Globe and Mail update
April 17, 2009 at 10:14 PM EDT
Ontario Provincial Police will start a second search for missing Woodstock girl Victoria (Tori) Stafford on Saturday, scouring both land and area waterways for clues.
In an announcement late Friday evening, Ontario Provincial Police – who earlier in the day took the reins of the investigation from the smaller Oxford Community Police force – announced they'd start a new search. Tori's missing person case was officially declared an abduction earlier in the day.
The girl has been missing since April 8. The most notable piece of evidence released so far is security camera footage of Tori walking away from her school with an unidentified woman in a white jacket.
In the new “intensified search,” OPP will both retrace the steps taken earlier by searchers and bring in an Under Water Search and Recovery Unit, which will be “scouring all local waterways looking for clues.”
Police go in one direction, missing girl's mother feels otherwise
The OPP will also go door-to-door in the tiny community, which has held numerous rallies of support for Tori's family. Police will be asking new questions about evidence they've already collected.
The announcement is another potential sign of progress in the case, and comes after OPP Detective Inspector Bill Renton stumbled at an earlier news conference when asked if they'd identified the woman in the white jacket. After a long pause, he said officers have a “pretty substantial direction” in figuring out who she is.
But Det.-Insp. Renton cautioned late Friday night the re-canvassing is a “normal procedure to ensure that we don't miss out on any pieces of evidence that will lead us closer to Victoria's whereabouts.” Local police chief Ron Fraser asked Woodstock residents to be patient as OPP investigators descend on their community.
“Police remind all citizens that though there may be a heightened sense of curiosity into some of the police activity, police need their space in order to protect the integrity of the investigation,” OPP said in a release.
The new search will last at least seven days, police say.