West Virginia Man Identified As Killer In One Of Canada's Most Notorious Cold Cases
Sharron Prior was murdered in March 1975 in the Montreal neighborhood where she lived. The case went cold for decades until May 2023, when police announced they have identified the teenager’s killer.
On March 29, 1975, 16-year-old Sharron Kim Prior had a typical day with her family. She dyed Easter eggs for an upcoming Easter Egg hunt for some of her younger siblings and received some visitors, and then she set out to join some of her friends at a local pizza parlor called Marina’s Pizzeria near her home in Montreal’s Pointe-St-Charles neighborhood. Tragically, she never arrived for pizza and was never seen alive again.
Prior’s body was found nearby in Longueuil three days later. The Montreal Gazette reported that she had been raped and repeatedly beaten before she suffocated on her own blood.
Detectives worked tirelessly on the case, and her family never gave up in searching for justice for the teen. As the years went by, they even created a website to try to reach more people who could perhaps help solve the homicide.
On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, police in Longueuil, Quebec revealed that the murder had finally been solved. They determined that a West Virginia man, Franklin Maywood Romine, raped and murdered Sharron Prior back in 1975.
According to ABC News, police say DNA evidence gives 100% certainty that Romine is the killer. However, Romine won’t face trial because he died in 1982 when he was 36. At the time of his death, he had an extensive criminal record, including at least one rape conviction, reported CBC.
While trying to solve Prior’s murder, law enforcement officials investigated more than 100 persons of interest over the years, but no arrests were made. Romine wasn’t even a focus of the investigation until 2022.
When police started to investigate Romine, they discovered that Romine had lived in Canada, just a few blocks from Sharron, at the time of the murder, and he matched the physical description given by a woman he tried to attack prior to killing Sharron. The Montreal Gazette reported that he also drove the same type of vehicle that left a tire print near where Prior’s body was discovered.
The case was ultimately solved thanks to new advances in DNA technology. Romine’s DNA was positively identified on a shirt that was used to tie Prior up. To confirm this, after police linked the DNA to Romine’s family, they had his body exhumed to get a full genetic profile and make a positive identification of the killer.
Sharron Prior planned to be a veterinarian because her family wrote that she had “heartfelt compassion for God’s creatures”, and she was an athletic teen who accomplished much academic success. An annual scholarship was dedicated in her honor to help other young girls accomplish their dreams.
While solving Sharron’s murder does provide some sense of closure for the family, they still mourn for her. Yvonne Prior, Sharron’s mother, is now in her 80s and still living in Canada. She declined to comment after the announcement of the solved murder, but Sharron’s sisters spoke out.
"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," Doreen Prior, one of Sharron's sisters, said at a news conference.
"We will always be your mom, your little brother and sisters who sat there at that window that Easter weekend hoping to see you walking on home," said Sharron’s sister Moreen, as reported by CBC.
"You may never have come back to our house on Congregation Street that weekend. But you have never left our hearts and you never will. We love you, Sharron. May you now truly rest in peace."
In July 2022, one of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania’s oldest cold cases was solved when David Sinopoli, 68, was arrested for the brutal murder of Lindy Sue Biechler.