New DNA technology used to generate suspect sketch in Sherry Black case

Local News

SOUTH SALT LAKE Utah ( ABC4 Utah) – A new lead in the unsolved murder of Sherry Black was announced Thursday.

Police say they sent off blood evidence found at the scene that did not belong to Sherry Black to a lab specializing in a new DNA technology.  

The lab called Parabon NanoLabs uses a technology called “Snapshot” to extract DNA and produce a report and composite sketch of the person involved. In this case, they used the DNA to reverse engineer what the suspect would look like. They are able to determine ancestry, hair color, eye color, skin color and face shape. 
Police are able to use that information to narrow the suspect list and generate leads. 

At the Thursday after press conference, Sherry Black’s daughter spoke about finding the suspect.

“As has been said, seven years ago to the day, my mom Sherry Black was brutally murdered,” said Heidi Miller.  “The person who killed her is still out there. It’s been way too long. We need to catch that person so he can’t hurt anybody else.”

To date, there’s been no arrest despite clues left behind by the suspect.
At the crime scene, police said he left behind a belt and blood.  That DNA has failed to produce a suspect.

“If he would have been a repeat criminal offender, we would have had his DNA in the system,” said Ben Pender with Unified Police.  “But so far nothing has matched.”

South Salt Lake police chief Jack Carruth said detectives have not stopped investigating the case. They tried matching the DNA with convicted felons in a national data.  It produced no evidence of a suspect.  And he said from there, detectives are now using this latest technology, Parabon-snapshots, available to police departments.

“That information itself uses DNA, goes into the system and the company Parabon, creates an image of what the suspect may possibly look like,” said Carruth.

The laboratory breaks down the suspect’s ancestry,  eye, hair and skin color.

“By combining these attributes of appearance, the composite was produced depicting what the suspect looked like at 25 years of age,” said Pender.  “Texas actually just had a case that was solved because of this.”

And it’s now come to Utah in hopes of solving a seven-year old murder.

As an incentive, the Miller family increased the reward up to $250,000.

“No matter how small it may be, if you overheard something in a restaurant, if you’ve been hesitant to come forward, now is the time to come for you to do that,” said Gregg Miller, Heidi’s husband. “Please come forward and help us find Sherry’s killer”

Tip hotline (801) 412-3688.

History on the case

It was in South Salt Lake at what used to be Black’s bookstore that the 64 year-old was found stabbed to death on Nov. 30, 2010.  Sherry’s husband, Earl Black, discovered her and called police at 1:43 p.m. The perpetrator left behind valuable books and cash that a robber likely would have taken.

Suspect Description

According to their findings, the suspect in this case is an African-American male with brown eyes and hair. They are unable to determine things like body mass and weight. 

Take a look at some of the lab’s predictions compared to the actual suspect photos.

Reward increased

The Miller family are hoping this new information will lead them to some answers. They have increased the reward from $50,000  to $250,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible.

Tips

Anyone with information about the case can contact South Salt Lake police by calling 801-840-4000. All calls received are confidential, and callers can remain anonymous.

Tips can also be submitted through a website the family set up, Sherryblackinfo.com or through the tip line at 801-412-3688

Watch the full press conference here:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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