WOODSTOCK, Ont. — Parents in a southwestern Ontario city are holding their children a little bit tighter as a search there continues for a missing eight-year-old girl.
Victoria (Tori) Stafford was last seen leaving her school in the city of Woodstock, east of London, Wednesday afternoon.
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Since Thursday night, police and crowds of civilian volunteers have been searching for the tiny blond child.
James Schumann, 31, doesn’t know what he would do if his six-year-old son Dion went missing.
He said he has been keeping an extra close eye on the boy since Victoria’s disappearance.
“It’s pretty devastating,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t happen to (my child). I’m pretty much watching, see where he’s going, make sure nothing like this would happen to him.”
Jason Gardyne, a father of three, said it worries him that Victoria seems to have just vanished.
“I’ve lived here all my life — 34 years — and I’ve never heard anything like that,” he said, while taking a walk with his seven-year-old daughter.
However, he said he still doesn’t let his children walk home from school alone.
“I keep a pretty close eye on them,” Gardyne said.
As police continue their around-the-clock search, the community is planning a candlelight vigil for Sunday night.
Police say they’ve identified Victoria in surveillance video around the time she was last seen, walking with a woman whom police call a “person of interest.”
They haven’t yet said if they suspect foul play.
The girl’s family has created a $10,000 reward for her return.
Janet McDougald, who moved to Woodstock 10 years ago, said she wonders what the community is coming to when an eight-year-old girl goes missing.
“I think it’s terrible,” she said. “I don’t know what I would do if I ever lost my little girl.”
Even though her little girl is now 21, McDougald said as a parent, Victoria’s disappearance scares her.
“I just hope they find her,” she said.