WOODSTOCK, Ont. — The girl in a surveillance video has been positively identified as a missing eight-year-old Woodstock, Ont., girl, Oxford Community Police Service investigators said Thursday night.
The video was taken by a school video camera at 3:32 p.m. Wednesday, around the same time Victoria Stafford, a Grade 3 student, left Oliver Stephens Public School.
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Victoria is seen with an unidentified woman in the video.
Police said they were trying to identify the unknown woman, described as being between 19 and 25 years old with long black hair.
The woman was wearing a white winter parka and tight blue jeans.
Hundreds of volunteers, including school-aged children, fanned across this southwestern Ontario city Thursday night, handing out photographs of Victoria.
About 40 officers from the Oxford Community, Waterloo Region, London and provincial police forces were involved in the search.
“We’re exploring all possible leads and have not ruled out any possibilities,” provincial police Const. Laurie-Anne Maitland said Thursday.
The police search was supported by canine units and a provincial police helicopter.
Police were encouraging every resident in the city, especially those in the missing girl’s neighbourhood, to check their homes and backyards.
Posters with her photograph began appearing in the front windows of homes and car windows as the entire city began rallying to help police.
Family friend Heather Baker, who was handing out posters, said Victoria is a good friend of her daughter.
She said that Victoria and her mother moved less than a week ago.
Her disappearance has left the community feeling “terrified, scared and sad,” Baker said. “I have a little girl the same age.”
Victoria was believed to be wearing a green shirt, a denim skirt, black and white shoes and a black Hannah Montana jacket with a white fur-lined hood when she disappeared.
She may have been carrying a purple and pink Bratz purse.
Police said they have no reason to suspect foul play but they are not ruling it out.
Maitland said police have not organized a community ground search because they don’t have the resources to co-ordinate a large-scale effort but also because they don’t want possible evidence contaminated.
“At the same time, we want (community members) to keep their eyes peeled,” she said.
Victoria’s disappearance does not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert, Maitland said.
Amber Alert criteria includes a confirmed abduction, a credible belief the victim is in danger and a description of the abductee and the abductor.