Credits: File phot
"OK, hon, we'll see you tomorrow," Jennifer Murrell said to the bubbly Victoria "Tori" Stafford.
And then, Murrell told a hushed courtroom, "She went out the door."
Stafford, 8, didn't return to school the next day and Murrell found herself on a witness stand Tuesday at the trial of Michael Thomas Rafferty, who is accused of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering Stafford.
Murrell struggled to keep her composure while describing her Grade 3 student's last day alive, April 8, 2009.
In a normal day filled with language and math lessons, twice Murrell had little chats with the girl she always called Victoria, whom she loved for her spunkiness.
After second recess, Stafford wanted to call home and get a change of clothing because, she said, she'd fallen into a puddle.
After a little chat, Stafford admitted she and her friends had been jumping in puddles.
Murrell told Stafford she'd just have to wait until her tights dried, and explained that is what happens when you play in puddles.
"She just took it as it was and said, 'OK, Mrs. Murrell,' and went on with her day."
Later in the day, Stafford was fooling around with some scissors and talked about cutting decals off a friend's sweater.
"She had a little sit at her desk until she felt she could use the materials properly," Murrell said. "That was just a silly moment we had."
The rest of the day Stafford was her "bubbly little self."
Murrell cried throughout her testimony about the little girl who loved art, animals and helping younger children.
"She was just a lovely little girl," Murrell said.
A couple of minutes after the dismissal bell rang,
Stafford asked if she could go back in the class to get her butterfly earrings.
She did and came back a minute later, after the other children had left.
She wasn't wearing the earrings and Murrell figured she had them in her pocket or backpack.
She left the school and turned to walk up Fyfe Ave.
At one point during her testimony, it appeared Rafferty was crying. He took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes.
At the start of the proceedings, Judge Thomas Heeney explained why the court was cleared for several hours on Monday.
He said the court became aware of a Facebook posting from someone claiming to be a relative of a juror.
The posting said the juror had made disparaging remarks about Rafferty.
The jurors were shown a photo of the Facebook poster and no one recognized the person. It was later determined the poster was connected to a prospective juror who wasn't chosen. Heeny said the episode highlights the perils of the Internet and the need for jurors not to discuss the case.
The trial is expected to last up to three months.