‘Send her back’
Seeking justice for Tori Stafford the message is clear: ‘send her back’
Hundreds gathered in front of the Ontario Court of Justice on Saturday chanting “send her back” and “justice for Tori” with the hope the federal government will undo its mistake and transfer convicted murderer Terri-Lynne McClintic from an Indigenous healing lodge back to a maximum-security prison.
The rally in Woodstock was the second in as many days for Rodney Stafford, the father of eight-year-old Tori Stafford, who McClintic murdered nearly 10 years ago, and several other supporters who returned to Oxford following Friday’s rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Recalling when he held his daughter in his arms after she was first born on July 15, 2000, Stafford told Tori he would protect her until the day that he died.
“You can’t understand the pain and the hurt that goes through you when you realize that one of your bear cubs has been taken, one of your children is gone. It’s tough to deal with every day,” he told the crowd of more than 200, most of whom were wearing purple – Tori’s favourite colour.
On the inside, the pain his killing him, Stafford said, but thanks to the community’s support, he said he has the strength to fight for the justice his daughter deserves.
“Each time I walk past one of you guys, and you guys give me support, that gives me that much more strength to stand here and do what I want to do, and that’s stand up for my daughter,” said Stafford.
In 2010, McClintic pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, though the full evidence of her violent character surfaced only during the 2011 murder trial of Michael Rafferty, with whom she assaulted and killed Tori.
At Rafferty’s trial, the jury heard evidence about McClintic’s violent fantasies and desire to kill, maim and torture others. In 2012, McClintic pleaded guilty to assaulting a fellow inmate and, in a letter to a friend intercepted by correctional officers, McClintic described the assault, saying if she’d had more space she would have done more damage.
Earlier this fall, The London Free Press revealed McClintic had been transferred to the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Saskatchewan, a facility primarily for Indigenous female offenders, which offers more independent living and nicer quarters than a prison.
“Terri-Lynne’s got to go back to max security where she belongs,” said Stafford “My little girl, Victoria, deserves so much better and she deserves justice.”
Standing on the steps where justice was originally delivered to McClintic, Woodstock Mayor Trevor Birtch called the recent transfer “unacceptable.”
“Because of a decision by Corrections Canada, justice is no longer being served,” said Birtch, who encouraged the community to speak out to the parliamentarians who have been refusing to deal with the issue.
“Send emails, phone their offices, contact (Public Safety) Minister Goodale. Tell him, encourage him to encourage his ministry and his colleagues to make the right decision so that justice can be upheld,” said Birtch.
On Thursday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said a review into the decision to move McClintic from federal prison to the healing lodge will be coming soon.
Other speakers at the rally included Oxford MP Dave McKenzie, Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman, and Coun. Sandra Talbot, who recently introduced a city council motion voicing the community’s disgust over the transfer of McClintic to the healing lodge that was approved unanimously. She plans to share the motion with other municipalities in Ontario and across Canada.
Rodney Stafford, father of Tori Stafford, says his daughter's killer needs to be back in maximum-security prison where she belongs.
More than 200 protesters spoke out against the transfer of convicted murderer Terri-Lynne McClintic to a healing lodge on Saturday at the Ontario Court of Justice in Woodstock with chants of “send her back” and “justice for Tori.”