DNA evidence identifies teen's killer after 48 years
Sharron Prior's family thankful to finally have definitive answers
The Longueuil police say they are now “100 per cent” certain that they have solved the mystery of who killed Sharron Prior, the teenager who was found dead on the South Shore days after she disappeared in Pointe-st-charles.
Pierre Duquette, a managing investigator with the Longueuil police, made the announcement Tuesday afternoon at a crowded news conference attended by members of Sharron's family.
“We are all still grieving the loss of a daughter and a sister, who was savagely murdered at age 16 on March 29, 1975,” Sharron's sister, Doreen Prior, told reporters.
“Life has not been easy on us since then, but Sharron has given us strength for the past 47 years.”
Explaining the lengthy investigation, Duquette went over a long chronology of events that happened since 1975.
The chronology ended recently, after the Longueuil police petitioned a court in West Virginia and were granted permission to exhume the remains of Franklin Romine, a man who died in Verdun seven years after Sharron was killed.
Duquette said the remains provided evidence that proved without a doubt that Romine's DNA was on a blue t-shirt used to tie Sharron's hands behind her back and on two items of her clothing.
Duquette said it was continued advancements in DNA that solved the crime.
For many years, a complete DNA profile could not be lifted from the clothing. Advancements in recent years changed that and a complete male profile was found on the three items.
They all matched and another relatively recent development, the increasing popularity of people researching their ancestry, led specialists to inform the Longueuil police that the person they were looking for had the family name Romine.
Duquette said detective Éric Racicot used that information and searched tirelessly through databases connected to Prior, the area where she was kidnapped and where she was found.
That research revealed things like how Romine, who died in 1982, lived near Sharron at one point. He also owned a vehicle that used a type of tire that matched a tire print found at the crime scene.
On March 29, 1975, Prior was supposed to meet with friends at a restaurant in Pointe- St-charles, but she never showed up. Her body was found in Longueuil on April 1 that year.
A pathologist concluded she had been raped, beaten repeatedly, especially in the face, and suffocated on her own blood.
The homicide remained unsolved for decades.
Attending Tuesday's news conference, Sharron's mother, Yvonne Prior, declined to make a comment. Sharron's two sisters thanked the many people who tried to help find the killer since 1975.
Maureen Prior singled out several people and specifically Racicot, the detective who pushed the case to its end.
“You pushed new technology to its boundaries.” Maureen Prior said. “Saying thank you to you hardly seems like enough, but that is all we have today.”
The sisters also thanked John Allore, whose sister Theresa was killed in the Eastern Townships under similar circumstances.
Allore hosted a podcast and wrote two books about his search for answers and supported other families who shared the same painful experience of losing a loved one and not knowing who was responsible. Allore died recently in a biking accident near his home in the U.S.
“John once said to our family that he hoped to see just one of the Quebec cold cases solved,” Maureen Prior said. “Well guess what John. We did it. We know that you and Theresa will be smiling.”