On the Case With Paula Zahn: Where and how was Sherry Black murdered?

Sherry Black
Sherry Black was found beaten and stabbed to death at a South Salt Lake City bookstore she owned (Image via The University of Utah)

Sherry Black was found murdered in a small bookstore, B&W Billiards and Books, she owned on her South Salt Lake City, Utah, property in November 2010. Sherry's husband discovered her badly beaten and stabbed body sometime in the afternoon and called 911.

Authorities failed to determine a motive, given that all the cash remained in the register and nothing of value was missing from the scene.

The case remained unsolved for nearly a decade until DNA evidence, blood, and finger and palm prints found at the crime scene led to the arrest of a suspect named Adam Durborow in October 2020. Durborow eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

ID's On the Case With Paula Zahn is slated to chronicle Sherry Black's grisly murder in an episode titled Love Lost, Justice Found. The official synopsis for the same reads:

"Will the chilling evidence found inside a quaint Utah bookstore bring the killer of its beloved owner to justice?"

The upcoming episode airs on the channel this Wednesday, July 26, at 10:00 pm ET.


DNA, blood, and other evidence found at the crime scene indicated that Sherry Black was murdered by a male killer

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According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Sherry Black's husband, Earl Black, called the police at 1:43 pm on November 30, 2010, after finding her beaten and stabbed to death. The incident occurred at a used and rare book home business called B&W Billiards & Books she owned in South Salt Lake City, Utah.

Earl had just returned home from a meeting and found the grisly crime scene before calling the police. The Cinemaholic reported that first responders located the victim's partially undressed body and the alleged murder weapon, a pair of bloody scissors, next to the body. They also found a belt at the scene.

Investigators immediately launched an investigation and believed that the attack on Sherry was random and unplanned by someone she didn't know. At the crime scene, they found lots of blood, possibly belonging to the killer who was injured, a palm print on a door frame, and a partial fingerprint on a bookshelf.

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Moreover, there were no signs of a break-in, and nothing had been stolen from the store. The cash remained in the register alongside all the other valuable items, including rare books worth thousands of dollars, that were found scattered inside the store.

An autopsy confirmed that the 64-year-old was stabbed in the head, neck, and torso at least 15 times. The medical examiner also reported that she was s*xually assaulted. The blood and the belt found at the scene indicated a male donor. However, the DNA and fingerprint failed to produce results initially when uploaded on CODIS.


A decade later, investigators made an arrest in Sherry Black's murder using DNA samples from the crime scene

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Investigators combed the nearby areas and businesses, looking for surveillance footage and potential witnesses. Security cameras outside the store captured Sherry Black's husband, Earl, leaving before 9:30 that morning, only to return in the afternoon. He also had a solid alibi and was ruled out as a suspect.

Earl Black did mention a book dealer who was scheduled to meet Sherry that morning. This individual, however, claimed he was late for the meeting and had informed the victim about the delay over a call that same morning.

The dealer claimed that he arrived at the bookstore sometime around 10:30 am, waited for over a half hour, and left after failing to reach her. He was initially declared a person-of-interest but was also ruled out once his DNA and fingerprints failed to match those found at the scene.

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Sherry's murder went unsolved for a decade until 2020, when investigators, with the aid of Parabon NanoLabs, utilized phenotyping and Investigative Genetic Genealogy and linked the killer to a Sacramento-based family and ultimately to Adam Durborow, whose DNA sample was a match. He was arrested on October 10, 2020, and charged with aggravated murder.

Durborow was only 19 years old when he committed the crime and told investigators that he was angry the day he murdered Sherry Black on the spur of the moment. The accused pleaded guilty in October 2021 and was sentenced to life without parole the following February.


Learn more about the case on ID's On the Case With Paula Zahn this Wednesday.

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Edited by Dev Sharma