WOODSTOCK, Ont. – Since becoming a mom, Tara McDonald has spent every Mother’s Day with her two children by her side. But with her eight-year-old daughter Victoria Stafford missing for a month now, McDonald hopes for just one thing this Sunday: to get her daughter back.
“I just wish these people, this person, whoever it is, would just bring her home – let her go,” she said Wednesday at a news conference outside her home.
McDonald fondly recalled the Mother’s Day card that her daughter – who every calls Tori – made for her last year, and said she will likely spend this Sunday at her mother’s place with her 11-year-old son Daryn.
“I really hope to have my child home for Mother’s Day,” she said.
Tori has missing since April 8, when she didn’t return home after school.
Massive search efforts have continued throughout this small southwestern Ontario city, but local and provincial police have failed to turn up significant clues into her suspected abduction.
Standing outside McDonald’s tiny white-panelled house, Tori’s parents looked the same as they said they felt: drained.
“I’m just at the frustrated point,” said McDonald, her pale face framed by large sunglasses that couldn’t hide the fact she was on the verge of tears.
“I’ve hit the sad, the angry. I’m totally frustrated. My main concern is our daughter. Who has her? Is she being taken care of? And why is it that you want our child?”
Rodney Stafford, the girl’s father who is separated from McDonald, joined her at Wednesday’s news conference, wearing a homemade T-shirt emblazoned with “Daddy’s Little Girl” and adorned with a painting he’d created of floating purple balloons and Tori’s photo placed just below his heart.
Stafford said questions about his daughter’s whereabouts stream through his head “all day, every day.”
Tori’s parents have continued to speak about the bubbly blond girl in hopes of keeping the case in the public eye, but like police, they too had no new information to share Wednesday.
The Grade 3 pupil was last seen in a grainy surveillance video walking with a dark-haired woman wearing a puffy white coat.
Police say they’ve determined the girl and her suspected abductor were walking away from her school and toward the parking lot of a nearby nursing home.
Investigators say they have received more than 2,500 tips since releasing a video this week of a dark-coloured car they are calling “a vehicle of interest.” They’re eager to speak to the car’s driver, who passed by the abduction scene moments after Tori disappeared.
A police investigator joined the media Wednesday to record the parents’ news conference on video.
“It doesn’t bother me, I don’t really think about it,” McDonald said when asked what she thought of the surveillance, adding she believes “police are doing what they can,” in the search for Tori.
The officer later explained he’s been sent to several of the news conferences to collect information.
A $50,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever abducted Tori.
A composite sketch of the woman seen on the video suggests the abductor may be 19 to 25 years old, about five feet one, weighing around 125 pounds, with long dark hair tightly pulled back in a ponytail.
Tori’s disappearance has also been featured on the TV show “America’s Most Wanted.”