May 30, 2023
Disclaimer: This post contains details of murder and sexual abuse; reader discretion is advised.
In 1975, 16-year-old Sharron Prior disappeared on a spring evening from Montreal, Canada. The teenager went missing at around 7:30pm from a street near her home on Congregation Street in the Point St. Charles area and was found dead a few days later.
Sharron often made the short walk between her home and Marina’s Restaurant, a local pizza parlour near Wellington Street. The walk took approximately five minutes and was a popular place for teens in the area. She had planned to meet her friends and boyfriend that night- but never made it.
Sharron had never run away from home, nor had she taken anything with her that suggested she had done so. Important personal items, including money and a card she used to travel on local buses, were left behind in her bedroom.
Following Sharron’s disappearance, over one hundred local officers searched for the girl. Little did they know, she was in the hands of her assailant.
Sharron's body was discovered by a local beekeeper on April 01, 1975, in field in Longueil, by Chemin du Lac and Guimond Boulevard. She was still clad in her suede coat, sweater, socks, and shoes, but her jeans were found several feet from her body and her underwear hanging from the branch of a nearby tree. Police theorized that the victim's killer had driven to the scene and dumped the victims body, before returning with her jeans and underwear and throwing them from the vehicle. They believed the perpetrator was familiar with the field, and knew the padlock on the gate to the field would not be snapped shut. The vehicles tire tracks were well-preserved in the frozen soil and indicated that the killer had some trouble driving on the terrain.
A men’s shirt was also found near the body and was believed to have been used to tie up the teen. Judging by the size 17 collar and 34 inch sleeves of the shirt, as well as the depth of the footprint the killer left behind, police determined that he was approximately 6ft tall and 200lbs.
Chewed up tape that clung to her hair indicated that she had her mouth taped shut to muffle her screams.
Autopsy would later reveal the victim had been raped, and murdered by asphyxiation. Blood in her lungs indicated that her killer had kneeled with the full force of his weight on her chest.
Further injuries described a struggle in which Sharron fought back and was in turn struck in the face, resulting in bruising and a fractured jaw on both sides, as well as a loose tooth that was likely knocked out and subsequently punctured a hole in her cheek.
A friend of Sharron, John McAleer, said that a man seemed to have been following them for a few weeks before the disappearance.
Sharron's funeral was attended by almost 200 people, including loved ones, school friends and local residents.
Cheryl Roy, a 23-year-old mother, had been walking near the same Pizza Parlor when she too was attacked by an unidentified assailant at a similar time of night. At 7:15pm, a curly haired man weighing around 200lbs, put a knife to her throat and attempted to rip her trousers. The commotion attracted the attention of a group of children, who ran to the scene of the attack, scaring off the perpetrator. Police believed Roy’s attacker was likely Sharron Prior's killer.
Despite investigators best efforts, the case went cold, and the killer continued to roam free.
The Service de police de l'agglomération de Longueuil put out a statement last week identifying Sharron’s killer almost fifty years later.
Once again, genetic genealogy aided both the SPAL Major Crimes Division’s Unsolved Homicide Files Unit and LJML specialists in discovering the identity of the killer- a now deceased American fugitive identified as Franklin Romine.
DNA samples from the crime scene that had been carefully preserved for almost five decades was tested against that of Romine’s exhumed remains, proving to be a match. At the time of Sharron’s murder in 1975, it was confirmed that a member of the Romine family was living in Montreal.
At the time of Sharron's rape and murder, Romine was 29. He passed away several years later in 1982.
Romine had a prior criminal record, including a rape charge back in West Virginia, after breaking into a home in Parkersburg and assaulting a woman, just two years before the brutal murder in 1975. In fact, Romine had a criminal history stretching back to childhood.
He had relocated to Montreal to avoid charges back in the states, however, continued to offend. His mugshot from 1973 shows a white male with curly hair, similar to the description given by Cheryl Roy who survived and escaped her attacker.
A few months after murdering Sharron Prior, Romine was arrested by Canadian Border Officials for fleeing charges back in the U.S. He was sent back to West Virginia and spent a decade behind bars for the Parkersburg rape.
When police spoke with one of Romine’s brothers, he allegedly said: “He probably did it.”
Sharron’s mother, Maureen, who never stopped looking for her daughters killer, survives to this day. Now, in her eighties, she can finally put a name to the man that brutally ripped her daughter from the world.
She said: "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."
February 20, 2024
February 13, 2024