9 Years After Utah Woman Was Brutally Killed in Her Bookstore, Daughter Hopes DNA Solves the Case
On the morning of November 30, 2010, Sherry Black was attending to post-Thanksgiving shoppers at the bookstore she owned, B&W Billiards and Books in Salt Lake City, Utah.
But the day took a tragic turn sometime before noon, when somebody bludgeoned and stabbed Black to death. Her body was found in the back of the store, behind stacks of books.
The violent murder devastated Black’s family, who mourned the loss of the loving mother and grandmother who greeted all her customers with a smile.
But devastation turned to frustration as investigators were unable to solve the mystery of who killed Sherry Black. There had been no forced entry. Nothing in the store was taken. She was still wearing diamond jewelry. She seemingly had no enemies.
Authorities processed the crime scene, taking fingerprints and collecting DNA. But despite law enforcement’s efforts, they were unable to match the evidence to a suspect.
Nine years later, Black’s daughter is hoping new advances in DNA processing can help solve her mother’s murder. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my mom,” Heidi Miller tells PEOPLE in its latest issue.
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To find answers, Miller has joined forces with the Institute of DNA Justice, a non-profit promoting the use of investigative genetic genealogy to solve crimes.
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Investigators will use a new technology called forensic phenotyping to create a profile for what the killer might look like. Analysts scan the DNA for markers that will give clues about the killer’s facial structure, skin, eye and hair color. Then, analysts will create snapshots based on the information.
“It’s a great tool,” says Detective Ben Pender, who is working on the case.
Miller hopes the technology will help bring closure.
“It has given me so much hope,” Miller says, “that this is how we’re going to find the person who murdered my mom.”