Father of slain girl goes cross-country for child safety

He’s biking through some of Canada’s most populated and desolate areas,in hopes no other child suffers the same fate as his little girl, whowas kidnapped, killed and dumped in the woods.

He’s biking through some of Canada’s most populated and desolate areas, in hopes no other child suffers the same fate as his little girl, who was kidnapped, killed and dumped in the woods.

Rodney Stafford is 2,000 kilometres from Edmonton, his final destination in a bike trip he hopes will serve as a wake-up call to parents across Canada.

“We were nobodies — put it that way. Then someone took it upon themselves to abduct and murder our daughter,” he said from a Thunder Bay, Ont., roadside yesterday. “It could happen to anybody. It’s a disgusting world, and I want to open parents’ eyes.”

A countrywide search began after eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford was kidnapped as she walked home from school near her home in Woodstock, Ont., on April 8. Her remains were found July 19 in a wooded rural area 100 kilometres north of where she was lured into an idling car.

Rodney is pedalling toward closure, he said, adding he has had his “ups and downs” in the months since his daughter’s murder.

“Though, I can turn this tragedy into something positive,” he said.

Based on an average speed of 60 to 120 kilometres per day, he hopes to arrive in Edmonton on Sept. 17. He’ll then head to Jasper, where he’ll climb Whistlers Mountain, to release one purple balloon at the top.

“I’m going to get to the top and scream ‘we did it,’” he said, adding purple was Tori’s favourite colour.

Michael Rafferty, 28, and Terri-Lynne McClintic, 19, have each been charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping in connection with Tori’s death.