Tori Stafford

The further I get from these things, the more a hate playing amateur sleuth. It disturbs me. And some things I’ve seen have changed me.

Still, from this it appears they removed the entire back seat of the car and dumped it along with the body in a farmer’s field. Just horrifying:

Police continue grim searches for Tori Stafford, 8, and 1970 Kirkland Lake victim Kathy Wilson, 12
May 25, 2009 04:30 AM
NICOLAAS VAN RIJN
STAFF REPORTER

Two little girls, both missing, both dead.

And today, as Ontario Provincial Police continue to search a vast swath of southwestern Ontario for the body of 8-year-old Tori Stafford, who has not seen since she was abducted outside her Woodstock school on April 8, OPP officers in Kirkland Lake are ramping up the search for 12-year-old Kathy Wilson, last seen riding in a cousin’s truck on the outskirts of town in October 1970.

Investigators have no doubt what they’ll find when they finally reach the end of their quests, whether it takes them 39 years, as in the Wilson case, or however long it will take to search for Tori.

Two little bodies.

Kathy Wilson’s killer has already confessed; two suspects in Tori’s disappearance are in custody and police hold out no hope she’ll be found alive.

“I think it’s the nature (of people to hope for) one possible little miracle,” OPP Const. Laurie-Anne Maitland said yesterday, referring to the search for Tori.

“But in this tragic case,” she added, “it’s not (possible).”

Police investigating Tori’s death have charged Woodstock resident Michael Rafferty, 28, with first-degree murder and abduction and Terri-Lynne McClintic, 18, also of Woodstock, is charged with abduction and being an accessory.

McClintic accompanied investigators in an OPP helicopter on several occasions last week as they flew over fields and streams near Guelph, but so far there’s been no sign of Tori’s body.

Yesterday, OPP appealed to area residents to check their properties for the grey, cloth-coloured back seat that is missing from Rafferty’s 2003 Honda four-door car, blue with black spray paint over portions of the vehicle. Police have the car, but are looking for the back seat in an effort to recover evidence.

If the seat is located, police investigators stress “that it not be touched,” and are requesting that it be reported immediately. They’re also asking anyone who finds it to try, without making physical contact with the seat, “to protect it from the elements until investigators can attend the scene.”

Late last week police asked anyone living within a 50-minute drive of Guelph to check their property for anything suspicious.

Investigators have so far remained mum about any tips they may so far have received.

The area being searched for Kathy Wilson’s body is far smaller than the 2,660 square kilometres of southwestern Ontario farmland – all of it less than an hour’s drive from Guelph – that may hold Tori’s current resting place.

Barry Vincent Manion, convicted earlier this year in the Kirkland Lake girl’s death so long ago, told investigators where to find her body. That search resumes in earnest today, kicked off with a police news conference that will include a look at the area being searched.

Helping in the search near Kirkland Lake – OPP expect it to take about two weeks – will be a number of forensic anthropology students from the University of Toronto and Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo.

Kathy Wilson was on her way home from a trip to the grocery store and post office when she disappeared. Her sisters remembered seeing her in a cousin’s truck that day 39 years ago, and have long recalled the terrified look on her face.

Earlier this year, police arrested Manion, the cousin, then living in London.

He was 61 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in March and was sentenced to life in prison; he was found hanged in his cell a few days later.

But before he died, Manion led police to the area where he said he had strangled the girl and admitted he’d been abusing her for the year preceding the killing.

He told detectives he had picked the girl up in his truck, then drove to a quiet area where he fondled her and asked her to perform a sex act. When she refused and ran away, he chased her into a wooded area and choked the life from her. Then he buried her and her groceries.

Police said they had to wait for spring thaw to begin the hunt for Wilson’s remains. Over the weekend, OPP investigators began searching a wooded area in Morrisette Township, just north of Kirkland Lake.

Investigators in the Kirkland Lake search plan a news conference today.

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