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DA files murder charges in 2010 death of Sherry Black

SALT LAKE CITY– The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office filed aggravated murder charges against the suspect in police custody for the murder of Sherry Black in 2010.

DA Sim Gill announced Adam Antonio Spencer Durborow, 29, faces charges of aggravated murder and desecration of a human body.

Gill says the murder charges filed in the Black case are “allegations of criminal wrongdoing” which law enforcement believes “are supported by our evidence.”

However, Gill noted under the American justice system, “there is a presumption of innocence that applies,” and said the arrest made in the Sherry Black case is no exception. 

 

Police arrested Durborow on Oct. 10 at his Orem home in connection to the murder of bookstore owner Sherry Black, the mother-in-law of former Utah Jazz CEO Greg Miller. On Nov. 5, 2010, Black was found stabbed to death inside her business.

Investigators say lab technicians, genealogists and patient detectives deserve a massive amount of credit for breaking this case. 

Charging documents say Black was stabbed at least 20 times, and there were signs of blunt force injuries on her body. Gill says there was plenty of physical evidence at B&W Billiards and Books in South Salt Lake.

“The Utah State Bureau of Forensic Services processed the scene and collected fingerprints, a palm print and DNA,” Gill said.

However, at that time, none of that evidence matched what was in the state’s felony database.  In 2016, Unified Police Detectives started working with Parabon Labs, who created a physical snapshot of a possible suspect based on the DNA that was found.  After that, genealogists were able to make a family history of their suspect.

Gill says this allowed investigators to whittle down their list of suspects, and eventually, they narrowed their search to Durborow.

(On the left, a composite of a possible suspect made by DNA phenotyping. Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News, 2017. On the right, Adam Durborow’s booking photo from his arrest in October, 2020. Credit: Salt Lake County Jail.)

“Detectives were able to surreptitiously obtain a sample of Durborow’s DNA for comparison to the DNA left at the scene,” he says.

How did they get that sample without Durborow knowing?

“I’m not going to go into the details, but, certainly what I would say to you is that when you and I go into public places, we leave out DNA behind,” said Gill. 

Charging documents say that DNA sample matched what was found inside Black’s business and on her body. Plus, Gill noted there were other pieces of evidence that made them confident Durborow killed Black.

“His fingerprints and palm print matched the bloody fingerprints and palm print collected at the scene,” he explained. 

Durborow was arrested for shoplifting months after the murder, but since it didn’t rise to the level of a felony, DNA samples weren’t taken and his DNA profile was not added to the database. 

Investigators say the silver lining to that is since his DNA wasn’t added because of any other crime, it shows Durborow didn’t re-offend.

Gill says they’re not releasing details about a possible motive, yet, but that information could come out during the preliminary hearing.

A huge relief for family and investigators

For the South Salt Lake Police Chief Jack Carruth, this was an emotional day.

“It’s a big day.  I can’t tell you how emotional I felt when I go the news, not only for all the hard work that investigators put in, but [getting] that first step of closure for the family.”

Heidi and Greg Miller, Black’s daughter and son-in-law, issued a statement, saying…

“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. We also appreciate the media for covering this case over the last 10 years, which allowed the public to share tips and new information. We especially want to thank our family and the community for their love, support and prayers. 

 “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. 

 “We will continue to work through the Sherry Black Foundation using industry experts to educate law enforcement officers on the most current investigative techniques, and also support advanced DNA testing, to help bring resolution to victims’ families. 

 “As a family, we are now asking for time and privacy.”

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