I be worried they might stumble across my article and see what I wrote? You’re right, I was worried about that. But steps were taken to avoid that issue all together. No I didn’t email viruses to their computers. I did something much more devious- I adopted a pen name. Elizabeth Maloney does not exist anywhere but in my mind.  I`ll tell you a bit more about that in a minute.

For now, let`s go back to my clandestine existence of writing under a pen name about a topic that was highly controversial in my world. Articles were written late at night after my daughter was in bed, because with having a full time job, it was the only time I could put fingers to keyboard. Reviewing the heinous details of Tori`s tragic murder every night before bed, it’s a wonder I didn’t have nightmares.  The articles took their toll on me, leaving me raw with emotion some nights.

One such night, I made the mistake of watching part of the movie `The Lovely Bones`.  For those of you who have not seen the movie, its about a young girl who is murdered by a man in her neighbourhood and the story is about her transition from earth to heaven, watching her family and her murder from the place in between. There were so many similarities between the movie and Tori that I ended up in tears. It was probably the rawest and most emotional moment I felt while doing this series, but it was also the best. By the time I went to bed that night I felt I was meant to see that movie when I did. The little girl in The Lovely Bones resolves what she needs to and happily moves on to heaven feeling at peace with herself and filled with love for her family. That night, as the tears streamed onto my pillow, I imagined the same for Tori. I felt relief for that little girl. Knowing that she was probably looking down at us the same way and knowing she was finding the peace we were so badly struggling to find here on earth.

And on many nights my daughter went to bed puzzled at why her mother had insisted on hugging her several times before she went to sleep. Tori has reminded me that even though my daughter drives me absolutely crazy most of the time now, our time together is very precious. Neither my daughter nor I have been given a guarantee for tomorrow. The last thing I want her to hear from me at bed time is how much I love her and how she is the best thing I have ever done with my life. Tori has given me the greatest gift- the gift of appreciation for my child. In a world where we often put people off or let angry words get in the way, I have been given a powerful reminder of how we have to cherish every moment we can, because that moment just might be our last.

Martha Emonts, mother of an 11 year old daughter who wrote of the trial that convicted the murderer of Tori Stafford.

So today I put the last couple of things to rest. Today I let go of little Tori, hoping I did her some justice in my telling of the events. The little girl I have come to affiliate with my own child. I feel like Tori has become part of my life and having to let her go is proving more difficult than I had once thought. But let her go I must, because life must go on.

And lastly, today, I also put my pen name to rest. Over the weeks I have given you a glimpse into my thoughts and feelings, all while keeping you in the dark about my true identity. It was a necessity at the time but with the case resolved, the murderers firmly behind bars and everyone beginning to move on with their lives, it is time I fess up and do the same. These 12 segments you have loyally read for the past few weeks under the name of Elizabeth Maloney, actually belonged to me, Martha Emonts;  thirty-six year old mother of one beautiful 11 year old daughter and a proud resident of the City of Woodstock.

Editors note: Martha Emonts works in Burlington and sent us a note about what she felt was an error on our part in a piece we had written – she was right.  We corrected the mistake and in the process learned of her feelings about the trail then taking place in London, Ontario of the man accused of murdering  8 year old Tori Stafford in Woodstock, Emonts home town.  While not a Burlington story, Emonts works in Burlington/Hamilton in the finance industry and we felt her raw emotions were worth publishing.  Children being taken off the street and never again seen by their parents is, as Emonts’  put it: can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

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Part 11


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What does the brutal murder of a delightful, inquisitve friendly little eight year old girl do to a community? How does it recover?

Part 11

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

By Elizabeth Maloney WOODSTOCK, ON May 19, 2012  Can we move on from this? And how?

For three plus years, the City of Woodstock has talked about, thought about or debated about the death of Victoria Stafford.  We were consumed with finding the little girl and then with finding her killers. But now that Tori has been laid to rest, and her murderers tried and behind bars, what is there left to do? It’s kind of like the first few days after you graduate from high school- you are grateful you survived, that you finally succeeded and now that it’s over, you’re not sure what to do with yourself.

Much like any other small Ontario town - the recent addition of a large auto assembly plant brought lots of jobs to the city but other than that - it's just another small town that drew some attention it could have well done without.

But much like high school, after a few days of reveling in the success, you get the idea that you have to move forward, get your direction and put one foot in front of the other. And that is where Woodstock is. We’ve been celebrating the verdict, but now it’s time we find our way. How have things changed for Tori’s family, the Oxford County Police Services and the community as a whole?

Our mourning period sufficiently satisfied, now it’s time for new growth from the ashes.

Signs of life after Tori are starting to bud sporadically around the City, much like tiny buds on a tree during the first warm days of spring. Tori’s mother, Tara McDonald has announced her plans with a job waiting for her and going back to school in her future, working towards her goal of becoming someone Tori would be proud of.

Rodney Stafford, Tori’s father, has stated that he is going to do something to make sure some good comes out of this tragedy, by continuing to raise money for ChildFind, challenging current laws or pushing for security cameras in schools. While the rest of Tori’s family have not publicly announced their plans, rest assured they are picking up the pieces much like Tara and Rodney and trying to move forward as best they can.

Since the investigation into Tori’s abduction and murder, Oxford Community Police Services (OCPS) has waged a war on drugs in the city. Woodstock was saddled with allegations of having a seedy, underground drug culture running rampant within the city limits. Every community has drug issues – even Woodstock – but I don’t think our “problem” is any larger than most other communities. I think the chief difference is that no one believed the friendly City of Woodstock had one. There is no doubt of the drug connection to this murder, with three of the major players in this investigation reported in the media as having a drug addiction; one could hardly argue. This case shone a bright light in that dark corner, making it impossible to ignore.

Woodstock - a city with an old city hall, a pleasant city hall square - quiet sort of suburban - a decent place to raise kids - and then everything changed.

Tori’s murder case provided the catalyst needed to motivate OCPS to launch a crackdown on the supply of drugs like Oxycontin. In the few years since Tori’s murder they have offered help to addicts while simultaneously breaking up the channels the drugs flowed through. Chief Rodney Freeman spoke of this when he said “We’re not going to win the war on drugs. But our effort has been to disrupt and displace the drug cultures within our city to the very best extent we can.” In other words, they’re not going to be able to eliminate the drug issue completely, but they sure as heck were going to make it harder for them to operate.

As for the many families in Woodstock, when Tori went missing the expected reactions occurred. Parents became more cautious, not allowing children to venture far, and in some extreme cases at all. We didn’t just watch our kids, we watched other peoples’ kids! My own child was sequestered to the back yard when she asked to go outside, with instructions not to play out the front of the house and to come in immediately should anyone come around. Tori’s story had rattled most of us parents. We were suddenly aware that two predators had been lurking amongst us for quite some time. It was alarming to say the least and we reacted the only way we knew how- out of fear.

Perhaps the saddest thing I learned out of all of this was the reaction of the children of Woodstock. According to a lady who works for one of the family services agencies in the city, they fielded calls from parents asking how to answer their children’s questions about Tori. Children who usually remain oblivious to the harsh realities of the world around them somehow were not immune this time. They were painfully aware of what had happened to Tori and many of them had questions. Parents were challenged with finding the right answers- giving enough so their children realized the gravity of the situation, but not enough to irrevocably scare them into hiding.


Lots of sports teams with parents heavily involved - the author of this series, a resident of Woodstock, coaches her daughters soccer team - but it isn't the same

So are our children still “bubble-wrapped” and under careful guard today? No, not really. While we still keep watchful eye, as parents we know we can’t watch our children every single second of their lives. Instead of locking them away out of the fear we felt, we teach them how to protect themselves and I believe that most of the parents within the city are doing just that, or at least moving towards that. Education programs about strangers were renewed in the schools and parents employed the buddy system, cell phones and check in times as a means of giving their children freedom but security at the same time. We are giving our children the tools to survive in a world that does not care about their innocence. Because we know that to just lock them up only imprisons them and does nothing to teach them about survival. We can’t stop all the predators before they strike, but we can arm our children with the tools to avoid, out-smart and escape them. Some argue this is robbing our children of their innocence. But I look at it this way, better to be robbed of innocence in this manner than for a predator to do the robbing and my child end up like Tori.

We are making progress, but with all tragedies, it will take some time. Wounds this severe don’t heal overnight. We are on the right path and pointed in the right direction. The bottom line is that Woodstock came together in this tragedy. Our citizens participated in the searches, the vigils and sadly the memorials of Tori Stafford. We cried, we raged, we mourned. We circled around Tori and her family and banded together even in our darkest hours. If after seeing that, you still have doubt that Woodstock will bounce back from our loss, let me be clear: Speaking on behalf of my city, we will heal. We will rise from the darkness, if for no other reason out of respect and homage to our dear little Tori. Our innocence may be lost, but our spirit is still fully intact.

