Friday, April 24, 2009

Family torn on fundraising

Fri, April 24, 2009
THE ABDUCTION OF TORI STAFFORD: News of door-to-door efforts has raised concerns some may be taking advantage of the abduction for personal gain

Cracks are beginning to open between the two families of missing eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford over fundraising efforts in the little girl's name.

The father's side of the family pleaded with the public yesterday to stop raising or donating money and focus on the search for the girl, last seen April 8 after school.

"The only thing we want people to be spending is their time and effort," said Rebecca Stafford, Tori's aunt.

The Stafford family has been horrified to learn people are going door to door with jars plastered with Tori's picture, she said.

"We are afraid people are taking advantage of this for their own personal gain."

The family had earlier supported a trust fund set up to help Tori and her brother Daryn get counselling.

But Tori's grandmother's employer, Cami Automotive Inc., has agreed to pay for counselling, Stafford said.

Stafford also expressed concerns about a second fund created this week to help the mother's side of the family pay for phone bills and lost wages.

"I don't know what to say to that other than . . . with public money here comes a great deal of responsibility."

Tori's parents are divorced but have until now presented a unified face over the search for their daughter.

Tori's mother, Tara McDonald, dealt with questions about fundraising at an earlier news conference yesterday.

"I don't have a clue how much has been raised. I don't take care of that. It goes into a trust fund for Daryn and Victoria."

McDonald also dealt yesterday with questions about a composite sketch released by police two days ago.

The sketch is of the woman seen in a surveillance video walking with Tori at 3:23 p.m. after school April 8, based on someone who saw her in person.

Tori's father, Rodney Stafford, thinks the woman looks like a former high school classmate but McDonald does not recognize the woman.

McDonald explained yesterday she and Rodney went to different high schools.

At least one other Stafford family member agrees with Rodney, but others have different beliefs, Rebecca Stafford said yesterday.

Tori knows all the people the family suspects, Stafford said.

Police yesterday would not comment on the tips received from the composite sketch.

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