It's a typical morning. Katrina announces she doesn't want to go to school today. I try not to fight with her, as I have a busy morning. She gets dressed, eats her cantaloupe, and fights with her brother over watching Sesame Street or some other kids' show. Then she dons her jacket and book bag, and walks the three blocks from our house to school.
It's not a far walk - just a couple of minutes each way. But it's just far enough, with two turns, that the school is out of sight from our home. At the end of the day, she will walk home, and should be opening the door at approximately 3:25 p.m.
It was on a walk just like this, in Woodstock, Ont., that Tori Stafford disappeared. That walk now gives me the chills.
As a seasoned former court reporter who has covered some pretty brutal crimes, including Kurt Dagenais' shooting of two Mounties, the Stafford case has, at times, literally kept me up at night. I'm not even covering it, but I can imagine what it must have been like.
Every story about it that was printed online has a stock photo of Tori. The similarities between Tori and Katrina are striking. The same age, blonde hair, big smiles - it's impossible for me not to equate her to my daughter. It would have been impossible for me to sit in that courtroom with any sort of objectivity.
I still remember bawling my eyes out about a case in North Battleford where a guy, spaced out on drugs, picked up his crying infant child by the leg and bashed the child against the wall. At the time, Katrina was a similar age to that infant.
Reading all the brutal things Terri-Lynne McClintic and Michael Rafferty did to Tori before finally killing her has been hard. I feel compelled to do so, but there are some things you cannot unread. You cannot forget. You can't just wish that mental image away from your mind.
All that said, as much as my gut instinct says, "Let them hang," we should not kill these people.
It's remarkable that with such a brutal crime, covered in such detail, that there has not been an outcry in the media for capital punishment. I have not seen one column, nor heard one pundit, call for the hangman's noose or a deadly shot in the arm. Certainly many have thought about it.
Unlike some other issues like abortion, where I don't feel the matter is truly settled with the Canadian public, capital punishment, another form of state-sanctioned killing, is a dead issue.
It's taken a long time to get here - decades, in fact. The final straws were likely the prominent wrongful convictions of Donald Marshall, Jr., David Milgaard, Guy Paul Morin, Romeo Phillion, Thomas Sophonow and Steven Truscott. Truscott was actually sentenced to death, despite being 14 when he supposedly raped and murdered a 12-year-old girl. If his sentence hadn't been commuted to life in prison, he would have hung.
The public has no appetite for killing someone with the state's hand, especially if they may have got it wrong.
It's too bad Kingston Penitentiary will be closing soon. It's cell blocks had more in common with dungeons than modern prisons. That's where the likes of Rafferty and McClintic belong, slowly rotting away.
Brian Zinchuk is editor of Pipeline News. He can be reached at brian.zinc...@sasktel.net