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Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10





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Good police work means putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Halton Regional Police doing just that – can you help?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   May 18, 2012  The Burlington detachment of the Halton Regional police have noticed a string of disturbing incidents involving young students and think there might be a pattern.  Here is what they know so far – can you help with any piece of this puzzle?

Incident 1:

On May 15th at 1:40 p.m. a man in a parked car struck up a conversation with a 15 year old female student at a bus stop in front of MM Robinson HS, located at 2425 Upper Middle Rd., Burlington. The male asked questions about the school, asked for the student’s name, and even asked the student to reach through the open window to hand him a piece of paper that was located on the passenger seat. The student did reach into the car; however the man made no attempt to grab or harm her.

The man is described as 55-60 years, heavy build, South Asian.  Vehicle description: Silver – four door.

That young lady should never has put her hand into the car.  The police officer taking the report must have cringed as he listened to the student.

Incident 2:

They are out there - they are dangerous - but we can teach our children how to protect themselves.

On May 17th at 4:30 p.m. two 15 year old males were walking along Tavistock Drive near Clarksdale Public School. A man drove up to them, got their attention, held up a package of cookies and offered them one.  The man is described as white, 60 years old, average build, white/grey hair, wearing glasses.  Vehicle is described as a black, four door Lincoln.

Does any of this trigger something you saw.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a complete recollection – the police know how to put the parts together – but they do need those pieces and they can only come from you.

Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2385, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).


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The trial is over, impact statements given, the sentence delivered and they all leave the Courtroom for the last time. Now what?

Part 10

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK, ON  May 16, 2012   Over the course of this trial, the family of Victoria Stafford has spent a large part of their time being spectators to the court proceedings.  Having to sit quietly on the sidelines and follow along, much like the rest of us, just with a closer seat. How frustrating the last ten  weeks must have been; to be voiceless in a room with the alleged killer sitting a dozen or so feet away. Your head and heart are screaming for justice.

Tara McDonald will carry questions for the rest of her life.

The silence broke yesterday when the family gathered in the Court Room for what should be the last time to take part in the sentencing hearing of Michael Rafferty. The judge would be ruling on Mr. Rafferty’s fate, having been found guilty last Friday night on the charges of first degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault. But not before the family would take the stand and explain how the loss of their beloved Tori has scarred their lives.

This is not the first time Tori’s family have given victim impact statements. They did so at Terri-Lynne  McClintic’s sentencing speaking of their tragic loss. It would seem though, that their harshest and most painful words were reserved for Rafferty.

Tori’s parents spoke along with statements from Tori’s brother Daryn, grandmothers, several aunts and uncles.  All of them listing the pain and suffering they have dealt with over the last three years. Unable to hold back her tears, Tara McDonald, Tori’s mother, spoke about having no choice but to be strong and how her pain pales to that suffered by her daughter. And how she had to trade in heartwarming moments like Tori’s prom, graduation and wedding, for sombre memories the likes of the day Tori went missing and the day she was found.

One of Tori’s aunts, Rebecca Nichols, echoed a similar sentiment. Saying that instead of remembering Tori the way she was with her beautiful blue eyes and her smile and laugh, every time she hears Tori’s name she now thinks first of the forensic photographs of Tori’s distorted body.


They were close to inseparable - except for that one day.

As heart-wrenching as these statements were, it was Daryn’s prepared statement read by Crown Attorney, Stephanie Venne, that grabbed everyone. Daryn wrote about being afraid to walk alone on the street without looking back. He talked about having low self-esteem and anxiety. He also spoke of his guilt; how Tori and him had fought before parting ways on April 8, 2009, not knowing it would be the last time he would ever see her. And then he explained the loss of his “bestest friend” the one who felt what he felt. “No hugs, no ‘See you later,’ no goodbyes, just a part of my heart ripped out,” Daryn wrote in his statement. Continuing on to say he feels so alone and that it’s like the world is playing a sick trick on him, but instead it was his reality.

Daryn’s grief even touched a chord with the defendant himself. Rafferty who had remained unemotional and detached throughout the trial, wiped away tears as he sat listening in the prisoner’s box. It was unexpected to say the least, but it garnered no sympathy from the family. If I were to hazard a guess, I would think the family was happy to finally see him feeling some kind of discomfort over what he had done.

Rodney Stafford struggles with his pain - now he and his son must work out the life they will live without Tori

Tori’s father, Rodney Stafford had the harshest words of them all for Rafferty. His grief and, at times, his rage were painfully apparent as he spoke to the court. Rodney told the court how he agonized over Tori’s disappearance until she was found in a rock pile near Mount Forest months later. Of how he had to visit his daughter’s grave stone to say hi and not by having her in his arms and holding her tight. At one point he looked at Rafferty and spoke to him directly, calling him a “piece of s**t”, eliciting applause from the courtroom observers. Rodney perhaps summed it up the best near the end of his statement when he said “Nothing will ever replace what was stolen from all of us. A human life, a child’s life, my daughter’s life.”

When the family finished their statements, the court asked Michael Rafferty if he had anything to say. After being silent throughout the entire proceedings, Rafferty decided to break his silence here and now. He said he admitted he was guilty of many crimes and there are things he was very, very ashamed of doing, but he still stands behind not guilty. He confessed that he believed he was a “definite part” of why Tori is not with us today and that although we may not be believe him, he is sorry. He hopes that everyone will find closure from his sentence.

In a move that I think none of us saw coming, Rafferty addressed Tori’s mother Tara directly during his address to the court. He offered to fill in “all the pieces of the puzzle” if she wanted to hear them, but away from the court, the media and the public. Was this a genuine offer or an attempt to cast some shadow back at Tara, who had often been the scapegoat for suspicion in this case? Surely people would question why this offer was made to Tara and not to Rodney or the family as a whole.

With all parties heard from, Superior Court Judge Thomas Heeney, gave his ruling on Rafferty’s sentence. He referred to the negative media attention that angered many regarding the excluded evidence obtained from Rafferty’s computer, explaining the necessity of a fair trial. He pointed out that character evidence is more about who the defendant is, not so much as to what he did, stating “Being a pervert does not mean that he is a murderer.” He went on to say “But with the verdict of the jury, that presumption of innocence has been stripped away, revealing who he really is: a child abductor; a child rapist; and a child murderer.” At the very end he told Rafferty he was a “monster.”

Daryn Stafford is a teenager now. His sister is still his" bestest" friend.

Rafferty was sentenced to twenty five years for the murder charge, and to ten years each for the kidnapping and sexual assault charges. The sentences were to be carried out concurrently. Rafferty is also banned from possessing any weapons, his name will be added to the sex offender’s registry and he also must provide a sample of his DNA. Rafferty will not be eligible for parole until May 19, 2034. However, he may be able to apply for the faint-hope clause after 15 years.

Unless an appeal is filed within the next  25  days, this will bring to a close the three year odyssey we have all endured. Tori’s family and the community of Woodstock will wake up today with no trial or verdict looming. Nothing left to do but to somehow get up and move forward in the aftermath of one of the city’s darkest and most painful periods. The city has changed; there is no doubt about it. Can we move on from this? And how?

Part 1

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Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9


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The murder trial of their daughter ready to go to a jury; Tori’s Mother and Father struggle to cope. They succeed.

Part 8

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK, ON  May 9, 2012   Imagine with me for a moment. I am going to ask you to imagine something horrible, but bear with me. Imagine one day after school, only one of your two children comes home- the other is missing. Twelve hours pass, then twenty-four,…still no sign of your baby. Another day goes by, and then another.

She just didn't come home. Her brother did, Tori didn't and she was never seen alive again.

Each day waking with renewed hope that today will bring answers, each night going to bed just as lost as the night before. The ache, the emptiness inside. The media surrounding your home, pointing a camera in your direction each time you emerge, wanting a sound bite on “how do you feel”. How would you feel? Being the spectacle of a nation; your every comment, tear and irrational reaction recorded for the masses to see? And later, for those eyes to turn their suspicious gaze on you, and you know they are thinking “maybe the mom or dad had something to do with this”.

That was life for Tara McDonald and Rodney Stafford. Treated to revolving bouts of sympathy, pity and suspicion. Knowing the entire country was watching them suffer, and not being able to deal with the darkest moment of their life in private. Something like this is difficult enough. Think about it. If it was your child, how rational would you be? Would you be worrying about what you wore to a news conference, or if what you were doing made you look suspicious. No, you wouldn’t- your mind would be where it should be- on your missing child.

