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CAS Graduate

March 14, 2012 permalink

On April 8 2009 Terri-Lynne McClintic and boyfriend Michael Rafferty abducted eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford on her way home from school in Woodstock Ontario. According to Terri-Lynne's own testimony, Michael waited in the car while Terri-Lynne enticed the girl with talk of dogs or candy. Later that day Tori was killed by a hammer blow to the head administered by Terri-Lynne.

What does it take to educate a woman like Terri-Lynne McClintic? She was adopted at an early age and spent her childhood between her adoptive parents and foster care in Parry Sound. The news article below gives a journalist's profile.



Terri-Lynne McClintic: A lost soul who 'didn't stand a chance' in life

Terri-Lynne McClintic
Terri-Lynn McClintic Facebook photo, camera-dated Aug. 4, 2008.
Photograph by: Handout , Facebook

WOODSTOCK, Ont. — Terri-Lynne McClintic was an angry young woman with no job, no real aspirations and not much to lose.

Yet residents who knew her in this small, southwestern Ontario city still can't fathom why — on April 8, 2009 — she lured eight-year-old Tori Stafford away from her school and to her death, in what has become one of Canada's most notorious child-abduction cases.

Some suggest McClintic, 20, lost her way years ago due to a turbulent upbringing from an ex-stripper mom. Others suggest she fell under the spell of a manipulative boyfriend.

According to court documents outlining her guilty plea and life sentence — developments that had been the subject of a publication ban until now — even McClintic can't seem to explain what was going through her mind.

"Every day I ask myself why. Why did I tell myself that everything would be okay? Just why?" she told the court on April 30 at her sentencing. "I can't explain my thought process on that day."

Because a trial is still pending for her ex-boyfriend, Michael Rafferty, who is also charged in the slaying, not all details of McClintic's case can be reported, which only deepens the mystery.

McClintic was, however, contrite and offered no excuses for her involvement in the killing.

"Yes, I was under the influence of drugs and yes, there are things I've experienced in the past that may have affected my reactions to the situation I was in, but regardless of those reasons, it doesn't make what happened acceptable," she said. "Every time I close my eyes, I'm flooded with the memories of that day. I will never forget what happened, the mistakes I made, the failure I was."

McClintic carved out a hardscrabble life in a dingy blue- and white-trimmed row house located near a set of railroad tracks and kitty-corner to a tattoo parlour.

She shared the home with her adoptive mother, Carol McClintic.

The pair got by on her mother's disability cheques and food vouchers from the red-brick church down the street. Carol McClintic also made quick cash by pawning jewelry and other items at downtown stores.

Their home was crammed with stuff; you couldn't walk through it without stepping on something, said ex-neighbour Craig Racine, 32. Mother and daughter shared a mattress on the floor, he said.

Terri-Lynne McClintic's personality required a bit of getting used to.

At times, she was chipper. Other times, she turned into a "gangster," Racine said.

McClintic struggled to find stability in her life.

She once got hired for a job at Toyota but quit after three days, said Kayla Hurst, 22, who shopped and went on walks with McClintic.

Hurst said McClintic had also sought drug-addiction treatment at the local methadone clinic but dropped out two weeks later.

One of McClintic's few passions was hip-hop, but it was the "sadistic" variety, Hurst said.

McClintic wrote lyrics in her journal and, at times, she would read them out loud, but Hurst said she would tune her out because the lyrics were just too raw.

"Terri may have looked happy on the outside, but when we talked I know it was a coverup," she said. "She was not and has not been happy for a long time."

Some say McClintic's anger was fuelled, in part, by the hot-and-cold relationship she had with her mother.

At times, they seemed like best friends. But there were times when her mom would belittle her, Racine said.

McClintic never talked back, and just kept the hurt bottled up inside.

McClintic's adoptive parents, Rob and Carol McClintic, met while working at a strip club in downtown Woodstock. She was a stripper and he was a doorman. The courtship didn't last long before they married, Rob McClintic recalled.

"I was young and stupid," he said.

Not long after they married, they adopted Terri-Lynne, who was born to another stripper at the club.

Though Nancy McClintic, Rob's mother, wasn't terribly fond of Carol — particularly the way she talked like a biker around the guys — she thought Carol did a decent job of keeping Terri-Lynne "neat, clean and fed."

Nancy still holds on to a baby photo of a chubby-cheeked Terri-Lynne in a pink, frilly dress. She says Terri-Lynne was a happy baby, though in this photo she is not smiling and her eyes are cast downward.

