Sharron Prior, a young girl from Point St. Charles, was murdered in 1975. I wrote about her brutal death in my book With a Closed Fist. The National Post article below shares how Sharron’s mother, Yvonne, and her sisters continue to search for answers and hunt for her killer- even 37 years later.
“Mother Hunts a Killer” By Kathy Dobson
Mother Hunts a Killer
By Kathy Dobson, National Post · Apr. 13, 2012 |
When Yvonne Prior was asked to identify her young daughter’s body a few days after Easter in 1975, she couldn’t do it. Sharron Prior, 16, had been abducted on her way to a pizzeria near her Montreal home; her battered body was discovered in a field miles away four days later.
“I knew I couldn’t go down to see her. I didn’t want to see my daughter like that. So my brother went.”
It was the last time Ms. Prior took a passive response to the tragedy that divided her life in half – before Sharron disappeared, and after.
For 37 years, Yvonne has taken charge of her grief, dedicating her life to searching for answers to her daughter’s death, as well as trying to help others.
In addition to a website dedicated to finding Sharron’s killer, which includes links to unsolved murder cases in Quebec and across Canada, and a Facebook page with almost 1,000 members, many of whom still debate the case, sharing insights and theories online, Yvonne and her twin daughters, Doreen and Moreen, constantly prowl the Internet, looking for connections and opportunities to raise awareness about Sharron, and other missing children.
Yvonne’s list includes cases such as Tammy Leaky, a 12-year-old who went missing in 1981, just a few blocks away from where Sharron disappeared six years earlier.
Tammy’s body was found later the same day, raped, beaten and strangled.
“In the 70s,” says Doreen, “we didn’t have computers and social networking. There was no Child Find when Sharron went missing. There was no Amber Alert, no poster campaigns. There was paper and radio but now there is so much more. Photos can be posted online and distributed around the world in minutes. The first 48 hours are the most critical in a missing person’s case, so now when a child goes missing, we want it out there in the public’s eye right away.”
Eleven-year-old Kathryn-Mary Herbert was out with a friend on Sept. 24, 1975, and walking home when she was snatched a short distance from her Abbotsford, B.C., house. Her body was found two months later. An autopsy report revealed she had suffered a fractured skull and broken jaw.
Yvonne regularly shares updates and information about the case, exchanging regular emails with Kathryn-Mary’s mom.
“We know her grief, that her daughter’s killer is still out there.”
Yvonne and her daughters, who were born two years after Sharron, sometimes take a more hands-on approach.
In 1978, Sherbrooke, Que., teen Theresa Allore disappeared and her body was discovered five months later lying facedown in water with only her bra and underwear.
In 2006, her family decided to conduct a search in the area her body had been found, hoping to recover evidence that may have been unclaimed for 27 years.
Yvonne and her daughters joined the Allore family in the search for clues. Although nothing definitive was uncovered that day, Yvonne continues to stay on top of the case, as she does with all the cold-case files involving children across Canada.
Although the Longueil Police Department says they have yet to link the case with a serial killer, Yvonne suspects otherwise, believing Sharron may have been the victim of a serial killer who roamed the country, perhaps by train, targeting young girls close in age and looks. Reading Yvonne’s detailed reports on the victims’ age and deadly injuries, one can’t help but notice the patterns. She seems like a seasoned professional.
“I wish the police could share the evidence they have from my daughter’s case,” she says. “I might see or pick up something that, even after all these years, might have been missed or overlooked during the early years of the investigation.”
Although more than 70 potential suspects have been looked at by the po-lice, nothing has ever led to an arrest. “I only hope it’s solved in my mom’s lifetime,” Doreen says.
This week, police announced an anonymous donor has stepped forward to offer a $10,000 reward. Police also set up a fresh command post in Point St. Charles, and set up a dedicated phone line.
“I believe in my heart that someone, somewhere, knows something,” Yvonne says.
When people learn about how many hours and how much time she devotes to Sharron’s case, and all of the other families of other missing children she’s in contact with, they’ll sometimes ask why she doesn’t just let it go. Especially after all these years.
“I even had a lady say, ‘You have other children.’ But each of your children is special. All children are special. And my contact with these other families – the bond that we share as parents of these missing and murdered children – is that we help to keep a spotlight on each other’s cases.”