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Canadian murder case breaks cold cases in W.Va.


WINFIELD — Now that DNA has positively linked a West Virginia man to a rape and murder case in Canada, it’s possible other cold cases may be solved with the same evidence.

Frank Romine a resident of Putnam County who died 40 years ago, is the person who raped and killed Sharon Prior, 16, in 1975. Police in Longueuil, Quebec, said the DNA match allowed them to be 100% certain he’s the one responsible for the teen’s death almost 50 years ago.

As WCHS TV first reported, Canadian authorities were given the green light to exhume Romine’s remains from a Putnam County cemetery to extract the DNA samples. Putnam County Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia helped guide the West Virginia end of the investigation for the Canadian investigators.

“We’re just thrilled we were able to help our friends in Canada solve a big case. That’s something I’m very proud we were able to do,” said Sorsaia last week after the DNA results were confirmed.

Now that authorities have access to Romine’s DNA it’s possible he could be linked to other crimes across the country, which have been unsolved for decades.

“The Canadians are going to put it into the CODIS System, which is a national DNA data bank for law enforcement. If you have a homicide or sexual assault case you can put the DNA profile in CODIS and see if you get a match. That may prove productive,” said Sorsaia.

He added there are already two West Virginia cases that may have ties to Romine, who had a long criminal history. One case is in Wheeling in which a woman was sexually assaulted and murdered.

“What’s interesting about that is he was in the Moundsville penitentiary up there. He escaped from Moundsville at one point, so we have to look at that timeline of when he escaped and if it matches with that case in Wheeling it might be a major lead,” Sorsaia said.

The Wheeling case may also have a DNA profile to help narrow down the case even further.

A second case is in Mason County where a young woman disappeared and was never seen again. Her wallet was found on the riverbank in town, but Sorsaia said that case may be harder to link to Romine since a body was never found.

The timeline is the key in the cases involving Romine. Canadian investigators were able to track his movement for years because he spent so much time in and out of jail and prison.

“He was constantly in and out of jail. You can look at the timeline where he’s in jail, gets out, commits another crime, then goes back to jail. In that timeline you have windows of opportunity for criminal behavior,” Sorsaia said.