Sherry Black's murder: 5 shocking details about the case

Sherry Black
Sherry Black's husband found her dead inside the bookstore in November 2010 (Image via The Sherry Black Foundation)

Sherry Black owned a quaint, used, and rare bookstore called B&W Billiards & Books, located on her South Salt Lake City, Utah, property. Inside the same store, the 64-year-old was found beaten and stabbed to death in late November 2010. The grisly crime scene bore signs of s*xual assault, but the incident was not a break-in, and nothing had been stolen.

The case remained a mystery for about a decade until DNA from blood collected from the scene was used to link the murder to a 29-year-old man named Adam Durborow, who was arrested in October 2020. Durborow was only 19 when he committed the crime and was just out of juvenile detention. He later pleaded guilty to the crime.

The former cold case of Sherry Black is scheduled to be revisited on ID's On the Case With Paula Zahn in an all-new episode titled Love Lost, Justice Found. The upcoming episode will air on the channel at 10:00 pm ET this Wednesday, July 26.

An 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?"

Sherry Black's murder: A grisly crime, key pieces of evidence, and delayed justice, among other details

1) Sherry was found murdered inside the bookstore she owned

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The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Sherry Black was found murdered by her husband Earl Black inside her bookstore called B&W Billiards & Books, located on her South Salt Lake City, Utah, property, on November 30, 2010. Earl had returned home at 1:18 pm after a meeting and called 911 at 1:43 pm after discovering the grisly crime scene.

Sherry had been viciously beaten and stabbed to death, possibly by a pair of scissors, which was found covered in blood next to her body when first responders arrived. A subsequent autopsy confirmed that she had been stabbed at least 15 times in the neck, head, and torso. The medical examiner reported that she was also s*xually assaulted.


2) Evidence discovered at the crime scene comprised unknown male DNA

When first responders arrived at the crime scene, they found the alleged murder weapon—a pair of bloody scissors—right next to Sherry Black's partially undressed body. They also found an Armani belt at the crime scene, which suggested that the killer was male. Along with the belt, they found significant amounts of blood, likely belonging to the man who was wounded.

Authorities also found a partial fingerprint on a bookshelf and a bloody palm print on the exit door. However, they failed to notice any signs of a break-in. Moreover, nothing was reported stolen from the bookstore. All the cash remained in the register, and rare books worth thousands of dollars lay scattered across the scene.


3) Initial suspects included Sherry Black's husband and a book dealer

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Investigators combed through the area, looking for surveillance footage from nearby stores and potential witnesses. They started looking into Sherry's husband, Earl Black, and using surveillance footage from security cameras outside the bookstore, they found that he left home before 9:30 that morning and only returned in the afternoon, shortly before making the 911 call. He also had a rock-solid alibi.

Earl, however, mentioned that Sherry was scheduled to meet a book dealer that morning. The dealer in question alleged that there was a delay, and he had already informed the victim about it on a call. He claimed to have arrived at the store sometime around 10:30 am and waited for over a half hour, and left when he failed to get in touch with the owner.


4) DNA evidence led to an arrest about a decade later

Sherry Black's case initially went cold when the DNA evidence and fingerprint failed to produce results after being uploaded on CODIS. Moreover, South Salt Lake Police Department investigators failed to establish a murder motive. Then, in 2013, the Cold Case Unit joined the investigation and made significant progress by 2018.

Eventually, investigators partnered with Parabon NanoLabs and utilized phenotyping and Investigative Genetic Genealogy to locate potential suspects. This discovery led them to 29-year-old Adam Durborow. His DNA sample was discretely taken from a discarded item and matched with the one found at the crime scene. He was arrested on October 10, 2020.


5) Adam Durborow admitted to murdering Sherry out of anger and pleaded guilty

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After his arrest, Adam Durborow, who was 19 years old when he committed Sherry Black's murder, admitted that he had no plans to murder the 64-year-old bookstore owner. Durborow claimed he was angry when he walked into the store that day and murdered her on the spur of the moment. The teen was released from juvenile detention before the murder.

In October 2021, Durborow pleaded guilty to an aggravated murder charge and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


On the Case With Paula Zahn airs with a new episode this Wednesday on ID.

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Edited by Babylona Bora