Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lost child. Lost innocence.

I first wrote about Tori Stafford here, soon after she disappeared after being let out of her Woodstock, Ontario elementary school. Since then, no one knew who abducted the eight-year-old or what her fate would be. All that's changed today.

The news isn't good. A man, Michael Thomas C.S. Rafferty, and Terri-Lynne McClintic, his teenaged girlfriend, have been arrested in connection with her disappearance. Charges include abduction and murder. Reports - currently unconfirmed - are circulating that her body has been found. It's the worst possible outcome for a family and community that held out hope that this little girl would be returned home safely.

I guess the world doesn't work that way.

Over the next few days, weeks and months, we'll doubtless learn more than we ever wanted to know about how a girl on her way home from school ended up in the clutches of a monster. And we'll wonder once again how these monsters are created, and why bad things happen to innocent folks whose only mistake was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I'll be hugging my kids a little more tightly tonight as I say a prayer for a lost innocent and her family. I hope you'll do the same.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps a bigger question is now that we know this monster exists and what he (and possibly she) has done, what is the next step? Harsh punishment?

I have often supported the traditional way of punishment, hoping that we ignore the "human rights" of such a monster, who has committed something as sick and twisted as this. Let's remember he violated every possible human right this young child had, and has also violated her family's right to raise a beautiful daughter etc.

I often have this debate with most people.

"he has human rights"
"he can change"

blah blah blah.

Bottom line, he committed a crime that was despicable, and now that we have modern technologies to pin point EXACTLY who/what/where /when with forensic science, why should we then, allow the public to essentially pay for him to rot in prison? Give him another shot at a life? Does Tori? How about her family?

My vote, harsh punishment. No mercy.

Perhaps if we set a presitent for monsters out there, let them know that there will be consequences for their actions, instead of, let's plead insanity etc, crimes like this would minimize. (vague, broad and hopeful - i know) why can't we just hope for that? At least we know these monsters will get what they deserve, and justice will be served.

Tanya (aka NetChick) said...

I'm horrified at the news... So tragic. :(

Glenn Cressman said...

Lots of commentary about the death penalty. I'm more concerned about the topic of school yard supervision.

Could this have been prevented? Teachers' unions have minimized supervision requirements. In small communities (like Woodstock) this sometimes means only ONE teacher is supervising the ENTIRE yard. What if there were more teachers in the school yard that day? Would one of them have noticed that Tori left with someone that usually doesn't take her home?

This tragic event and the issue of supervision (and other reasons) have motivated me to make sure I ALWAYS drop off and pick up my kids. Unfortunately, not all parents have that luxury.

lissa said...

My heart goes out to those parents, and to those who knew and loved Tory. The longer the search went on, the more dismal the possibilities. And today, hearing this news, it is simply unimaginable.

I think, too, about the parents of so many many children who are still missing and their heartache - is their hope dwindling with this news, or are they gripping the threads? Cedrika Provencher, who disappeared almost 2 years ago, has never been found; this has to be devastating to her family, to know how often the news is not good.

There are no words. Just heartfelt sadness.

Unknown said...

When I first heard the news ... I felt sick. Somehow I knew we lost another innocent one a long time ago, but still the actual news hits hard. How could anyone hurt a little girl like that?
And now ... my little 8 year old boy is asking questions I'm just not capable of answering. He keeps asking why someone would steal other peoples' kids. Why indeed. Rest in Peace Tori.

Laurie said...

There is a big misconception out there about talking to kids about "stranger danger". While the info is good, statistics show that the majority of children who are abducted are not taken by strangers-- but by people they know and/or to whom they are related. If Tori recognized the person who took her, it wouldn't seem out of place to a school yard supervisor. When there are 500 students in a school, even 10 teachers in the yard won't know every parent belonging to every child in the building. The biggest thing people can do is to have a communication system with their children --and a code word for those who are assigned to pick the kids up from school. Even if "Uncle Nick" is an old family friend, if he doesn't have the code word, the kids don't go. Plain and simple. That way, even the children can be discerning when it comes to their own safety. When the stats show that most abductors are known to the children, the safety plan and code word seem to be the only viable option. Regardless, a little girl has lost her life thanks to a sick freak and his sick freak girlfriend.

I sort of wish I believed in Hell today.

NJ said...

Just watched the news coverage. A horrible outcome to the story. Years ago a young woman from my hometown in South Western Ontario disappeared overnight never to be seen again. They never did find her body or what happened to her. Her poor mother who had been recently widowed still to this day doesn't know the truth of what happened. I'm always shocked at how humans can be such monsters.

Glennis said...

Oh, this is terrible. I know you and your community will pull together and comfort one another, but this is a loss that is so very hard to bear.

I can't comment on the justice aspect, not knowing the whole story. Anyone who would harm a child like this, no matter the reason, deserves the harshest penalty. But it's hard to know how other institutions could prevent it without knowing more of the story.

awareness said...

Very shocking, senseless and so so sad....I heard the news on my way home from work and I'm still stunned by it.
So many unanswered questions...but you're right Carmi we're going to hear more about this than we will want to know about.

I will be interested to read Chrisie Blatchford's column tomorrow....she's been very harsh in her interpretation of Tori's Mom's behaviour throughout the whole abduction and search.

Morahmommy said...

My heart goes out to her family. Noah and I heard the news on the way to school. It was with heavy heart I went to work.

After listening to the news, I reminded Noah again on the importance of never going with anyone unless, Mommy, Daddy, or the school office tell him to. "I know Mommy, you don't have to worry!"

I can't help but worry. I can't protect them all the time and there are some scary people out there.

Like Carmi, I hugged them extra tight tonight.

maggie, dammit said...


I will never make sense of the world.

Anonymous said...

I knew, as the search aged, that the outcome was not likely to be a good one. So why do I still feel like someone just punched me in the stomach?

Unknown said...

Carmi: Stories like this were always heartbreaking for me as a reporter. While tough to read, I believe every parent should read "Tears of Rage" by John Walsh. I now appreciate that my parents kept me in sight at al times in public places.