Canadian police said Tuesday they have solved one of the highest-profile cold cases in Quebec history, the 1975 rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl by a West Virginia man who died more than 40 years ago.
Police in Longueuil, Quebec say DNA evidence allows them to be 100% certain that Franklin Mayaud Romine killed teenager Sharon Pryor in the Montreal suburb.
The body of Romine, who was born in 1946 in Huntington, West Virginia’s second-largest city, and died under mysterious circumstances in Verdun, Montreal, in 1982 at the age of 36, was exhumed from a West Virginia cemetery in early May for DNA testing. Confirm his link with crime.
Longueuil police said DNA from Romine — who had a long criminal history — matched samples found at the scene of the murder. He also matched a witness’ physical description of the suspect.
Pryor’s rape and murder have remained unsolved since she disappeared on March 29, 1975 while visiting friends at a pizza parlor near her home in Montreal’s Pointe-Saint-Charles neighborhood.
His body was found three days later in a forest in Longueuil, on the south shore of Montreal.
“Solving Sharon’s case will never bring Sharon back. But knowing that her killer is no longer in this world and will kill no more gives us some closure,” Pryor’s sister Doreen said Tuesday, according to CTV News.
Law enforcement has investigated more than 100 suspects over the years, but has never made any arrests. Yvonne Pryor, the teenager’s mother, now in her 80s, still lives in Canada, and has spent her life searching for her daughter’s killer.
According to WCHS-TV in Charleston, West Virginia, Romine’s name did not come up in the investigation until last year. When Longueuil police said they began searching through criminal records, they found an extensive history of violence and Romine’s attempts to evade law enforcement by moving between West Virginia and Canada.
Romine first tried to escape from a West Virginia penitentiary in 1964 and later escaped in 1967, according to records obtained by WCHS. Two years later, Romine already had a Canadian rap sheet.
In 1974, he was arrested for breaking into a house and raping a woman in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He was released on $2,500 bond two months later and fled to Canada, according to an Associated Press story at the time.
Just months after Pryor’s murder in 1975, Romine was captured by Canadian border officials and deported back to West Virginia, where he was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison for sexual assault in the Parkersburg case.
He died in Canada in 1982, shortly after his release, although officials say they have not been able to find a death certificate detailing his cause of death. His body was returned to his mother in West Virginia, where his family buried him in Pine Grove Cemetery, West Virginia, in Putnam County.
Putnam County Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia told CBS affiliate WOWK-TV earlier this month that he has made a legal request to the court to get approval for the body.
Sorsaia called the crime against Praer “the worst element of the human race”.
“It’s a combination of the worst element of the human race, interacting with the most innocent element of the human race — a child,” he told WCHS. “Some things are worse than death – losing a child like that, a family, a mother. That’s how your child died.”
On Tuesday, Prior’s family thanked police for the “miracle of science” that finally identified the killer, CTV News reported.
“You never came back to our house or to Congregation Street that weekend but you never left our hearts and you never will,” Sharon’s sister Maureen said.
48 years after Sharon Pryor’s murder, she was identified thanks to her DNA by The SPAL, in collaboration with…
Posted by Longueuil Agglomeration Police Department on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2023