But despite how awful the public ordeal of Tori’s abduction and subsequent murder may have been, I would think it would pale in comparison to having to deal with the trial, and being in the same room as her alleged murderers. For the past ten weeks, Tara and Rodney have sat in the same courtroom as Tori’s accused killers, Michael Rafferty and at times Terri-Lynn McClintic, with only several yards separating them. As a mother myself, I have no idea how Tara and Rodney have maintained enough composure to be able to be in the same room as Rafferty and McClintic without rushing the prisoner’s box.


The not knowing when on for day after day. The eyes of the public were on them every minute. An ordeal they did not need - but Tara McDonald managed to keep it together.

Yet somehow that is what they did. They endured the testimony of Terri-Lynn McClintic, who spared no detail in her narrative of the horror that Tori faced. Six long days of what was labelled the most disturbing testimony of the trial, and they were there every day. Sitting through the excruciating details compelled to bear witness to the crimes against their daughter- in the  only way they can  be there for her, this one last time.

And if the wound wasn’t raw enough, there were pictures; unrecognizable, horrific pictures of their once beautiful little girl. Identified only by her dental records and the Hannah Montana shirt she was wearing when she disappeared. The pictures were more than Rodney could handle and he left the courtroom- it was the only time he left the proceedings. Tara stayed behind crying as the images flashed by. The Coroner explained the state of Tori’s body, every gruesome piece of evidence laid out before the court. Every word another reminder that Tori will never come home.

Of all the proceedings there was one single thing I found more appalling than anything else. On the day of the Coroner’s testimony, some of the most sensitive testimony of the trial, Michael Rafferty wore a deep purple shirt and purple striped tie. It was the same shade of purple that had become synonymous with Tori, and the colour of the ribbons her family wore in her memory. The audacity of his wardrobe choice left me fuming. For the accused to come to court in a show of solidarity to the victim’s family was a huge slap in the face to Rodney, Tara, their families and the community as a whole. And I was not alone in this opinion, with other members of the community taking note of it as well. Whether that was Rafferty’s idea or that of his defence council, Dirk Derstine it was in poor taste.

In spite of all these painful obstacles, Tara and Rodney have fared reasonably well through the trial. Tara was more outspoken during Tori’s disappearance, holding daily media conferences on her front lawn. During the trial she has become a little quieter, taking a bit of a backseat in the media eye. She has kicked the drugs and has been clean for six months now. After a brief move to Brantford, she came back to Woodstock and has been at nearly every session of the McClintic and Rafferty trials.

No longer with the Mother of his daughter Rodney Stafford handled his grief in his own way; resolved to be in the court room every day with a picture of his daughter in his hand.

Rodney on the other hand is determined to build a legacy for his daughter. He has made numerous appearances over the last three years. Showing up on Charles Adler’s program, raising money for ChildFind and speaking to the media at every opportunity. Even pushing a bill proposal loosely named Tori’s law that calls for capital punishment for child killers. He has kept the promise he made at the beginning of the trial to be there and look his daughter’s accused killers in the eye.

It seems that despite their tragic loss one silver lining has come from this horrible event- both Tara and Rodney seem to be stronger people for it. Both of them have come a long way in the last three years. More action, more attention to the family and more cooperation with each other. If Tori were here she would be proud of both of them.

With the prosecution finishing their closing remarks today, the case will soon be in the jury’s hands. Tori’s family will not likely have to wait long now for the final resolution in this case. The last shred of justice to be served in Tori’s name. After that, the media will subside and Tori will become a memory for most of us. But for her family it will be just another day of trying to live without their beloved little girl.

So now, we await the verdict.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

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The cyber crooks never stop; they are relentless. The best defence you have is to be vigilant.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 12, 2012  The email said I had recently changed my Facebook password.  I didn’t change that password and the email message was not from Facebook – but it certainly looked that way.

The message I got, set out below, needs to be looked at carefully – the way you look at your bank statement.

Look at the address he email came from –

Facebook <>

that’s not Facebook.  That’s a bunch of crooks on the other side of the world who want to steal my identity and with the bits and pieces they father they will create a profile of me and decide if I am worth trying to steal something from.

Read the address of the sender - that is not Facebook - that's someone pretending to be Facebook.

When these crooks succeed, and they succeed far more often than we realize, they do massive damage to the finances of the person they are attacking and sometime to the close to irreparable damage to reputations.

You can steer clear of much of this by being attentive – realize they’re out there and for them it costs next to nothing to send out electronic messages with the hope they will snag you.

The one thing the public needs is a place to send the attempts they get – the police are pretty good at tracking this kind of thing – but they need to know it is taking place.  The more they know the faster they can act.

At some point we will have an international agency that can track, apprehend, arrest and punish these crooks.

But for now – when you learn something tell your friends.  And pay attention.


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Guilty, guilty, guilty – he will rot in that prison. Tori Stafford’s murderer to be formally sentenced next week.

Part 9

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

 By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK ON  May 11, 2012    At 9:09pm Friday evening, there was a silence throughout Woodstock. The news was broadcasting- the verdict is in. I was on my cell texting friends, warning everyone to get in front of a TV  A friend, who does not have cable,  dashed over to her neighbour and banged on the door. Her startled neighbour was puzzled until she told him the verdict was in as she rushed into the house.   It was that important. I think the city must have ground to a halt. In fact the more I think about it, I am sure there were no cars going by on my usually busy street. We were all waiting, holding our breath.

I had Goosebumps and the hair on the back of my neck was standing on end. I was furiously texting between 3 people. This is it. They are back earlier than we had thought. This was either going to be really good or really bad. The newscasters keep promising any moment we will know, be it seemed to be taking forever.

He will live in a prison with Bernardo and Williams and sit in his cell for 23 hours of each day. Child molesters are seen as the worst of the worst in prison society - there are men in there who will want to do to him what he did to that eight year old child.

And then suddenly,…..Count 1, murder in the first degree: GUILTY! I swear I heard a collective cheer within the city.  More texting back and forth. Count 2, kidnapping: GUILTY! And Count 3, sexual assault: GUILTY!  I believe a loud “YES!” escaped my lips and I pumped my fist. It was a celebration! It was over and Tori had justice!  It was like a weight suddenly lifted off the entire city.

More messages back and forth. Many wishing Rafferty would rot in prison. Several stating they wish Canada had the death penalty back. Postings littered Facebook, many making similar statements. In the end we just all felt better. We all felt he was guilty and now it was fact. Michael Rafferty was no longer the accused- it was Michael Rafferty, the convicted murderer and rapist of Tori Stafford. It was vindication, for Tori, her family and Woodstock as a whole.

Tara McDonald - an addiction to drugs brought her into a world with people who would end the life of her daughter.

Tori’s mother, Tara McDonald, left the courtroom quickly and did not stop to talk to the media. The emotion of the moment must have been overwhelming. Tori’s brother Darren was reportedly with her in the courtroom. Now 14 years old, he and his mother hugged when the verdict was announced. Someone in the courtroom asked Tara if she was happy and she said yes.

Rodney Stafford and his mother Doreen Graichen came out and spoke to the reporters. Rodney close to tears at one point said that they were “happy” with the verdict and thanked the Crown, the investigators, the people of Woodstock and even the whole province.

The Crown and Police Services both made several statements, but refused to answer questions, out of respect for the McDonald/Stafford families. They also cited the 30 day waiting period for the appeal. It was short and sweet and to the point. Rafferty was going to prison and for no less than 25 years. The soonest Rafferty could be released from prison would be 2037.

I had tears in my eyes. Especially when Rodney spoke. As I said before, I didn’t know the family, but in the last three years, I felt I knew Tori and in a way I had come to love her, just as the rest of the city had. The emotion of it all was a lot to deal with. Especially in light of what we had learned about Rafferty since the Jury was charged and sequestered.

Back on Wednesday, when the jury was safe away from the public, debating in a room in the London courthouse, new details began to leak out about the investigation into Rafferty.  Police had found much more evidence than we had been led to believe. When Rafferty was arrested he had his IPod Touch with him which was seized and searched. A search warrant was issued for Rafferty’s residence and a search there found a hard drive in a plastic bag hidden behind his dresser.  The hard drive harboured images of child porn and the laptop had a history of searches for “pre-teen” and “underage rape”.  He also downloaded a movie on Karla Homolka, at least one snuff film involving a child and a “how to” guide for raping children.

Unspeakable grief - Tori's Father sitting with his Mother.

