Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 12 2009

Candlelight vigil tonight for missing girl



Tiffany Ackers hands out a poster for missing Victoria "Tori" Stafford, 8, on a street corner in Woodstock, Ont. on Friday April 10, 2009.



Mystery deepens in case of missing girl
Rodney Stafford has seen the blurry, minute-long surveillance video more than a thousand times but, for the life of him, says he cannot recognize the woman walking off with his 8-year-old daughter, Victoria.
Apr 12, 2009
WOODSTOCK–The desperate search for a missing eight-year-old girl continues in Woodstock today, four days after she mysteriously disappeared with a woman police call a "person of interest."

Police have received more than 230 tips from the public and have scoured numerous lakes, ponds, wooded areas, brushes and properties in the search for Victoria (Tori) Stafford.

The Grade 3 student was last seen leaving her school in Woodstock, east of London, and fuzzy surveillance video shows her walking without a struggle with an unidentified woman.

Search efforts by dozens of officers are still being confined to the city of Woodstock and nearby parks, said Oxford Community Police Const. Laurie-Anne Maitland.

Victoria's father Rodney has made emotional public appeals for the safe return of his daughter and the family has also pledged a reward for information leading to her recovery.

"It's killing me," Stafford said Saturday. "(I want to) let her know that I love her and I'll see her soon. One way or another I'll see her soon."

Stafford and Victoria's mother, Tara McDonald, separated in December and he called the relationship "an ongoing struggle."

"I've had a lot of problems come up in my life and stuff like that, and I haven't always been there for my kids, but this is my baby girl and it's absolutely hurting now," Stafford said.

He insisted that he doesn't believe any of Victoria's relatives are behind her disappearance.

But police say they aren't ruling out that possibility based on the limited evidence they have so far.

"I think everyone ... who knows this child and has contact with this child will be part of the investigation," Maitland said Sunday.

"I don't know that anyone's been ruled out."

Stafford described his daughter as a smart, one-of-a-kind, bubbly girl who loved to spend time with her family and friends.

He said his 10-year-old son Daryn is having a difficult time because he and his sister are "two peas in a pod."

The community is planning a candlelight vigil for Sunday night but family friend Catherine Leary said she hopes Victoria is found before then.

"We're hoping ... everyone will come and show their support for the family," she said.

"We're really hoping it will end up as a celebration, we're just trying to do the best we can right now."

Woodstock Mayor Michael Harding said the vigil will help the community collectively express its hopes and wishes "at this time of crisis."

"Our community has a great big heart and it wants to share those feelings and send that kind of message out to the family and particularly to this little girl," he said.

Victoria's family has offered a $10,000 reward for her safe return and an independent Quebec businessman has also come forward with his own $5,000 reward for information.