Mother’s anguish laid bare at vigil for missing girl

The heart-wrenching pain of a mother who does not know where her child is or if she is all right was laid bare Sunday night on the tear-stained face of Tara McDonald at a candlelight vigil for her missing eight-year-old daughter.

Victoria Stafford's mother Tara McDonald

WOODSTOCK, Ont. — The heart-wrenching pain of a mother who does not know where her child is or if she is all right was laid bare Sunday night on the tear-stained face of Tara McDonald at a candlelight vigil for her missing eight-year-old daughter.

Victoria Stafford vanished Wednesday after school, around the time she was captured on a surveillance video walking with an unidentified woman. In the agonizing days since there have been no sightings of the little girl and police have not yet been able to identify the woman on the tape.

“Nobody can begin to imagine what our family is going through,” McDonald said while choking back tears at a vigil in this southwestern Ontario city.

About 1,000 people held candles to the sky Sunday night and prayed for Victoria to return to her home safely. The family said they were overwhelmed by the support of the community.

“I know in my heart that she’s OK and that we’re going to find her,” McDonald said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

She tightly clutched family and friends for support and wept for her missing daughter. Her son, 10-year-old Daryn, sobbed and nestled his face in his mother’s neck. The children’s father, Rodney Stafford, says his kids are “two peas in a pod” and his son misses Victoria very much.

Rodney Stafford says he has been barely functioning in the days since his “baby girl” vanished.

“I can’t just walk up and grab both of my kids and hug them both and say, ‘Look, the Easter bunny came,”’ Stafford said Sunday.

“But I do have a bunch of stuff from the Easter bunny that I do plan on giving to Victoria. I’m really looking forward to giving it to her.”

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