In those early years, Rob said, Carol aspired to build a family modelled after the 1950s American TV show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

It didn't turn out that way.

Carol started travelling to strip clubs in other parts of the province, leaving Terri-Lynne behind for Rob to take care of alone, he said.

Rob said he and Carol fought constantly and separated when Terri-Lynne was just a toddler. Carol gained full custody.

Terri-Lynne spent a good chunk of her youth being raised in the Parry Sound area, in northern Ontario.

She spent at least some of that time in foster care, said Gail MacDonald, whose daughter was friends with Terri-Lynne in elementary school and early high school.

"She was a little sweetie, always smiling, cute as a button," she recalled.

At the same time, "you could see this little lost kid in there."

Terri-Lynne missed her mother and frequently ran away from her foster home.

Terri-Lynne did find an escape one winter by playing recreational hockey with the Parry Sound Phantoms. She also landed a job at Tim Horton's, which she enjoyed.

But midway through Grade 9, she got in trouble. MacDonald never saw or heard from her again.

"Honest to God," MacDonald says looking back, "she didn't stand a chance."

Terri-Lynne McClintic reunited with her mother in Woodstock about three years ago, but the instability continued.

Her mother was engaged to be married, but the relationship fell apart.

A few months before the abduction and killing of Tori Stafford, McClintic started dating Mike Rafferty, who was 10 years older than she was. According to a profile he posted online, he was a "hopeless romantic."

How McClintic and Rafferty wound up connected to the murder of an eight-year-old girl remains a mystery.

Wendy Oldham, a friend of McClintic's mother, is convinced that McClintic was manipulated by her boyfriend.

But Hurst said McClintic would not let a man "push her around, nor tell her what to do."

"I am not really able to say what made her do something this sick and sad."

According to court documents, the day of the abduction started ordinarily enough for McClintic. She went and picked up food vouchers at the church and then went to get groceries. Later, she swung by an employment centre to drop off a resume and to use the computers.

There had also been a "pick up" of OxyContin pills that day.

Then, later that afternoon, it happened.

McClintic approached a blond, eight-year-old girl walking home from school and introduced herself as "T." The young girl, wearing a Hannah Montana T-shirt, said her name was Victoria but that everyone called her Tori. As they walked, they chatted about their Shih Tzu dogs.

That same day, Tori was taken to a remote location north of Guelph where she was murdered and buried underneath a rock pile.

The next day, police released grainy surveillance video showing a dark-haired woman in a puffy white coat walking down the street with Tori.

Craig Racine and another of McClintic's neighbours, Jessica McDonald, became suspicious when — out of the blue — McClintic volunteered that the woman in the video sort of looked like her.

McClintic had also cut her hair, telling them that it was because bubble gum had got caught in it.

The neighbours turned into amateur sleuths, trying to find excuses to go over to the McClintics' house to snoop around.

One day, Racine went over to use their laundry machine. Police canvassing the neighbourhood knocked on the door, sending Terri-Lynne fleeing to the bathroom. She refused to come out.

Turns out police had received tips suggesting Terri-Lynne was the woman in the video, according to court documents. Four days after the abduction, police returned to the house and arrested her on an unrelated warrant for a minor offence.

While in custody, she initially scoffed at the suggestion she was the woman in the video, but later confessed.

"Enough people have been hurt as a result of this and I refuse to drag anyone through the proceedings of a trial," she said at her sentencing. "Spending the next few decades of life in prison is nothing compared to what Tori was robbed of."

Carol McClintic has since moved out of the row house she shared with her daughter. She's spent the past year staying in spare rooms at friends' homes and at local motels — either until her money has run out or she's overstayed her welcome.

Several locals said she's been harassed because of her association with her daughter.

At the Mariner Motel on the edge of town, where she stayed as recently as the end of May, she continued to proclaim her daughter's innocence, resident Todd Maltby said.

Carol McClintic, in a series of brief emails — all sent between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. and riddled with awkward punctuation — said she had moved away from the Woodstock area and had been "treated like shit" over the past year.

"my day will come . . . .. And I want to write a full article and have it published word for word; And I will Sell it to the highest bidder," she wrote.

"When this is over I TOO will speak LOUD and CLEAR . . . .. AND ALL THE TRUTH WILL BE TOLD."

Source: Vancouver Sun