‘Send her back’

Seek­ing jus­tice for Tori Stafford the mes­sage is clear: ‘send her back’

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS FUNSTON

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.

CHRIS FUNSTON/SENTINEL-RE­VIEW

Rod­ney Stafford, fa­ther of Tori Stafford, says his daugh­ter's killer needs to be back in max­i­mum-se­cu­rity prison where she be­longs.

CHRIS FUNSTON/SENTINEL-RE­VIEW

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.”

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