Pretty damning evidence right? Wrong! The jury would never hear about it. The evidence was found under a faulty search warrant that omitted to list contents of computers or other electronics. Justice Thomas Heeney, ruled on January 31, 2012 that Rafferty’s rights were violated by the search of the electronics, as police did not have the appropriate warrant and thus the evidence was set aside.

Residents of Woodstock, and practically everywhere, were outraged when they heard this.  To most of us, this erased all doubt in our eyes about Rafferty’s guilt. To know the jury may never hear it was like a stake driven through the heart. Many of us had been debating if they would convict Rafferty on the sexual assault charge and to know the evidence was right there, but inadmissible was utter torture. If he  somehow escaped the charge, I don’t know what we would have done.

But the jurors saw through it. Their almost uncanny perception of this case drove them to stop deliberations and ask for clarification of what could be termed sexual assault. Pointing specifically to Tori’s clothing from the waist down being removed. I think that astute question is what sealed the fate of Mr. Rafferty. That is personal opinion, but I honestly believe that. I’m sure we will find out from the jurors themselves in the days to come.

So tonight Woodstock breathes a heavy sign of relief. An end to a nightmare and the hellish ordeal of bringing the responsible parties to justice. As Rodney said during his interview tonight, it doesn’t bring Tori back. But I’ll tell you what,  it does give us: a little bit of justice and a whole lot of closure. It is now time for the family to heal and begin the process of living life without Tori. Their battle is far from over.  Every day will still present challenges in dealing with their grief. I wish them well and I hope they find  a reason to smile again.

All the public could see was a sweet innocent child - and it was painful.

But for tonight all there is left to say is “Rest in peace Tori –  finally, you can rest in peace.”

Next week a judge will formally sentence Michael Rafferty to “life in prison”, which under out laws means he must remain in a prison for not less than 25 years.  There is a faint hope” cause that allows him to apply for an earlier release.   There is a reason for calling it the faint hope clause.

During the sentencing victims of this horrible, despicable crime are given an opportunity to make a statement on the impact the crime has had on their lives.



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Suspects arrested. Now for the trial. We expected it to be a simple case of convicting – little did we know.

Part 7

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

 By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK, ON  May 10, 2012  With Tori’s accused murderers finally behind bars, now there was nothing to do but prepare for the trial. Things became calm and quiet for quite a long time. But on December 9, 2010 news broke that Terri-Lynn McClintic had plead guilty to the first degree murder of Tori Stafford. But not on that day- way back on April 30, 2010. A publication ban placed by the courts had pre-empted our knowledge of this fact, but a Supreme court decision was now allowing us some of the details of McClintic’ s plea and how it played out.


The community felt cheated when there was no trial for Terri-Lynne McClintic -just a sentencing hearing at which Tori's brother spoke of losing his "bestest" friend.

As a member of this city I have to admit, I was stunned. I couldn’t believe this all happened months ago and was hidden from us. I felt cheated. Our community collectively looked for Tori, worried about Tori and mourned Tori and now we had been shut out of getting justice for “our” little girl.

I understand that it was all a necessary part of the legal wrangling that go hand-in-hand with a case like this, but still it hurt. Terri-Lynn McClintic escaped having to face the community as a whole and I was just going to have to get over the injustice of it all.

At least she had to face Tori’s family. They were in court that day and even gave victim impact statements before her sentencing. One by one, they took the stand. Tori’s mother Tara, father Rodney, brother Darren and other family members, told of a loss that pales to all else in this world. Their messages were a blend of sadness for the loss of Tori in their life, how their world was different now and the outrage of why it was their family member who had to die. Darren’s was perhaps the most painful to hear, speaking of the loss of his “bestest friend” and how she was the most important person in the world to him.

After all the proceedings were said and done, Terri-Lynn was sentenced to life- the mandatory sentence in a first degree murder plea. Her sentence was to be served at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario. Terri-Lynn had already served 7 months of her sentence by the time we finally found this all out.

In addition to Terri-Lynn’s plea arrangement and sentence, an edited version of McClintic’s statement to police, an edited version of the agreed statement of facts describing the events of April 8, 2009 and details of her cooperation with police were also publicized for the first time. Finally we had a time-line of the day in question, from when Tori was abducted to her untimely death only hours later.  McClintic admitted her guilt, freely and willingly, even attempting to express remorse for her actions. And now she was going to jail, her part in this tragedy played out and judged. But that was not the end of Terri-Lynn’s involvement. We would see her again in 2012.

We heard almost nothing from McClintic during her sentencing - but we would hear from her again in 2012 - it was to be terrible.

With McClintic successfully navigating a clear and media-free path to jail, the public was still looking to hold someone accountable. Enter Mr. Michael Rafferty, McClintic’s boyfriend and co-conspirator. Upon his arrest, Rafferty took the opposite approach to that of his former girlfriend. He hid from the cameras and refused to co-operate with police. Since his arrest in May 2009, Rafferty has not said one word. He never spoke out; not even to proclaim his innocence. There is a saying “ better to remain silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Either Rafferty or his lawyers must have seen the wisdom  in this old adage.  And as we were about to find out it would seem his whole defense was based on this premise.

On March 5th, 2012, the case that was supposed to happen in 2010 finally began in a courtroom in London. Proceedings had been moved from Woodstock to protect the integrity and fairness of the trial. No one in Woodstock seemed to mind though. No one wanted Rafferty to have grounds for appeal, so it had to be done right. The general outlook on the situation can be summed up using the words of a fellow Woodstonians. “(Rafferty was).. far enough to be tried and close enough to burn.” And almost everyone in Woodstock wanted him to “burn”.

As anxious as we were to have the murder trial underway, we weren’t prepared for some of the horrible details that would be revealed through the course of witness testimony. I will warn you, just as the judge warned the jury, some of these details are very disturbing and can be quite difficult to handle. But as I see it, we have to face the evil in order to honour Tori and her memory. The only way to acknowledge Tori’s life is to acknowledge the agony she endure for those last few hours of her life.

The Crown called 61 witnesses in total- Tori’s 3rd grade teacher, her mother Tara McDonald, co-accused Terri McClintic, the Coroner and the OPP officer who found Tori’s body, just to name a few.

Tori Stafford's grade three teacher took the stand for what had to be one of the hardest days in her teaching career.

Tori had left school just like any other day and was walking to her mother’s place on Frances St. But as we all too well know, she never made it there. Terri-Lynn picked up the tale at that point, telling the courtroom how she approach Tori and talked to her about seeing her puppy. She lured Tori into Rafferty’s car and the final moments of Tori’s life began to tick away. She told how they stopped so Rafferty could buy drugs and another stop at the Home Depot in Guelph so she could purchase the supplies that would aid in concealing Tori’s broken little body.

And then the drive to the abandoned, secluded field off of 6th Concession near Mount Forest. McClintic said Rafferty had been talking of abducting a child and had even wanted one younger than Tori for his sinister purposes. According to McClintic, she walked away from the car, giving Rafferty the opportunity to repeatedly rape the little girl. McClintic only came back when Tori asked to go to the bathroom, taking the little girl by the hand. I can only imagine what must have been said between them. Tori’s tear-stained face, pleading to just go home. McClintic reassuring the girl to quiet her.

Tori died shortly after that, leaving the mystery of who really killed her. Crushing her skull with a claw hammer and breaking 16 of her ribs, one of them brutally murdered Tori. Only three people know the truth about that moment: Rafferty, McClintic and Tori. No matter who delivered the devastating blows, one could argue the other facilitated these events. One killed Tori and the other helped kill Tori with their inaction. Then they worked together to bury Tori in garbage bags, under a pile of rocks.

The Coroner Dr. Pollanen testified to Tori’s injuries, supporting McClintic’s account of events, but could not offer proof of the sexual assault. Tori’s body was found with no pants, clad only in her Hannah Montana shirt.  Her body was already in an advanced state of decomposition when she was found and that area of her body had already deteriorated completely, thus eliminating any trace of the alleged assault.

She had been murdered the day she was abducted her body left under a pile of rocks.

OPP Det.-Staff Sgt. Jim Smyth, also took the stand, as the officer that found Tori’s body. He testified to the nature in which Tori was found and corroborated McClintic’s testimony of how she & Rafferty disposed of the body.  Smyth had used information regarding Rafferty’s cell phone usage in the area, and acting on a hunch went for a drive to check out the area. After noting similarities to McClintic’s confession he continued to investigate until he found a rock pile,…and Tori.

Rafferty’s behavior after the crime was also presented to the court. Rafferty was portrayed as a womanizer, frequently juggling women. They attempted to show how he manipulated them, specifically talking one, a mother of four, into prostitution and channeling the proceeds directly to him.  After eight  weeks of testimony, the prosecution rested.

