Volunteers join police in search for Ontario girl
Updated: Fri Apr. 10 2009 6:45:42 PM
CTV.ca News Staff
More than 40 police officers aided by hundreds of volunteers are searching for an eight-year-old Woodstock, Ont., girl missing for more than two days.
Victoria (Tori) Stafford was reported missing after she did not return home from Woodstock’s Oliver Stephens Public School on Wednesday afternoon.
Police later obtained surveillance video from a nearby high school that captured footage of a girl matching Tori’s appearance walking with an adult woman on Wednesday afternoon.
Oxford Community police Const. Laurie-Ann Maitland told CTV Newsnet that Tori has now been positively identified as the girl in the video.
“It is, in fact, her,” Maitland said in a phone interview on Friday morning.
Tori is seen walking with the woman in the direction of her home around 3:32 p.m. on Wednesday, Maitland said. There is no sign of force or resistance in the video.
Police want to know who she was walking with, and they say the matter is now a criminal investigation.
“The lady we’re looking to speak with, who is a person of interest, is a white female, 19 to 25 years old, approximately 5’1″ or 5’2″ and between 120 and 125 pounds,” said Maitland.
“She has straight, long black hair, past the shoulders that is worn in a ponytail, and she was wearing tight black jeans and a white puffy winter jacket.”
But police are not using the word abduction in the case.
Tori’s father, Rodney Stafford, called the video of his daughter “disturbing.”
“To actually see Victoria skipping alongside this person, it’s rather obvious that she knows who she’s with,” he said.
Stafford added he hasn’t slept since he found out his daughter was missing.
Maitland said police have put together a timeline of the last day Tori was seen.
The girl’s teachers said Tori attended school without any problems the day she disappeared.
“We don’t have any information after that, but she never did make it home,” Maitland added.
Around 6 p.m. that night, Tori’s parents reported her missing and police immediately began to investigate.
Police started a door-to-door search late Wednesday. They began a ground search at first light Thursday with about 40 officers and canine units.
Tori is about 4’5″, 62 pounds and has blue eyes and short blonde hair.
She was last seen warning a denim skirt, a green shirt and a black Hannah Montana jacket with a fur-lined hood.
Flyers of Tori have been plastered all over Woodstock, a city of about 30,000, 125 kilometres southwest of Toronto.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Oxford Community Police at 519-421-2800.