“Neither gods nor men can foresee when an evil deed will bear its fruit.”
5th and 6th century Buddhist monk
Dear Michael Rafferty,
I don’t know if there is a hell, but if there is one, I sincerely hope you rot there. Slowly.
You have been sentenced to life in jail but that is a pittance compared to what you deserve.
You yourself sentenced eight-year-old Victoria Stafford to death — a horrible, terrifying, torturous death — without any thought for the innocent life you were bringing to a brutal conclusion.
She had no counsel. She had no jury.
She was frightened, raped, kicked, stomped upon. Fractured ribs, a lacerated liver. Her skull smashed in with a hammer, her body dumped in garbage bags — all for having crossed paths with you and your equally odious girlfriend.
How can you live with yourself? Truthfully? I hope you can’t. Then again, someone who is so depraved as to be sexually aroused by an abducted child screaming in pain is unlikely to suffer huge pangs of remorse and guilt.
I feel so much disgust for you, it chokes me. I see that beautiful, innocent little girl’s face before I sleep and when I wake. And I didn’t even know her. I can’t imagine the pain her family is going through, pain they expressed so articulately in their victim impact statements this week.
The day you killed Tori Stafford was the first time she had ever left school to walk home alone. I hope her parents know that all the warnings in the world about not speaking to strangers could never have been a match for your twisted determination to rape a child — anyone’s child — as long as she was young enough.
You are beyond my imagining, and yet you are, unfortunately, real.
It’s so hard to grasp that there really are people like you who are so intent on satisfying their own sick desires that they would torture and murder an innocent.
Do you think your fellow inmates in prison will be impressed to find out they’re sharing space with a disgusting excuse of a human being who told his girlfriend to lure a child away with the promise of seeing a puppy? That’ll make you Big Man in Cellblock B for sure.
I hope you’re vilified there. And worse — and I consider myself a pacifist. This is how much anger I feel for you.
Tori Stafford, rushing back into her classroom on the last day of her life to retrieve the butterfly earrings her mom had let her wear. Being responsible enough at that age to want to return them, as promised. A skipping, puddle-splashing, puppy-loving happy little girl excited by thoughts of Hanna Montana and “High School Musical 3.” A petite little thing with sparkling blue eyes and a wide, impish grin that would capture your heart, if you had one.
You clearly don’t, despite your pathetic show of weeping and your hollow apology at your sentencing hearing. And all the while you still insisted you were not guilty of the charges.
“I’m truly sorry to the entire family,” you said.
Spare us. You haven’t taken any responsibility.
Can you imagine how scared Tori Stafford must have been, shoved into a stranger’s car and covered up with your coat? Can you imagine the little-kid guilt she probably felt for having spoken to a stranger, and knowing that her parents and older brother would wonder where she was when she didn’t return from school?
Can you imagine her mortification and then fear when you stopped on that deserted road and ripped off her clothes — leaving only her Hannah Montana T-shirt? When you brutally and repeatedly raped her?
Why should a child have to go through agony for your sexual gratification? Why should a child have to go through agony, period?
You don’t know anything about innocence, so I can’t believe you had the gall to plead not guilty. Did you hope to blame the whole thing on your malleable co-murderer, Terri-Lynne McClintic, so that you could go back out into the street and con another desperate, messed-up woman into abducting someone else’s child for you? “Here’s some money, sweetheart. Get me some garbage bags and a hammer.”
I’ll tell you something about innocence. Even after Tori was sexually assaulted, as your pathetic counterpart stood by and did nothing, that child was still innocent enough to look to your girlfriend for protection against you; still trusting enough to believe that she, at least, would do the right thing.
But no. Your girlfriend, in your own estimation, would do anything for a little bit of love. (As if you were actually capable of giving her any.) And that includes being a party to a child’s torture and murder, or even actively having a hand in it — the truth of which we will never know.
But I don’t care about those details. I blame you. You had McClintic, a drug-addled, rage-fuelled teenager, at your beck and call, and you used her to live out your fantasy — to rape a child. And then you killed that child. A beloved girl loved by her family, teachers and friends.
And you pleaded not guilty — why? So her family would have to sit through the horrifying evidence against you? Or did you find reliving those details sexually stimulating? Or both?
I hope you rot. I really do. I’d like to think that you will spend the rest of your pathetic life awash in agony for the suffering you have caused. You snuffed out a promising, happy life and sentenced her loved ones to an eternity of remembering that their sweet little girl died in one of the most horrible ways possible. But I know you don’t care, because if you had any feelings at all you would never have touched that child.
Tori’s father said that you being found guilty — both you and your despicable cohort — brought justice for Tori. That’s a nice thought.
But the truth is there is no justice in this. No justice. Just evil and absence and heart-wrenching pain.
Tori’s body was found clothed only in her “A Girl Can Dream” Hannah Montana T-shirt.
A girl can dream all right. And you are her worst nightmare.
I hope you rot, you bastard.
Pam Frampton is a columnist and
The Telegram’s associate managing editor.
She can be reached by email at