The media waited with baited breath- would Rafferty take the stand to refute the testimony of his ex-girlfriend?  Maintaining his silence it was announced Rafferty would not be taking the stand in his own defense. Instead the Defence’s response was short and simple. They called one witness, previously unknown to anyone. This witness, a grandmother of another student at Oliver Stephens, testified that she saw Terri-Lynn inside Oliver Stevens. She claimed she saw McClintic walk away with Tori, looking very determined and on a mission. Rafferty’s attorney, Dirk Derstine, was trying to inject reasonable doubt into McClintic’ s testimony. Implying she forged the plot to abduct Tori as a means of enforcing a drug debt. He connected the dots between Tara buying drug’s from McClintic’ s mother Carol and showing they had previous knowledge of each other. Mr. Derstine was not trying to prove his client innocent, but merely to cast a broad enough shadow of doubt.


Rafferty in a police car. He chose not to take the witness stand. Was there enough evidence to convict?

And then unceremoniously, the Defence rested.

That brings us to today. Wrapping up it’s closing arguments, the defence went through its alternate theory once more and pointed out what was circumstantial. Almost wagging a finger at the jury and reminding them that they cannot convict if there is a reasonable doubt.

And in a day or two, Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas Heeney will charge the jury with determining the fate of Michael Rafferty. The decision to convict or acquit will be their’ s, and their’ s alone. All we can do is have faith and wait, hoping they make the best choice with the information presented to them.


Tori Stafford. We lost her - too soon. Woodstock needed a conviction.

It’s no secret that Tori’s family and the community of Woodstock are praying for a conviction in this case. Closure is desperately needed. Tori left our world just over three years ago, her last hours on this planet the most horrible a child could suffer. Tori was not allowed to die in peace, but perhaps with the end of the trial looming near, she will soon get to rest in peace.

Part 6

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We didn’t know it at the time but there was a break developing in the case. The police had a suspect.

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.


By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK, ON  May 5, 2012  The trial trying Michael Rafferty for the murder of Tori Stafford is in its final stages.  The prosecution made its case with close to a score of witnesses; the defence called just the one witness who with her testimony shed some serious light on the relation between Terri-Lynne McClintic and eight year old Tori.  It would appear from that testimony that the child knew McClintic who earlier plead guilty to the murder of the child.

Now it was all coming to a close – the jury would hear closing arguments from the prosecution and the defence and the judge would then instruct the jury and they would then deliberate and come back with a verdict.  In less than ten days the decision would be known.  Would Woodstock feel any sense of relief?  The city was feeling very anxious, worried and afraid three years earlier when we didn’t know enough.

In the weeks following Tori’s abduction, Woodstock had weathered a roller coaster of events. The parents were investigated, searches were conducted and the police scandalized over the Amber Alert. A reward for Tori’s safe return was offered by a mysterious unnamed benefactor and the child’s story was highlighted on America’s Most Wanted. The drama had played on and on and the emotion of it all was wearing on the community. We didn’t seem to be any further ahead than we were 41 days ago when it all started. Hope was dwindling. People began to vocally speculate Tori had met an unfortunate end. No trace, no signs – what other answer could there be?

Even Tara McDonald and Rodney Stafford, Tori’s parents, were reaching their limit. For the most part they had respected each other’s boundaries, not treading on each other in the public eye. But by May 15th,  2009,  something snapped and they were caught publicly bickering at each other during a news conference. The fact that they made it this far without something happening sooner was laudable. But the emotional toll of constant interviews and media conferences seemed to finally get to them. They made up a few days later when they jointly announced they had accepted the help of a private investigator and apologized to the media for their previous behavior. They wanted the focus to remain on Tori.

While being held on an unrelated charge Terri-Lynne McClintic was questioned about the murder of Tori Stafford.

Unbeknownst to Tara & Rodney, as they were representing their unified front, police were working on a break in the case.  A young woman named Terri-Lynn McClintic was in police custody and had been since April 12th on an unrelated charge. She had been placed in Genst Youth Detention Centre in London, and during her time there, had agreed to a polygraph test regarding that other charge. In order to prepare for administering the polygraph, police interviewed several of Terri-Lynn’s acquaintances, including Michael Rafferty, who had made two visits to see McClintic during her stay at Genst. On May 19th police administered the polygraph to McClintic with surprising results.

On the same day police arrested McClintic and later her friend Rafferty. During that polygraph on the unrelated charge, Terri-Lynn confessed to the abduction of Tori Stafford and implicated her friend Michael as her co-conspirator and identified him as Tori’s rapist and murderer. Rafferty was charged with first degree murder and abduction of someone under the age of 16. McClinitc was booked on abducting someone under the age of 16 and accessory to murder.

So there it was. Six weeks of mystery concluded with an answer no one wanted- Tori was dead. There was no body, so some in the community refused to give up hope. Most others accepted what they already felt all along. Tori’s young bright light had been snuffed out in a twisted reality that seemed more like an episode of Law & Order SVU than real life. It was a relief in some ways. It was over and the parties presumed responsible were in police custody.

It was also a  frustrating end to a very painful six weeks. Woodstock had invested a lot of time into Tori and finding her. The community involvement in the case was overwhelming, with many people actively volunteering. The last thing we had was hope- waning hope, but still hope. And now that too was taken from us. The fear of the unknown was gone and we were faced with the stark reality.

While the details were not fully known - there were now two people that were identified as being somehow involved with the murder of Tori Stafford. Michael Rafferty was the second suspect.

The attention in the community now shifted from Tori to these two suspects. Who were they? Where in the city did they live?  Had we been interacting with these people and not know what they really were? To many of us it was hard to comprehend that the people charged with this heinous set of crimes had been living amongst us all along. I found myself wondering if I had passed one or both in the local Wal-Mart or one of the grocery stores. It’s one thing to suspect there is a predator on the loose, it’s another to realize you may have been standing next to one of them in a line somewhere.

And my daughter- she was with me in those stores. Did they look at her? Did they think about taking another child?…. maybe even my own? It was a horrid thought but a realization I could not help but come to. How close did we come to these two suspects? Too close for me. I later found out both McClintic and Rafferty lived within less than a 2 km radius of my home.

The following weeks and months would be a continuous leak of new information about these two individuals. What they posted on Facebook, the things they said, the people they knew. What was once a lack of information had become an almost overwhelming wave of detail and minutia. Did I want to know this much about the alleged murderers of our beloved Tori? No, but I needed to know. I needed to face it out of respect for Tori.

The pictures of Tori Stafford were now harder to look at because we knew now we would never see her again.

The end of May brought the announcement that McClintic and Rafferty would be tried separately. Rafferty’s newly hired counsel speculated publicly that there was no need for it unless there was a deal in the works, a very bold jab at McClintic’ s camp. The pieces were starting to fall into place, with everyone beginning their preparations for the eventual trial. The roller coaster of information would take another dive as each camp begun to hold their cards closer to their chest, not wanting to tip their hand before their day in court. It would be the start of a 3 year battle to bring the accused killers to justice.

And what of Tori’s family? Now having to face the idea that they will never see their precious little girl again. Never again to hold her hand when crossing the street or feel the brush of her cheek as she kisses them goodnight. No prom, no graduation, no wedding or grandchildren. It was more than the loss of a life, it was the loss of a future. There is no charge for that, although there should be.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5






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Community begins to question how police are handling the search. Why no amber alert? OPP take over the case.

Part 5

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

  By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTCOK, Ontario May 6, 2012    The presentation of evidence in the trial is over.  Lawyers for each side in the murder trial of eight year old Tori Stafford prepare to make their submissions to a jury after which a judge will charge that jury and they will decide if there is any guilt.

The decision on the part of the defence lawyer to call just the one witness, did manage to raise some doubt as to just how young Tori Stafford came to walk out of her school with someone that was not her Mother.

The first degree murder trial of Michael Rafferty, boyfriend of Terri-Lynne McClintic who had already pled guilty of murdering the child, had been moved to London, Ontario.  McClintic had already plead guilty to the murder of Tori Stafford and was serving a life sentence.   The prosecution had made their case against Rafferty – his defence counsel said Rafferty will not testify and that they will call just the one witness.

The missing child case was still in the hands of the local police - the Provincial Police had not yet been called in. The community was not happy.

Throughout the duration of Tori’s disappearance, many questions had been raised. Why was Tori taken? Who was the woman in the video? Was she involved? Did the parents have something to do with her abduction? The list goes on. But no one question caused as much controversy, contention and anger than why didn’t the Oxford Community Police Services (OCPS) issue an Amber Alert?

