It was with mixed emotions (mostly relief) that I heard the news early Monday morning that Tori Stafford had been found.
My heart dropped when I found out where.
The Woodstock child was found three months after she went missing after school in a rural area on the edge of Mount Forest. I live in Mount Forest. This has been my home for 20 years.
I watched the progression of this case with a mix of sadness, anger, fear and disbelief. But for some reason, I felt they would find her. There would be a conclusion for the Stafford family. Perhaps it was wishful thinking, because I cannot imagine the type of Hell it would be as a parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle to think that my child was out there somewhere. Bad enough to know she was gone. Unbearable to think that you don't have closure. No goodbyes...?
Naturally, the national media is playing this out like Mount Forest is the dumping ground for dead bodies. 20 years ago a young girl was murdered by a friend of her family and disposed of outside of town. Once every twenty years for a community the size of Mount Forest isn't unbalanced. As you can see, I find myself defensive of my town.
I am glad Tori was found here for a couple of reasons. One - if my child was murdered and had to be kept somewhere waiting to be found, I would want him/her to be found in a peaceful woodlot, marked by a pile of rocks so that a brave police officer could easily located him/her.
Two - because the families in my community need a wake up call to remember that we are not insulated from the evils of this world. Love your children, hold them close, and teach them how to be safe.
That is Tori's legacy.