Family seeks help in slaying of Jazz exec’s in-law

One year after the death of Utah Jazz executive Greg Miller’s

mother-in-law, her family still struggles to explain her unsolved

murder but finds comfort in surrounding themselves with the books

she loved so much.

Sherry Black, 64, was found stabbed to death inside her South

Salt Lake book shop Nov. 30, 2010. A year later, police still have

no suspects and no apparent motive for the murder.

”It’s hard to come here and know what when on,” Black’s

daughter, Heidi Miller, said of her mother’s B&W Billiards and

Books shop.

”At the same time, we know that she touched every one of these

books. It was something she loved,” Miller said. ”As hard as the

memories are – you know, the bad things that happened here – it’s a

bookstore filled with love.”

Black’s family plans to mark the anniversary of her death with a

public graveside memorial service Wednesday at Wasatch Lawn

Memorial Park in Salt Lake City.

The family reopened her bookstore Monday for a news conference

aimed at publicizing the unsolved case. They hope to have the

business running again on a limited basis by the start of the new

year.

South Salt Lake police have been tight-lipped about details of

their evidence in the case, but have said DNA testing on blood

found at the scene indicates a male suspect was possibly injured

during the incident. Investigators have run the sample through

various criminal databases but have found no DNA match, said Gary

Keller, executive officer for the department.

Investigators also found a black men’s Armani Exchange-brand

belt in the bookstore and believe it might link them to the person

or persons responsible. The belt does not belong to anyone in

Black’s family, police have said.

”We need that one piece of information that is going to pull

all the pieces of the puzzle together,” Keller said. ”We don’t

have a motive. It’s a mystery, but we want to bring the family

closure.”

On Monday, Earl Black declined to discuss the details of the day

he found his wife of 45 years dead in the store.

”It’s not something I want to get into,” he said politely,

pursing his lips. ”It was a hard day.”

Asked if he has any theories about what happened to his wife,

Earl Black shakes his head and shrugs.

”We’re still searching for the answer. Till we find the guy, we

won’t know why or what made him do it,” he said. ”It’s just one

big question. Who would do something so horrible?”

Books were Sherry Black’s first love and – besides raising her

family – her life’s work, family members said. Sherry and Earl

Black opened the business, which is adjacent to their home, as a

billiard and bowling supply store in about 1975, but the books took

over in the late 1980s.

”She pushed me out, so basically, I turned it over to her and

helped her where I could,” Earl Black said. ”She’d get up in the

morning and come out here in her pajamas and get on the computer.

… She would spend all day here.”

Along with the rows and rows of bookshelves, Sherry Black’s

store has wooden walls adorned with animal trophy heads, family

photos and treasures like bottles of buttons, which she loved to

collect. Heidi Miller said the inventory today tops 100,000 volumes

from all genres, including Mormon history and scripture, classic

literature and children’s books, which were Sherry Black’s

favorite.

Police and Sherry Black’s family say it doesn’t appear anything

was taken from the store, although it’s difficult to be sure

because Sherry Black kept the inventory data in her head, not on a

computer. Earl Black said no cash was taken from the store’s

register and the store did not appear to have been ransacked.

Sherry Black’s family has offered a $50,000 reward for

information leading to an arrest and conviction.

They’ve also set up a website to take tips. And they’ve posted

billboards with Sherry Black’s picture around the Salt Lake Valley,

each asking the same question: ”Do you know my killer?” In the

photograph, a smiling Sherry Black has her fists up as if she’s

preparing to throw a punch.

”We need to find the person that did this. He’s out there

endangering other people,” said Miller. ”What he did was a

horrible crime, and he needs to be caught before he can do this to

somebody else.”

Jennifer Dobner can be reached at

http://www.twitter.com/JenniferDobner.