Police have made an arrest in a 10-year-old cold case, the stabbing death of South Salt Lake City bookseller Sherry Black.
Salt Lake County’s Unified Police Department announced that a suspect was arrested in Black’s death on Saturday morning. The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office will screen the case starting Tuesday, Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said Saturday.
On Nov. 30, 2010, police investigated a call to B&W Billiards & Books, the business Black and her husband, Earl, ran out of their house in South Salt Lake City. Earl Black called the police at 1:43 p.m., after he found his wife’s body in the home. Police said she had been stabbed and beaten.
Sherry Black sold used and rare books from the couple’s home business, while Earl made custom knives and pool tables.
There were no signs of a robbery, and no obvious motive, Saturday’s statement from Unified Police said, so the case went cold.
The UPD statement gave no details about the suspect, pending review by the DA’s office. The Tribune does not generally name suspects before they are formally charged.
The statement did mention that “solving cold cases like this one is possible, in part, due to technological advancements” — and the UPD listed Parabon Nanolabs alongside the South Salt Lake Police, the DA’s office and Utah Crime Lab as entities who aided in resolving the case.
Rivera singled out the UPD’s Cold Case Unit, which took over the case in 2018, for its work.
Rivera said that in solving cold cases, “we can bring a little bit of closure to the families. … It takes a lot out of them, not knowing if the individual is still out there, [where they may be] going to hurt someone else.”
Karra Porter, co-founder of the Utah Cold Case Coalition, congratulated the law enforcement agencies “for sticking with this case.”
Porter noted that “advances in DNA are going to close more and more of these cases.” In the United States, she said, there are more than 200,000 unsolved homicides, and “many of them can now be solved with DNA as well as traditional legwork.”
Black was the mother-in-law of Greg Miller, who was then the CEO of the Utah Jazz. The Jazz observed a moment of silence for Black before a game the day after she was killed.
“She was a 64-year-old lady, unarmed, without an enemy in the world. Everybody loved her, and someone came in and brutally murdered her,” Greg Miller said in 2012.
Black’s death became well-known within Utah’s cold-case community. The Vidocq Society, a club in Philadelphia that examines old killings, took a look into the case in 2012 — the same year a $100,000 reward was offered for information leading to the killer’s arrest and conviction.
In 2017, Heidi Miller — Black’s daughter, and Greg Miller’s wife — formed a foundation to fund a police training symposium, aimed at teaching techniques to prevent such cases from going cold.
In 2019, on the ninth anniversary of her mother’s death, Heidi Miller led about two dozen friends and family members to Black’s grave in a Millcreek cemetery, to remember her and keep her case in the public eye.
“After nine years, I have hope,” Heidi Miller said then. “I know that, someday, I will get that call.”