London Community News
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By Raveena Aulakh/Torstar News Service
London, Ontario — In the days leading to his arrest, Michael Rafferty was a very busy man: he was dating multiple women simultaneously, shopping in London and in Michigan; he was also trawling around auto wreckers and getting his BlackBerry cellphone replaced.
In fact, on May 19, 2009, the day he was arrested and charged with the abduction, rape and murder of Tori Stafford, Rafferty was at a mall in London buying clothes and shoes for a Woodstock woman.
Joy Woods, whom he had been dating since early April, told the jury Tuesday that Rafferty called her at least four times that day, checking her dress and shoe size.
“I was never comfortable with that, but he always wanted to buy stuff for me, for the kids,” said Woods, a lanky woman with straight blond hair.
Woods said she was leaving for Las Vegas on May 20 and Rafferty wanted her to take the clothes with her and so asked her to meet him at the parking lot of Goodlife Fitness gym. She arrived first, and when he got there, he put some shopping bags on the floor on the passenger side and slid in.
That’s when an officer tapped on the window and asked if he was Michael Rafferty. Rafferty was arrested.
Tori, 8, was abducted in Woodstock on April 8, 2009. Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic, then lovers, were arrested a month later and charged with abduction and murder. The little girl’s body was found on July 19 near Mount Forest. McClintic pleaded guilty and received a life sentence in April 2010.
The trial for Rafferty, who has pleaded not guilty, started March 5.
On Tuesday, Woods also told the jury that Rafferty called her May 16, one day after investigators first questioned him about Tori’s disappearance. He was very upset and concerned, Woods recalled. She told him that if he had nothing to do with Tori’s disappearance, he should not worry.
Woods, a mother of three, and Rafferty first met online on April 11 on the dating website Plenty of Fish, and face-to-face on April 16. Rafferty told her he was a construction contractor and a dance instructor. The two went out for dinner to London on many occasions and once even to Oakville, she said.
They once took a shopping trip to Michigan, where, Woods said, Rafferty searched adamantly and fruitlessly for a particular type of Puma shoes.
Other facets of Rafferty’s life during that time came to light through the work of investigators.
OPP Const. James Brady told the court that Rafferty first visited a Bell store at Masonville Place mall in London on May 14, 2009, complaining that his BlackBerry Curve phone wasn’t working well. He returned on May 19 to pick up a loaner, a few hours before his arrest.
Bell sent the BlackBerry to RIM in Waterloo. No problem was detected in it. Later, it was sent to the e-crimes unit of the OPP in Orillia. No data was recovered, Brady said.
Rafferty, whose phone bills show he used his BlackBerry often, made two calls to Corey’s Auto Wreckers in London, where sign-in sheets showed he spent an hour on May 11. The calls were of interest to investigators “because we were all aware that the accused car was missing (a car) seat,” Brady said. But there was nothing to indicate that Rafferty bought anything. After numerous checks, it doesn’t appear that Rafferty had visited any other auto wreckers.
The trial, now in its seventh week, has gone through twists and turns: McClintic initially told investigators that she lured Tori at Rafferty’s urging, and that he then raped and killed the girl. She later changed her statement and said she killed Tori with a hammer. She has, however, maintained that Tori was violently raped by Rafferty, once in the front seat of the car, once in the rear.
The Crown is expected to rest its case in the next few days.
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