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Utah police make arrest in decade-old Sherry Black murder case

By Art Raymond, KSL | Updated - Oct. 10, 2020 at 7:58 p.m. | Posted - Oct. 10, 2020 at 2:57 p.m.


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SOUTH SALT LAKE — An arrest has been made in connection with the nearly decade-old murder of Sherry Black who was beaten and stabbed to death at her business in South Salt Lake.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said 29-year-old Adam Durborow was arrested without incident at his Orem home Saturday by Unified Police Department officers.

He was booked into Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated murder and aggravated burglary, according to a police affidavit. He is being held without bail.

Rivera said she was unable to offer further details about how Durborow was identified as a suspect in the case, including if DNA or other evidence gathered from the crime scene played a role or whether or not a tip from the public assisted investigators.

Rivera said the case will be screened for charges by Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill on Tuesday.

According to the police booking affidavit, on Oct. 7 DNA was collected from Durborow and submitted to the Utah Bureau of Forensic Services and a match was found with DNA collected from the scene of Black’s murder in 2010.

The affidavit also states that Durborow confessed to the homicide after he was notified of his Miranda rights.

A spokeswoman for Black’s family said Saturday the family was aware of the arrest but likely would not issue a comment or statement until next week.

On Nov. 30, 2010, Black, 64, the mother-in-law of former Larry H. Miller Group CEO Greg Miller, was found stabbed to death inside her bookstore, B&W Billiards and Books at 3466 S. 700 East. To date, there has been no known motive for the killing, and until the arrest Saturday, police had not identified a suspect or a person of interest in the case.

The only pieces of evidence investigators have shared with the public over the years are an Armani Exchange men’s belt found at the crime scene with a waist measurement of approximately 36-38 inches and a sticker on the back of the buckle with the number “323,” and blood that was collected from the scene.

DNA testing determined the blood came from a male. That DNA was run through a national criminal database, but as of a report issued several years ago by investigators, no match was found, meaning the killer had not committed another violent crime since Black’s death, had fled the country or was dead.

Court documents show that Durborow pled guilty to shoplifting charges on two occasions, once in the fall of 2010 just weeks before Black’s death and again in early 2011 a couple months after the murder. While Utah law calls for collection of DNA samples from those convicted of felonies and class A misdemeanors, shoplifting is a class B misdemeanor and Durborow’s DNA was not collected and never became part of any law enforcement database.

The Unified police agency was invited to support the investigation into Black’s death in 2013 by the South Salt Lake Police Department and became the lead investigating agency in 2018. Since that time, UPD reports it has collaborated to review the evidence, find new leads, and interview witnesses. The department said that work over the last 10 years led to Saturday’s arrest.

In 2017, investigators put their evidence through the DNA phenotyping process using the Virginia-based company Parabon-Nanolabs. Phenotyping predicts a person’s physical appearance and ancestry using genetic codes. Based on that information, researchers can predict skin color, hair color, eye color and facial structure using percentages.

In the Black case, researchers put together three snapshot composites of the person who may have killed her based on the genetic composition of the DNA sample. The snapshot composites are what the man may have looked like at ages 25, 38 and 52. It’s not clear if the effort played any role in the arrest of Durborow on Saturday.

Last November, members of Black’s family gathered to remember her passing and continue calls for assistance in finding her killer.

At the time, Black’s daughter, Heidi Miller encouraged anyone with knowledge of the case to come forward.

“I just think it’s important after nine years to keep her in our memory, to think about her, to remember the good times we had with her, and show how much we miss her,” Miller said at the time. “I also think it’s important to keep it out there in the public, so anybody that knows anything, has any information about her murder might come forward.”

The family had also offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Black’s killer.

Correction: An earlier version misspelled Adam Durborow’s last name.

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