Details of the Crime
About the Crime
- Black, 64, was found beaten and stabbed to death in her business and home, B&W Billiards & Books at 3466 S. 700 East, on November 30 at approximately 1:43 p.m.
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- South Salt Lake police spokesman Gary Keller said there was no doubt that Black was the victim of a homicide. “This was definitely a stabbing,” he said, but would not release further details about the slaying.
- The husband discovered her,” said Keller. “It’s a residence with a business next door, and he walked into the business and discovered her body.”
- “[The call] came in through the 911 emergency line. We had a 64-year-old woman that was discovered lying on the floor of the business and she was deceased from an obvious stab wound,” said Sgt. Gary Keller of the South Salt Lake police department.
- Detectives with the South Salt Lake Police Department combed the home-based business for clues, but are releasing very little information.
- “The evidence is going to be paramount in this case, so we want to proceed cautiously,” Keller said.
- Police launched a homicide investigation and canvassed the neighborhood near the business asking residents if they saw or heard anything unusual.
- Black’s husband spent a good portion of the night at police headquarters being questioned by police. That is standard operating procedure in cases like this.
- The South Salt Lake Police department is still looking for clues and a motive.
- “We actually need help from viewers to help us with this case,” said Sgt. Keller. “What we’re asking for is, if anyone was traveling on 700 East on November 30, in the area of the crime scene between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., if anybody saw anything suspicious, a car speeding away, someone running down the sidewalk, anything no matter how minute, we’d like to hear about that.”
- “We have recovered a lot of forensic evidence, and that is in the process of being sent to the lab and being processed for evidence,” said Sgt. Gary Keller with the South Salt Lake Police Department. “We’re very anxious to get the results back from that.”
- The Armani Exchange belt was found Nov. 30 beside the body of Sherry Black, police said. Photographs supplied by the police department show “AX” on the buckle and the numbers 323 on a sticker on the buckle’s back side. A South Salt Lake police news release said the numbers could be from a store or thrift shop. The waist measurement of the person that wore the belt is approximately 36 to 38 inches. The markings on the front of the belt buckle display the trademark letters “AX” while the back of the belt buckle reveals a sticker with the printed numbers “323,” which police believe may be an item or inventory number for a clothing store or thrift shop. The belt does not belong to anyone in the Black family.
- “We don’t know if anything is missing from the book store,” Keller said. “We’ve been through that store and as you can imagine there are thousands of books. The problem is Sherry Black kept the inventory in her head.”
- The case can use more exposure because the killer may have left the state.
- What’s most baffling to police is that there seemed to be no signs of robbery at the scene of the crime. There are thousands and thousands of books – piles of them everywhere. There was money in the cash register that was left and plenty of things of value that could have been taken, but weren’t.
- Greg Miller said, “One little piece of information, that when we know about it, could connect other pieces of information and be one of the key pieces of the puzzle that is missing.”
About the Bookstore
- Sherry and Earl lived at this location for 37 years.
- The business is tucked back on a busy eight-lane highway. Sherry definitely flew under the radar and wasn’t as well advertised as the established stores downtown.
- She sold used and rare books, including some old Latter-day Saint books and manuscripts, as well as modern literature. Some items in her store were worth a few dollars, others worth thousands.
- She had a lot of repeat customers, people who sold books to her because she was fair.
- She’s been selling books for 10 years. She would visit every (Deseret Industries) every morning, buy books for a quarter and sell them on Amazon.com. Black and her husband had to add on to their house when her collection of books outgrew the space they had.
- Jim Waycasy (Sherry’s brother) said Sherry Black’s used book shop was a successful business. She sold books, mostly Mormon texts and children’s books, all over the world, he said. She began the business years ago by going to thrift stores and estate sales looking for books. On her Amazon page, Sherry Black was selling a hardcover edition of The Grapes of Wrath for a starting price of $2,750.
- Sherry Black’s business was largely by appointment only.
- Earl Black makes custom knives and pool tables at the business.
- Earl and Sherry Black ran B&W Billiards and Books from a building next to their home.
- Because of the shop’s residential locale, Sherry didn’t receive too many visitors, allowing her to shut down shop when needed to run errands or go off exploring in search of new literary treasures.
- Black’s online sales at B&W Collector Books on Amazon.com includes a listing of hundreds of books. Many are of interest to an LDS audience but the overall collection includes a broad range of topics. One standout is a hardback copy of “The Grapes of Wrath” listed for $2,750. A few books approach the $300 mark but most are well under $100.
- It is not uncommon for small bookstore owners to keep few, if any, records of inventory.
- Salt Lake bookseller Ken Sanders, who has been in the rare book business for more than 30 years, knew Black professionally. He said she was “industrious” and would work hard to locate rare finds, but he couldn’t believe she would have been killed over a book. “I don’t think a book lover murdered Sherry Black,” he said. “Book lovers don’t do these untoward things. I would imagine a ne’er-do-well drug-doer went in there looking for something to steal. This doesn’t happen in the book trade. Period.” He said it’s an industry that is built on trust, but that it has its “dark side,” especially as the price of some LDS books has risen to six figures. “They can be worth a lot of money,” he said. “But whether it was something random or whether she was targeted, I don’t have a clue. It’s just so bizarre.”
About Sherry and Earl
- Black’s sister, Debbie Waycasy, said Sherry and her brother-in-law, Earl, had been married since high school and had a very loving relationship.
- Neighbors say that their house is always quiet. They seemed to be liked by everybody.
- “Sherry is quiet, you’ll hear that from people,” said Curt Bench of Benchmark Books. “Very unassuming, kind and friendly, though, and really knew her stuff. She knew books, she was successful at what she did. She had a good reputation in the trade for being honest and having integrity.”
- Black’s brother, Jim Waycasy, said he is unaware of anyone who would want to kill his sister. He described her as likable and a grandmother who was very involved with her family. He said her business mostly involved book sales online. He never heard her talk about troublesome business or personal relationships.
- Black’s sister said, “There was nothing to insinuate that kind of crime in her life or in her business of in any way, shape or form.”
About the Neighborhood
- Even in a neighborhood that business owners say has seen a recent spike in criminal activity, Black’s death has been a shock. Jim Rollins owns the Beltone Hearing Aid Center, which is located on 3300 South around the corner from the Black’s store. (make this one bullet point, not two) Rollins said he has owned the business for four years and always thought it to be a quiet area in a good location. But he said there have been a number of “smash and grab” robberies in the neighborhood as of late. “About the last two months, it’s like all the sudden something happened,” he said. “I’d say once a week there are cops in front of people’s businesses when I’m driving into work in the morning. Something changed.”
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