In late March 1975, 16-year-old Sharron Prior left her home in Pointe-St-Charles, Quebec, to meet friends at a local pizza restaurant.
A few days later, her body was found in a wooded area in Longueuil.
The case of Prior’s rape and murder ran cold and her family was left searching for answers for nearly 50 years.
Thanks to new evidence, Longueuil police say they have finally identified the man who killed Prior.
According to the Service de police de l’agglomeration de Longueuiel, detectives are now 100% certain that Sharron Prior was murdered by Franklin Maywood Romine.
In a Facebook post, translated from French, they say a “scientific breakthrough in genetic genealogy has enabled investigators from the Unsolved Homicide Cases Unit of the SPAL’s Major Crimes Division and specialists at the LSJML to link DNA taken from a crime scene evidence to that of an American family in West Virginia.”
They explain that investigators discovered that a member of the family was living in Montreal at the time of the murder.
The major breakthrough came last year when police made a DNA connection between relatives of Romine and DNA found on the T-shirt used to restrain Prior during her abduction.
Romine had an extensive criminal record but was never previously a suspect in the murder.
He lived around 10 kilometres from Prior’s family residence at the time of her disappearance.
Romine died in 1982, at the age of 36, and was buried in West Virginia.
Last month, following the DNA discovery, police issued a statement saying, “We can speculate all day on it, but we won’t know the answer until we open the grave to see the remains.”
Longueuil police successfully petitioned for Romine to be exhumed from Putnam County cemetery.
At a news conference on Tuesday, they confirmed that the results of biological tests on Romine’s remains had led them to conclude he murdered the 16-year-old in 1975.
The news came as a relief to the Prior family.
Sharron’s mother Yvonne says she spent her whole life looking for her daughter’s killer.
At the press conference, Sharron’s sister Doreen said, “The solving of Sharron’s case will never bring Sharron back, but knowing that her killer is no longer on this Earth and cannot kill anymore brings us to somewhat of a closure to this long chapter of our lives.”
“We are still grieving at the loss of our daughter and sister, who was savagely murdered at the age of 16, March 29th, 1975. Life has not been easy for us since then but Sharron has given us strength for the past 48 years and especially today, Sharon is here beside us,” she added.
Trois femmes soulagées; Yvonne #Prior sait désormais qui a tué sa fille Sharron, 48 ans après sa mort, grâce au travail des policiers de #Longueuil et aux preuves d’#ADN. Elle est ici avec ses deux autres filles. Ça a été le combat de toute sa vie! #iciRdi pic.twitter.com/OD4WvFM3zc
— Catherine Gauthier (@catgau) May 23, 2023
Yvonne and her two daughters are pictured together at the conference above.
The caption reads, “Three relieved women.”