SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Nearly 10 years after a shocking and baffling homicide, prosecutors charged an Orem man with aggravated murder in the death of South Salt Lake grandmother Sherry Black Monday and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill revealed how DNA evidence finally cracked this decade-long cold case.
It was November 30th, 2010 when Earl Black found his 64-year-old wife Sherry stabbed and beaten to death inside their bookstore in South Salt Lake. Police retrieved the suspect’s DNA plus fingerprints and a palm print but did not have a match in their database.
Unified Police Department investigators worked with a DNA technology company and a genealogist to narrow the search down to 29-year-old Adam Antonio Spencer Durborow. When they obtained his DNA left behind in a public place, they say it was a match.
“There is a sense of certain relief,” District Attorney Gill said. “Because when you have a murder and a murder suspect is not identified then there is always this unknown in our community so there is a great sense of relief.”
While Mr. Durborow is considered innocent until convicted, prosecutors say he admitted to detectives that he was the one who murdered Mrs. Black and provided details of the crime only the perpetrator would know. Gill explained the aggravating factor is this murder is desecration or abuse of a dead human body.
According to the probable cause statement, “The autopsy also revealed…several disfiguring…injuries of sexual nature” including “…a bite mark…sharp force injuries…bruising”
On Monday Sherry’s daughter, Heidi Miller and her husband Greg released a statement, reading in part: “We are grateful to the South Salt Lake Police Department, the Unified Police Department and Detective Ben Pender, and the Utah State Crime Lab and Jay Henry, for their ongoing investigative work and diligence that led to an arrest and charges in the murder of Sherry Black…While this 10-year period has been difficult, we have been able to feel peace and comfort knowing other cases are being solved with the use of new forensic tools.”
Veteran South Salt Lake Police Chief Jack Carruth was at the scene that day and told ABC4 News why this horrific crime has weighed on him all these years.
“It’s a mom, a grandmother, a wife,” Chief Carruth said. “Just being in the middle of it, feeling the pain of the family, the loss and quickly realizing who this individual was, who Sherry Black was. It was a senseless crime and she was very much the victim of that case and it’s hard to see that.”
District Attorney Gill emphasized that more charges may be added in the future and that the death penalty remains a possibility in this case.