Welcome to Woodstock, the “Friendly City”. A typical quiet community of 40,000 and the epicentre of a county servicing approximately 150,000 people. Woodstock at one time had its own police force. But several years back the county amalgamated the police force into one big happy Oxford Community Police Services. This spread 84 police officers over the county to service those 150,000 people.

Now I know what a lot of you might silently be thinking. Little backwards town, the police probably don’t get much experience with this type of situation. And you would be right- we don’t. But don’t mistake that for ineptness. They aren’t perfect, but neither is any other police force.

The imperfection of the OCPS was put under the spotlight when Tori was abducted. But can we really call it an imperfection? The OCPS consulted the Amber Alert guidelines shortly after Tori disappeared, but the case did not meet them. Quoting from the RCMP web page “Amber Alert is intended only for the most serious, time critical abduction cases.” With such a grave disclaimer, one would think those guidelines should be met fully and without question before raising the alarm. And this is what OCPS was looking at when the Alert was being considered.

Days passed and the residents of Woodstock became more and more agitated with the situation. Local blogs carried comments on the police force, some particularly aimed at the Chief of Police, Ron Fraser. Many weren’t specifically aware of the Amber Alert criteria and only saw black and white: missing child = issue Amber Alert. Some demanded he step down, some called him incompetent. Jokes were made about cops eating donuts instead of doing their job.

All the community had were pictures of an innocent child - not a single solid lead. She was just gone.

Realizing they were being demonized in the public eye for their course of action, OCPS put forth their spokesperson, Constable Laurie-Anne Maitland who handles public communications for the OCPS and often fields media enquiries. Defending the collective efforts of the OCPS she spoke to the media on April 13th advising the search “has not located something that would lead us to believe foul play may be a factor. “The news was not well-received and tensions grew.

But OCPS wasn’t the only game in town. On the day Const. Maitland, of the OCPS spoke and five days into Tori’s disappearance, a unit of the Ontario Provincial Police joined the case. It was given the special task of compiling a profile of Tori’s abductor(s). This single action almost confirmed the legitimacy of questioning OCPS’ actions and undermined their place in the case in one swoop. The OPP came in to “save the day”, and OCPS was left with egg on its face.

Const. Maitland was dispatched once again offering a defense for the handling of the case. She emphasized that they did not have the criteria to issue the Amber Alert, but reiterated the case was being treated as an absolute priority. While the explanation may have been legit, the public wasn’t willing to buy it this late in the game. The reasoning was offered too late. Had this been stated in the beginning, it may have been ok. Their cards would have been on the table and we wouldn’t have had to spend so much time guessing. After all, how do you convince the public that a child is not in imminent danger when she has been missing for days?

A day after vehemently defending their actions, the police were announcing that many tips have been received but none have been compelling enough to move the investigation forward. Feeling stalemated, the community rallied once more around Tori. On April 15th, they assembled to release purple balloons skyward, carrying Tori’s picture. It was a small gesture, but it was also action, something we the community had been craving.

All the community knew was that Tori was seen with a woman in a white puffy coat that no one knew.

For many, permanent relief came a mere two days later, when the OPP announced they were taking the lead in the investigation. Inspector Bill Renton was placed in charge. His first order of business was to announce Tori’s case, moving forward, would be treated as abduction. Finally! Many of us were stunned, probably because we weren’t sure we were ever going to hear those words. We had been waiting so long for someone to admit one of our children had been snatched from the safety of our streets. It was vindication. We knew it and now so did everyone else!

With the simple acknowledgement of what we as a community already knew, hope was almost instantly renewed. But truth be told, that is the only thing the OPP were able to give us over OCPS. All future evidence and endeavours into the investigation were a joint effort of the two police forces, although the OPP retains most of the credit.

OCPS stained by a lack of communication early in the case doomed themselves to lack of recognition for the actual hard work they put into the case. Many of the police officers at OCPS worked long hours, in the search for Tori. Once the dust had settled, many of us in Woodstock were able to acknowledge the contributions they made to the case, and how it took a toll on many of them. We could finally appreciate what they did and how they contributed to the search for Tori.

With some resolution to the animosity for the handling of case out of the way, Woodstock was left with only one concern: Where was Tori? Now the focus was back where it belonged all along. On our missing little girl and why hadn’t she come home. The investigation was about to turn. Fears of what happened to Tori would begin to be played out in the media as theories. No longer would they be in our head, but in black and white and in a manner we could not hide from.

A multi part series on the murder of Tori Stafford

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


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We knew next to nothing and had to live with rumours as the fear for our own children grew. Was Tori still alive?

Part 4

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception”.  Aldous Huxley, English Novelist, 1894-1963

 This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

By Elizabeth Maloney


ON  May 4, 2012   Terri-Lynne McClintic had pleaded guilty to the murder of Tori Stafford and her boyfriend was now on trial for the same offence.  The prosecution and the defence have rested their cases and are now into their address to the jury after which a judge will charge the jury and they will then deliberate.  A murder trial that has consumed Woodstock is coming to a close.  Getting to this point has taken years.  Martha Maloney has been a community based observer of all this and she tells the story from her perspective.  We pick up that story in the early stages of the case.

Tori Stafford was taken from her school where she was normally picked up by her brother. Other than some grainy video film we never got to see her again.

It’s human nature to want answers. And when there is a lack of it, then we humans create a theory or supposition. And in a case like the disappearance of Tori Stafford the fear of the situation, the dire need for answers, for her family and for the community, certainly fueled this basic human nature.

Suspicions about Tori’s parents’ involvement began to fly almost immediately. Within four days of Tori’s disappearance they were subjected to polygraph tests and questioning. To be a parent of a missing child is difficult enough, but to be considered suspect in your own child’s abduction is beyond comprehension. Yet that is what happened, with a heavy emphasis placed on Tori’s mother, Tara McDonald. Rodney Stafford, Tori’s father seemed to be spared further scrutiny once he had completed the polygraph.

Tara was first considered as a suspect in Tori’s disappearance early in the case. Speculation ignited over the grainy security camera footage obtained from the local high school that bordered Oliver Steven’s, Tori’s school. Similarities between the “person of interest” caught on tape and Tara were noted throughout the community. Comments turned more harsh when Tara began appearing at media conferences wearing a white coat. Many in Woodstock felt that at the very least, this was in poor taste. Ignoring the possibility that it may not have occurred as inappropriate to Tara given her state, many in the community began to paint Tara as a villain.

All the community and the police had was this grainy piece of video footage.

Then unexpectedly, late in April there was a brief reprieve from Tara’s vilification. Photos from the candlelight vigil held for Tori at the IGA plaza parking lot on April 12th started to surface.  And in them a woman was sited, and she had a remarkable resemblance to the composite sketch that police had issued on April 21st. The likeness between the two was uncanny. People got excited. This woman’s picture was posted on some of the local blogs with comments hoping police were looking into this. Nothing ever evolved from this though. We can only suppose the police investigated and found nothing.

On April 28th, 2009 Tara drew attention back to herself when she came forth to the media and police with the incredulous story of a mysterious benefactor who supposedly approached Tara with an offering to fund a $50,000 reward for information on Tori’s whereabouts. The story entailed a clandestine meeting in a hotel that she was somehow chauffeured by limo to without tipping off the press surrounding her house. It was like a page torn out of a modern day action flick- except this was real life. These things just don’t happen. Maybe Tara offered this up as a means of pulling the heat of the public eye off of her, but it only served to exacerbate things. Her credibility was called into question, and it renewed gossip and rumours that she must somehow be involved.

On May 8th, Tara’s family took a further hit when it was revealed by Tara herself that police have searched the homes of Tara’s half-brother and his mother in Calgary. She also advised the media her home computers had been seized by police. While none of it was proof of anything, many of us in Woodstock, me included, were starting to think, where there is smoke, there is usually fire. And there was plenty of smoke to go around. Not only were they looking at Tara, but now members of her family. What would draw police to Calgary? Something must have got their attention.

To further incite the masses, the beginning of May brought details of Tara’s drug use and drug connections. The rumours of her usage were now fact and Tara herself admitted to the suspected habit. This shifted suspicion slightly, causing people to theorize that Tori was taken to enforce or settle an unpaid drug debt. While Tara was no longer considered “hands on” involved, she was still tied to the notion as the instigator of events – so guilt by association.

Tori and her brother; often inseparable.

So there we were, already in the middle of May and the only thing we had was a whole lot of accusation and innuendo flying around. Tori had been missing for 37 days and the only thing to report was maybe it was the Mom. There was no hard evidence and not a single trace of Tori. No single piece of hard evidence had surfaced. A grainy video was as close as we got and that, in reality, showed nothing more than someone talking to Tori. Hardly damning evidence.

