One year after killing, Sherry Black's family hopes to reopen bookstore

Published: Monday, Nov. 28 2011 2:00 p.m. MST

Heidi Miller and Earl Black embrace at the B&W Billiards and Books bookstore where Sherry Black, Earl's wife and Heidi's mother, was brutally killed almost one year ago on Monday, Nov. 28, 2011.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SOUTH SALT LAKE — Sherry Black had about 100,000 books in her store. And at some point, she had held every single one of them.

Her bookstore, B&W Billiards and Books, 3466 S. 700 East, has been closed for a year since she was found brutally killed inside the store on Nov. 30, 2010.

Now, as family members mark the one-year anniversary of her death on Wednesday, her husband is preparing to reopen the store, possibly by the beginning of the year. He admits he thought about selling the business. But because of his wife's love of books, "I just knew I had to keep it," Earl Black said.

In an effort to remind the public that the person who killed Sherry Black is still at large, Earl Black and their daughter, Heidi Miller, allowed the media inside the closed bookstore Monday for the first time since their loved one's death.

It was a year ago that Black, 64, the mother-in-law of Larry H. Miller Group CEO Greg Miller, was found stabbed to death. Despite high-profile billboards on I-15, a $50,000 reward and a mention on America's Most Wanted, investigators were still seeking tips Monday that would help them solve the case.

One of the clues left at the crime scene on the day of the killing includes an Armani Exchange men's belt with a waist measurement of approximately 36-38 inches, and a sticker on the back of the buckle with the number "323." Detectives also found blood that DNA testing has determined came from a male.

There were no signs of a crime scene inside the small building Monday. Rather, there was the warm charm of a small ma and pa store with a wide collection of books about the Southwest, children's books and LDS books, which were the store's biggest sellers, according to Earl Black.

Framed pictures of Sherry Black were hung on the wall and on bookshelves. A small notebook that Black wrote in is now kept in a glass case next to the front counter. The book is opened to a page with Black's handwriting from September of 2009. In the small note, Black talks about a birthday trip she took with her family to Shanghai.

"I don't remember ever having a nicer birthday," she wrote.

The notebook was discovered by Black's family after her death.

Monday, Earl Black talked about the beginning of the bookstore and how it started out as Billiards and Bowling Supply in 1974. "As we progressed through the years, Sherry's love of books turned into a bookstore, and she pushed me out," he said jokingly.

Sherry's love for books started when she was just a little girl and would go to the library and sit in a circle and have books read to her.

"She told me she would go to the library every day, read it, then go back the next day and get another book," Heidi Miller recalled.

She said her mother especially loved children's books. But she also liked the classics, including Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and "To Kill A Mockingbird."

The Blacks lived in the house adjacent to the bookstore. Earl Black said it wasn't uncommon for his wife to spend most of the day in the store.

"She'd get up in the morning and come out here in her pajamas, turn on the computer and start looking at stuff. She'd spend all day here," he said.

Even though he is in the store almost every day preparing for its reopening, Black admitted it was hard to walk into it at first, knowing what had happened. But Miller said ultimately, the family knew that it was also a "bookstore filled with love" that her mother had put so much effort into building.

The hardest part about preparing to reopen the store is figuring out where everything went.

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