Police solve 1975 murder of Montreal teen Sharron Prior after new DNA evidence
The murder of Montreal teenager Sharron Prior has been solved, 48 years later.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Chief Inspector of the Major Crimes Division Pierre Duquette of the Longueuil police service revealed a scientific breakthrough in the field of genetic genealogy led them to identifying the perpetrator of the 1975 cold case.
Biological tests have 100 per cent confirmed that Franklin Maywood Romine, born on April 2, 1946, was the killer that police had been trying to identify for nearly five decades, he said.
"The solving of Sharron's case will never bring Sharron back. But knowing that her killer is no longer on this Earth and won't kill anymore, brings us to somewhat of a closure," Prior's sister Doreen said Tuesday.
The major breakthrough in one of Quebec's most high-profile cold cases follows the exhumation of Romine's body earlier this month in West Virginia.
Romine, who died in 1982, was identified as the primary suspect after a new analysis technique uncovered his DNA on Prior's clothing.
Prior, 16, disappeared in Montreal's Pointe-Saint-Charles neighbourhood in 1975 while on her way to meet friends at a pizzeria.
Four days later, her beaten, naked body was found at a field in Longueuil, on Montreal's South Shore.
After committing a rape in West Virginia in 1974, Romine reportedly fled to Canada where he is believed to have abducted and murdered Prior.
Shortly after, he was arrested in Montreal on the West Virginia rape and extradited to the U.S.
Investigators said DNA had been gathered from Prior's clothing and from a shirt used to restrain her was never sufficient for analysis until recently. Advances in DNA technology allowed police to obtain an amplified specimen of the DNA, enough to compare it to samples in a database containing thousands of profiles of people identified by their family names. That database led police to the Romine family name.
Police analyzed Y chromosome DNA — passed down almost unchanged from father to son — to identify a family line, and they matched the sample to four brothers in West Virginia.
Because Romine has died, Longueuil police say the confirmation of his identity closes this cold case and will not lead to any charges in the Canadian courts.
During the news conference Tuesday, the family thanked the police on both sides of the border for the "miracle of science" that led them to their sister's killer.
"You may never have come back to our house or Congregation Street that weekend but you have never left our hearts and you never will," Sharron's sister Moreen said.
"We love you Sharron now may you truly rest in peace."
With files from The Canadian Press