Frustration levels grew in the city and I was now beginning to believe that Tori was dead. As a mother I didn’t want to lose hope but I am also a realist. Child disappears, no physical evidence,  let’s face it, she was either dead or taken for the purposes of human trafficking. Either way Tori would never be seen again. I felt so guilty for thinking it, so much so that when asked of my opinion I often glazed over it. Hard for an opinionated person like me. But the city was so sensitive to the case I was afraid to offend anyone.

The police were also a sensitive topic with support falling on both sides of the fence. With no hard evidence, what did they have to offer? Did they know more than were saying? Was there as little development in this case as we the public were lead to believe? We were soon to find out….

 Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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It was a name we all now knew and a face we would recognize in an instant – but we didn’t know where she was and we were all afraid.

Part 3:

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.


By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTCOK, Ontario May 1, 2012    The first degree murder trial of Michael Rafferty, had been moved to London, Ontario.  Terri-Lynne McClintic had already pleaded guilty to the murder of Tori Stafford.   The prosecution has made their case against Rafferty – his defence counsel has said Rafferty will not testify and that they will call just the one witness.  The trial will move to its closing phase by the end of the week. But back in 2009 we were at the beginning of the story of this horrendous crime and it is important to understand what the community was going through.

The pictures of a cute 8 year old child now missing had captivated the community. It was to get worse.

On the first full day she was missing her name was Victoria Stafford and the Woodstock girl’s face was emblazoned on flyers and all over television.  The media broadcast the typical missing person description: 5’4” tall, 62 lbs. with blue eyes and short blonde hair. Last seen wearing a green shirt, denim skirt , black and white shoes and a black Hannah Montana jacket with white fur-lined hood;  possibly carrying a pink and purple Bratz bag. And that was all we knew of the missing child.

Over the next couple of days Victoria became “Tori”- the affectionate short-form of her name that her family and school mates called her. The police and media gave us the cute tender little insights to Tori in an attempt to humanize her, presumably to entice her abductors into releasing her. We learned Tori was just like other girls her age. She was a precocious, inquisitive child whose favourite colour was purple.  Tori liked puppies and butterflies. She was caring and had a tight relationship with her eleven year old brother Dylan.

The appeal did not work on Tori’s abductors but it certainly did on Woodstock. In a few days the community had adopted Tori as their own, many giving freely of their time, volunteering in the search for the lost little girl. She was the topic of daily conversations; ‘Have you heard the updates from the police? Who do you think took her?  Do you think we will find her?’ Everyone had a theory or a tid-bit to tell. All of us hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.

A Mother with a serious drug problem, separated from the Father of her children struggled to keep some semblance of sanity in her life faced a community that for a time suspected her.

I did not personally know Tori Stafford, or her parents, Tara McDonald or Rodney Stafford. I knew people who knew them, or knew of them.  The theories, viewpoints and gossip that spun, sometimes out of control, throughout Woodstock during her disappearance, are that of the community.  We were all lost, terrified, devastated.

As the days of searching dragged on, new information about Tori’s home life started to tell us a lot more about this little girl. Mainly about her home life and the type of relationship she had with her parents and brother. This little girl, that most people in the city did not know before her abduction, was now becoming someone whose home life and the intimate details of her family’s situation was being talked about by everyone.  There was no shortage of sympathy or worry for her.

The first thing that came to light was that Tori was not staying with either parent at the time she was abducted. She and brother Daryn had been living with their maternal grandmother, Linda Winters. It had yet to be fully explained why this was the case, though one might surmise it has something to do with Tara’s issues.

Tara McDonald, Tori’s mother, was living with her boyfriend James Goris and had actually just moved to a new place a week before Tori’s abduction. Many in the community have theorized that Tara’s addiction to the painkiller Oxycontin is the reason for her childrens alternate living arrangements.

Tara had been known in the community for her drug use; it was hardly a secret. Whether Tara had moved the kids in with her mother because she knew she was not able to look after them while battling her drug addiction or if the drug addiction left no room for the children in her immediate world was heavily debated in the community.  There was more than enough “judgement” going around to satisfy everyone.

Whatever the reason, it was clear there was some kind of disconnect between Tara and her children before Tori disappeared.

Tori's Father, absent from much of his daughters life, struggled in his own way with the suspicion within the community.

Rodney Stafford, Tori’s and Daryn’s father was less familiar to the community.  According to Tara, Rodney was an absentee father, frequently missing set visits with the children. The rumours throughout the community seem to echo a similar sentiment, however Rodney was not talking- neither confirming nor denying the rumours.

And finally there was Daryn, Tori’s older brother. The media and talk in the city has never disputed the fact that Tori and her brother were close and loved each other very much. They squabbled from time to time as all siblings do, but they always made up. Daryn always walked his sister home from school, save that fateful day.

The community now knew that Tori was a normal kid, just like yours, just like mine.  We knew too that her parents were working through their issues and that Tori and her brother were not living with either parent but with their maternal grandparent.

We were now into day five and there is nothing for the public to begin to come to terms with.  Where was she, who was feeding her, was she alive?  She had just disappeared and no one seemed to be able to do anything.  The police were not giving the public the kind of information they needed.

Tori and her brother Daryn were close to inseparable. He used to walk her to school and pick her up after class. On that fateful day in 2009 - he didn't pick her up.

Sometimes it`s easier when we can point to something to explain this type of tragedy, maybe the child had run away or is high on drugs and hiding. But Tori did nothing, nothing but be a normal 8 year old.  Woodstock would have to deal with its grief and wait sometime for closure to come to the city.

Meanwhile the suspicions were mounting and the spotlight kept coming back to the parents – but no one could figure out who the woman in the white puffy jacket is and what role this played in the abduction.

It was going to get even more confusing.

Part 3 of a multi-part series.

Click on the link for part 2

Click on this link for part 1


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Woodstock slept without knowing where the missing eight year old was. We hoped against hope she would be found by morning

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.


By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK, Ontario   April 26, 2012    Day two.  Woodstock slept while the Oxford Community Police Services (OCPS) worked on a lead. In typical TV detective style, they retraced Tori’s steps attempting to pin-point the spot from which she was taken. Figuring out the approximate direction and timing of Tori’s movements, police began looking for a witness.

All the community had was a grainy picture of a woman in a white puffy coat with a little girl walking along beside her.

After questioning several people who had been in the area that day, police came across video footage  captured from a security camera located at College Avenue Secondary School, a local high school a mere 200 yards away from Tori’s own school, Oliver Stephens. Examination of the grainy video showed Tori walking home from school at 3:32pm,  – she was not alone. Walking with Tori was a young woman, approximately 5’1”- 5’2” tall, weighing 120-125lbs with straight long dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. The woman was wearing a puffy white jacket and dark pants.

Tori did not appear in distress, nor did it appear she was being forced into going with this woman. OCPS didn’t know what they were looking at. Was this a friend? Was this someone who merely fell in step with an child and had a one-time conversation? Or was this Tori’s abductor? Rodney Stafford and Tara McDonald, Tori’s parents were brought in to view the hazy footage.  Both of them left the station declaring they did not recognize the woman. In the hopes of getting the woman in the video to come forward police took to calling her a “person of interest” rather than a suspect.

The details spilled over the radio as I was getting ready for work. Twelve hours after Tori’s disappearance there was finally a real lead. But a woman- that I did not expect! When I learned of Tori’s disappearance I had subconsciously assumed she had been taken by a man. Did this woman take Tori? Why would a woman take an 8 year old little girl? And most importantly, who was this woman?


Police posters went up throughout the city. Volunteers took part in searches.

On April 10th, two days after Tori went missing, OCPS began conducting ground searches in the city with the aid of volunteers from the community. They searched through backyards and park areas, any spot a child could possibly be hiding. Volunteers were sent door to door asking to check backyards, dog runs, garages- no stone was left unturned. K-9 units, helicopters, trained Search & Rescue were all brought in. I still have vivid memories of the helicopters hovering low over the city.

On day two of the search, Woodstock Mayor Michael Harding announced that police departments from other communities had offered to help look for Tori. By now though, things were taking a more ominous tone. The searches so far had yielded no new information on Tori’s whereabouts and people were really starting to worry. Fears that we might not find Tori alive or at all began to creep into people’s thoughts. Parents began to actively wonder if a predator was on the loose and children found themselves facing tighter restrictions on their whereabouts.

With the assistance of the other communities, leads began to pour in. No matter how small, each one was diligently followed up. But even with all this effort and thousands of kilometres searched there was still no sign of Tori, or any clues to where she was or what had happened to her.

