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Tori Stafford’s dad to join search for Kaden Young

Apr 13, 2018

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Rodney Stafford, the father of child murder victim Tori Stafford, will join the search for the body of three-year-old Kaden Young near Grand Valley this weekend.

Tori Stafford was abducted, raped and murdered on April 8, 2009.

Stafford said he wanted to help search for Kaden, who disappeared in the Grand River in February.

On the anniversary of his daughter’s death, Stafford wrote that he couldn’t help but think of Kaden’s family.

“Please, imagine what it feels like to have your child walk out of sight for even thirty seconds. Now picture that stressed feeling and double it each passing day. I give Kaden’s family all the credit in the world for continuing their search,” Stafford wrote in a public Facebook post.

Stafford told CBC News he was contacted about the need for volunteers to search for Kaden.

“We know the need, the hurt and the struggle that Kaden’s family is going through and hope we can help end the pain,” he said in a message on Facebook.

“I would like to reach out to so many that cared for Victoria and her tragedy and see if we cannot have more eyes and feet on the ground searching for this little boy,” he said. “The sense of relief for this family will be overwhelming when Kaden can finally be laid to rest.”

Stafford invited other people to join him in the search on Saturday.

Child swept away

Kaden went missing around 1 a.m. on Feb. 21. He was in a van his mom, Michelle Hanson, was driving near Grand Valley, west of Orangeville, when she drove past a road closure sign. They were about a kilometre from home when the van was caught up in water over the road and it went into the river.

Hanson freed herself and Young from the van, but the force of the water pulled him out of her arms.

Police, family members and volunteers have been searching the banks of the Grand River daily since then. On some weekends, hundreds have joined in the search, which spans from Grand Valley down to Belwood Lake in Fergus.

Some items that were in the van, including a booster seat and clothing, have been located, but there has been no sign of the child.

The cold spring weather has hampered search efforts at times. Ice pushed up from the river during the flooding in February remains along the banks. As well, ten per cent of the reservoir at Belwood Lake is still covered by ice.

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