This November, it will be 10 years since Sherry Black was found dead in her South Salt Lake home and business, apparently stabbed and beaten to death.
It didn’t seem like she had been killed in a robbery gone wrong, and police found no other motives for why anyone would want to kill Black — family described her as “without an enemy in the world” — and the case eventually went cold.
On Monday, prosecutors finally had enough evidence to file charges against the person they suspect killed her that day in November 2010.
Adam Antonio Durborow, who would have been 19 at the time, is now 29 and facing a count of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony.
Black’s husband, Earl, discovered Sherry Black’s body around 1:40 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2010, at their home and business, B&W Billiards & Books. Sherry Black sold used and rare books there, and Earl Black crafted custom knives and pool tables.
According to court documents, Durborow stabbed and beat Black to death — an autopsy found at least 20 stab wounds — and police found several signs that Black also had been sexually assaulted after her death. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill would not say Monday whether or not he would seek the death penalty.
Durborow was arrested Oct. 10 in Utah County and prosecutors have been mulling over charges since then.
Yet, even with the alleged killer behind bars and charges filed, investigators at the news conference announcing their decisions refused to give many more details on why they believed Black was killed.
What Gill would focus on was the facts of the case that he alleges place Durborow at the crime scene and prove he killed Sherry Black.
“The purpose today really is to say that we have identified a very specific person," Gill said, “and as we proceed further in our judicial process, those related issues will come to light through the presentment of evidence.”
Gill said the break in the case came four years ago, after Unified police joined South Salt Lake police in the investigation, and UPD began working with Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA technology company. The company performed what is called “Snapshot DNA Phenotyping” with DNA evidence from the crime scene, and a genealogist was able to create a familial history of the assailant.
From there, UPD identified Durborow as a suspect and then “surreptitiously” obtained a sample of his DNA to compare to that left at the scene — and it matched, investigators learned this month.
Gill declined to say how police acquired the sample, but hinted that “when you and I go into public places, we leave our DNA behind.”
Court documents show that Durborow’s criminal history stretches back to his youth.
Prosecutors accused him of attempted rape of a person younger than 14 and attempted aggravated assault in May 2006, both felonies. Later court documents accuse him of committing an aggravated assault with a weapon or force just a month later.
The May 2006 offenses were pleaded down to a single count of attempted kidnapping, a third-degree felony. The other case was pleaded down to a misdemeanor count.
Court orders signed in 2008 placed Durborow in Juvenile Justice Services' custody until he was 21 or otherwise lawfully discharged. The conditions of one of those orders said Durborow was to submit a DNA sample to the courts system.
Gill would not say why that DNA sample didn’t lead investigators to Durborow sooner.
“What I can say to you is that the leads that were followed were followed in a methodical way and they were developed and corroborated," Gill said. "If there was something else that was available, it would have been executed upon.”
Durborow pleaded guilty to a shoplifting misdemeanor about a month before he was accused of killing Sherry Black, for an offense committed around the time he turned 19 in September 2010. He was later convicted of another theft he committed a little over a month after Black’s death, court records show.
Court records show he hasn’t been charged with a crime since, minus a traffic infraction in July 2019.
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.
Gill commended the police work in the case, saying investigators doggedness brought relief to the community that reeled for years after Black’s unsolved homicide and brought the family one step closer to achieving justice.
“Their professionalism and commitment, sometimes unfairly, was questioned," Gill said, "and they have performed remarkably, in terms of bringing this issue to a resolution to the point where we can identify and file our charges today.”