Nearly nine years after his conviction for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Woodstock, Ont., eight-year-old Tori Stafford, Michael Rafferty is now being accused by a relative of contributing to his own mother’s death from behind bars.
When Rafferty was moved from a maximum-security facility to the medium-security La Macaza Institution in Quebec, Tori Stafford’s family was enraged.
Her father Rodney’s anger at that development was well-documented.
Watch the full Crime Beat (click here) episode of Tori Stafford: Never Forget this Saturday, March 20 on Global TV.
Just months earlier, he had found out Tori’s other killer, Terri-Lynne McClintic, had been moved to an Indigenous healing lodge in Saskatchewan, a move reversed by the federal government after widespread public outcry and protest.
Despite the same outcry in Rafferty’s case, then-public safety minister Ralph Goodale held firm, insisting the institution was no less secure than other facilities and that it specializes in treating sex offenders like Rafferty, who has remained there ever since.
“Their whole goal is to try to make it lighter for or make it easier for the criminal to rehabilitate, to get back out onto the streets,” said Rodney Stafford, visibly angry.
“And they’ve totally left victims out in the shadows.”
Seeing Stafford’s disappointment reflected in media reports and interviews, an unexpected ally stepped in to assist in his calls for a reversal. A relative of Rafferty’s, speaking to Global News on condition of anonymity, contacted Stafford to tell him he would fight on his behalf.
“We started writing the government, asking them for an opportunity to explain what we found that was going on, why Michael should probably be in a maximum security facility as opposed to a medium security,” he said.
Crime Beat: How the murder of 8-year-old Tori Stafford has left lasting scars
That relative alleges the convicted killer had been extorting money from his own mother from behind bars for years.
“There was phone calls saying that he had been in the infirmary, (and that) his mother needed to provide money for protection,” he alleged.
“(Michael Rafferty) had been reaching out to his mother on a regular basis and getting money sent to him and sent to what seems to be inmates’ spouses, claiming that he was fearful of his life, that he had owed people … This is sort of the personality that he’s had his whole life. Manipulative. Knows how to sort of sway people’s opinions pretty easy.”
The convicted killer’s relative, who says he has had contact with Rafferty since his conviction but not for more than two years, claims Rafferty was attacked in custody once, but that he was not in constant danger as he claimed.
Instead, he says Rafferty was manipulating his mother, playing on her fears to help him pay back other prisoners for favours — things allegedly as simple as buying junk food from the prison canteen.
The relative provided Global News with a large folder filled with copies of cheques and money order receipts from 2014 to 2018. It’s a collection he says represents just a fraction of the documentation Rafferty’s mother, Deborah Murphy, kept.
“That’s not all of it … We’ve got boxes and boxes of them,” he told Global News.
“There’s probably the equivalent of $20-25,000, $30,000 worth of money sent through to other people out there.”
The money appears to be sent to people mostly in Quebec, but as far away as British Columbia. Rafferty’s mother lived in Kitchener, Ont., and her family says she had no connections in other parts of Canada and that they do not recognize any of the names on those papers.
Global News tracked down and contacted several of the people listed on the documents but none of them would corroborate the relative’s claims. A request was also made for comment from Michael Rafferty himself, but he refused.
His relative said he repeatedly asked Correctional Service Canada (CSC) to stop the calls for money while they were happening but that they continued. He also claims he had an email conversation with officials at the service for most of 2019, sending them details and copies of those receipts, but “we have yet to hear anything further from that.”
In a statement about the allegations, a CSC spokesperson tells Global News “we do take action in reviewing information brought to our attention, including from victims and families,” but citing the Privacy Act, CSC says it is, “unable to comment on the specifics of an offender’s case.”
Ms. Murphy died in August 2018 of a heart attack. She was 60 years old and had suffered from previous health issues.
“The stress of the constant phone calls and the struggle financially to try and keep supporting (Michael Rafferty) in prison was just too much for her when she passed away,” claimed the relative that spoke to Global News.
“His grandmother, her mother, passed away shortly thereafter. Once his mother was unable to facilitate finances to him, he started approaching his grandmother to do that … Our family 100 per cent hold him accountable for both their deaths.”
Rafferty’s relative hopes sharing his story publicly will reopen the conversation about Rafferty’s move to medium security in solidarity with Tori Stafford’s family. He has even been in direct contact with Rodney Stafford to express his support.
“It’s very disheartening,” says Stafford about the allegations.
“To know that his family is willing to make those steps as well to do what’s right in this case, I couldn’t appreciate it any more.”
None of the claims made by Rafferty’s relative have been proven.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.