Police in Canada say they have identified the man who raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl in 1975.
Sharron Prior had been on her way to meet friends at a pizza restaurant near her Montreal home when she disappeared.
Her body was found three days later in woodland in Longueuil on Montreal’s South Shore but, despite investigating more than 100 suspects over the years, police never made any arrests.
This week, however, they said they are 100% certain that Sharron was murdered by Franklin Maywood Romine.
Romine was living in Montreal at the time of Sharron’s death and had a long criminal record, including a rape conviction in 1974.
He matched the description of a suspect and his car matched tyre tracks found near Sharron’s body.
Sharron’s younger sister Doreen said: “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.”
DNA was found at the scene in 1975 but it wasn’t enough to be tested or used in court.
It was kept safe, however, in the hope that one day better technology would mean it could be used to find Sharron’s killer.
The samples were sent to a lab in West Virginia in 2019 and were later matched to Romine’s relatives using genealogical websites.
Romine died in 1982 in mysterious circumstances, but DNA from his brothers was a close match to the samples found near Sharron’s body.
Earlier this month, police exhumed Romine’s body from a West Virginia cemetery and found that his DNA was a match.
Mother received the news ‘with many emotions’
Yvonne Prior, Sharron’s mother, is in her 80s and has spent her life trying to keep her daughter’s murder on the news agenda in the hope that the killer would be found.
Police said she and other family members were immediately told the news in a private meeting “with many emotions”.
Hope to families of victims searching for answers
They added that the technology used to solve Sharron’s case “will undoubtedly give hope to dozens and dozens of families of victims who are still today searching for answers”.
“Although this technique is not applicable to all unresolved cases, (police) undertake not to neglect any leads and to use all the tools made available to them in order to allow the families and loved ones of victims of these murders to get the answers they need.”