With no answers forthcoming, people in Woodstock began building and grasping at theories to explain away what had happened to Tori. And it didn’t take long for the rumour to surface that the woman in the video was possibly Tori’s own mother Tara McDonald. A really good look at that video footage clearly showed that the woman in the video was shorter and thinner than Tara but that did little to quash the rumours.

Woodstock was obsessed with anything about Tori and what could have happened to her.   Whispering about both parents became the emerging trend amongst Woodstonians, and came to a head when Rodney and Tara were subjected to polygraph tests April 12,  4 days after Tori’s disappearance.   When police declined to comment on the results of the polygraph, citizens’ tongues really began to wag and the rumour mill was out of control.

Later that evening, 1000 residents of Woodstock gathered in the IGA parking lot located in the centre of town, along with Tori’s family and held a candlelight vigil. The family thanked the citizens of Woodstock for their support and help in trying to find Tori.

It was now Day 5.  She was only eight years old and my home town was terrified.

Part 2 of a multi-part series.

Click on the link for part 1




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They are persistent and once they get their hooks into you – it`s like trying to get a fish hook out of your finger: messy and painful.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 27, 2012  One of the things about crooks and thieves is that when they come across a good idea that pulls in all kinds of suckers, they use it over and over and over.  They will quit only when people stop responding to the scam.

With cyber-crime there is little risk – the people doing much of this cyber identity theft are on the other side of the world and while international level police forces are getting better at pursuing and catching them – it is going to be a long time before we see any arrests.  One defence is software we can use to filter them out – but the best defence is checking everything that comes to your screen.

My wife goes over the tape the supermarket cashier gives her – it would never occur to me to look at the take; it`s all bar coded isn’t it – so where could anything go wrong.  Well bar codes aren’t perfect.

The face you think you see - the email address you think you see - may not be coming from the people you think it is coming from. Watch carefully every time.

Earlier this week we alerted you to a scam we came across  – turns out that this good idea has been taken up by others and now Amazon and Twitter are being exploited.

We got the following related to our Twitter account:

Our system detected unusual activity associated with your account.
Your account may be temporarily suspended for violations of the Twitter Rules.
We suspend accounts for investigation if we suspect an account has been hacked or compromised.

You need to confirm your email address to regain access to your account.
Once you regain access, you will be able to request a new password for your Twitter account.

You can find information on following automations and permitted following behaviors on the help page:

The email address this message came from was

Twitter <

Take a careful look at that address – notice they have spelled Twitter as twitler – and that my friends is not the same.

Also the use of English is awkward and that is always a tell tale sign.

We have a Twitter account – we don`t use it very much – so undue activity was the first clue,  but had we been using the Twitter account heavily we just may have responded.  With the cyber crooks out there ready to do anything they can to steal your identity, you do need to be vigilant.

The same day we got a notice about our Amazon account.  We have in the past bought items from Amazon but recently we have supported the local bookstore – A Different Drummer – so we know the Amazon notice was a fake as well.  Here is what we got from them:

We received a request to reset the password associated with this e-mail address. Please follow the instructions below.

Click the link below to complete or cancel request using our secure server:

If clicking the link doesn’t seem to work, you can copy and paste the link into your browser’s address window, or retype it there. will never e-mail you and ask you to disclose or verify your password, credit card, or banking account number. Thanks for visiting!

Sounds pretty legitimate.  But take a careful look at the way amazon is spelled in the domain name part of the email address they used.

See the double m.

I don’t think that is Amazon trying to tell me something.  I think those guys are crooks trying to get information from me.

What do you think?



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It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone. It had happened in Woodstock and we were stunned.

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK, ON   April 27, 2012  It started as just another day on that fateful April 8, 2009. It was so much like every other day I don’t even remember how it began. It was a Wednesday, so I would have dropped my then 8year old off at school and then headed into the office. My day would have passed along , predictably and without incident- or at least I assume so. Even if something exciting had happened that day, it was long forgotten; overshadowed by the events that transpired that night.

All we had was a picture of a cute kid who we knew nothing about other than that she was missing. It just got worse and worse.

To this day, I can’t remember how I learned of the disappearance of Tori Stafford. I know a good friend had sent me an email about the missing girl, but I can’t remember if it was before or after the news bite I heard on the radio during my drive home that night. Either way, it instantly had my attention.  I was born and raised in Woodstock and have strong ties to the community through family and friends.   No matter where you go, you always know where home is.

Now I know what you are thinking. Children are taken every day, why the anxiety over this particular child? You have to understand that this kind of thing doesn’t happen in Woodstock.  And when it does, the entire city will be talking about it; they move into a collective state of shock and then the fear begins to take over.

I called a few friends that night. Coming from a small city I knew there was a very good chance that someone close to me knew the family of the little girl. It only took a couple of calls to learn the disturbing details. A little girl, about my daughter’s age, disappeared while walking home from school that day.  She went missing earlier in the day and there was a delay in reporting it to police, although no one could explain why. And the police weren’t saying much at all.

This is when the questions began about the Amber Alert. It was a recurring theme throughout the various conversations that night. Why hadn’t the Oxford Community Police Services (OCPS) issued one? They had a missing child on their hands and it only seemed prudent to get this information out as far and as fast as they could. What was holding them back? Was there something they weren’t telling us? With no communication from police on what was happening, we, the community were left in the dark.

At the end of the day Tori was still very fresh on my mind. I tried to be positive, but let’s face it; no one takes kids off the street to feed them ice cream and tuck them into a warm bed. The grim reality is that children are snatched for sinister reasons and that pervading fear would not leave my head that night. I didn’t want to think negatively but my heart was heavy with the knowledge of what had happened to other children who were taken. The sad part is, at this point, I was actually hoping one of her parents had taken her. I thought it gave her the best chance for survival.

Before heading to bed that night I looked in on my daughter.  As I watched her sleep from the bedroom doorway, my mind flashed back to when she was 6 years old and she disappeared one morning before school.  I’ll spare you all the details but to give you an idea, the police were called and the neighbours started looking for her.  She was found safe and sound 25 minutes later.

It was hands down, the most horrible experience of my entire life. And she had only been missing for 25 horrible minutes! At this point Tori had been gone almost 10 hours. I could suddenly feel the same overwhelming tightness in my chest that I had felt for my daughter when I didn`t know where she was.  I couldn’t imagine how her parents were coping. I had the solace of knowing my daughter was safe. They had no such reassurance.

That is the point where Tori and my daughter became tied together in my mind. The two of them shared so much in common: they were the same age, from the same city and had at one point lived within walking distance of each other. These two would have easily been fast friends.

Part 1 of a multi-part series.


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Thieves think they have their Modus Operandi down cold – they target ATM machines in out of the way locations. Do you know these guys?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  April 25, 2012   On a Saturday evening last April 14th at 9:15 p.m. two suspects broke into the Harvester Medical Centre, located at 3155 Harvester Road, Burlington.  The suspects are believed to have entered through the west doors of the building.   Once inside the suspects broke open an ATM and stole the cash contents.

The suspects are believed to be responsible for at least three other Burlington commercial entries dating back to November, 2011. ATMs are always targeted.

Suspect #1 – male, white, 6’2” 225 – 240 lbs.

Suspect #2 – male, white, 5’8, 180 lbs. Carrying a black backpack.

Both suspects were dressed entirely in black clothing, with gloves and balaclavas.  Police are appealing to the public for information on any suspicious vehicles or persons observed near the site of the incident on the date and time mentioned.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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Be very, very careful about this one. Major attempt at identity theft via a Facebook message

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON    April 25, 2012  The email message started out nicely enough. Hello, it said.  And it was from The Facebook Team.  Given that I`m a Facebook user – I read the message.

Here`s what it said:

The Facebook account associated with was recently changed.

If you were not the one who changed this account, please visit our Help Center to cancel the request.

Please note: for your protection, this email has been sent to all the email addresses associated with your Facebook account.


The Facebook Team

Cyber thieves can collect bits and pieces of information about you and create an online identity that says it's you but isn't you - and they can do a lot of damage. Be vigilant.

Hmm, I wondered – I didn’t change my Facebook password.  Then I looked at who the email actually came from.  Pay close attention to the line that follows.

That is who supposedly sent me the message.  Check the spelling  – notice it says

The message didn’t come from Facebook at all – it came from somebody who got their hands on a list of email addresses and sent the same email to millions of people.  Those that responded will have been pulled into a process that begins gathering information on them – and when they get enough they can begin to impersonate you.  Imagine if someone got into your Facebook page and started rummaging around there.

If you get the message – ignore it.  And pass this story along to every friend you have.

These crooks are going to do a lot of damage with this identity theft attempt.


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