Monday, April 20, 2009

OPP search landfill

SALFORD — An OPP search team combed through piles of garbage at the Oxford County Landfill Monday as the investigation into the abduction of Victoria “Tori” Stafford entered its 13th day.

The team of roughly 20 Emergency Response Team officers sifted through garbage that had been collected from Woodstock since the night of Tori’s disappearance, looking for any evidence that could be connected to the abduction of the missing eight-year-old. Because of the rainy weather, OPP officers suspended their search in the early afternoon but should return to the landfill early this morning.

“There has been no information to suggest there is evidence in regard to this case at this location but, as part of due diligence, sections are being searched,” Oxford Community Police Service spokesperson Laurie-Anne Maitland indicated in a media release.

Police investigators contacted county officials Sunday about their plans to search the Salford-area dump. Clad in Tyvek protective suits, the officers began looking through the mounds of garbage at approximately 7:30 a.m., landfill supervisor Dave Vanmeeren said.

“It’s not the first time (a search) has happened here, but this is the most intensive that we’ve seen,” he said.

Despite the renewed intensity of the search, investigators had no new public information about Tori’s abduction. Even with the OPP assuming management of this joint investigation, the search for Tori does remain largely focused on the Woodstock area. On Monday, OCPS officers continued to canvass city neighbourhoods as part of the ongoing search. The OPP’s underwater search and recovery unit also continued to search the city’s waterways, focusing much of Monday’s efforts to Pittock Reservoir.

Tara McDonald, Tori’s mother, said investigators were “doing the best they can” to find her missing daughter.

“They’re looking everywhere they possibly can,” she said.

Tori was last seen on April 8 walking with an unidentified woman north along Fyfe Avenue shortly after leaving Oliver Stephens Public School at approximately 3:30 p.m. Video footage obtained from a high school security camera indicates the unidentified woman, who was wearing a white coat and tight black pants, is between 19 and 25 years old. The mystery woman, who investigators consider a crucial “person of interest,” is estimated to be roughly five foot two inches tall (157 centimetres) and 125 pounds (56 kilograms).

At the time of her abduction, Tori was wearing a green shirt, a denim skirt, black and white shoes, and a black Hannah Montana jacket with a white fur-lined hood. She may have been carrying a purple and pink Bratz shoulder bag. Tori is four foot five inches (134 centimetres) tall and weighs 62 pounds (28 kilograms). She has blue eyes and blonde hair cut just below her ears.

Anyone with information about Tori’s abduction is asked to contact the OCPS at (519) 537-2323 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.