Community rallies around family of slain West Jordan girl
Neighbors to help remodel home where 6-year-old was abducted
WEST JORDAN — For the past 21 months, Brad and Kathy Newbold have leaned on each other, one relying on the other to pick them up when they're down.
"We have our good days and our bad days still. Some days are harder, you just don't want to get out of bed. And, other days, you just go on with life and you get the things done you need to get done," Kathy Newbold said Tuesday.
But the Newbolds have also had the incredible support of their neighborhood and their community, starting with the day the yellow police tape surrounding their house was taken down.
On June 26, 2012, their 6-year-old daughter, Sierra, was found dead in a canal near her home at 2383 W. 7095 South. She had been taken from her home, sexually assaulted, strangled and then drowned.
Terry Lee Black, 42, who lived in the young girl's neighborhood, was arrested a few days later and charged with aggravated murder. But his case has been on hold for several months pending a decision from the Utah Supreme Court as to whether a judge or a magistrate should oversee Black's mental competency hearing.
"We can't really start healing until this part of the deal is over," Brad Newbold said of the prolonged court process.
If not for the support from the community, the Newbolds say, they don't know how they would have survived. It's because of that support that the Newbolds intend to continue living in the same home from where their daughter was abducted.
"The whole community has just given us so much love and support that we just don't feel we can leave," Brad Newbold said.
"A lot of people have asked, 'So when are you guys leaving?' We've had such an outpouring of love from our friends and family, our neighbors, the community is incredible," his wife added.
Now, the community wants to give the Newbolds their "forever home" — a remodeled house that they'll "never want to leave," Kathy Newbold said.
Because the family intends to stay, neighbors have come up with a plan to completely remodel their existing house. The plan is not just for new paint and carpet, but to expand rooms and add an extension.
The bedroom, for one, where Sierra slept and from where she was abducted, will be remodeled. Today, Sierra's younger sister, Taylor — who has gone through counseling — still cannot sleep in the room. The Newbolds want to change it make it special to her.
Their kitchen will also be remodeled and will include a new table that no longer has four corners, which, her mother says, makes Sierra's empty spot at the table stand out even more.
The Newbolds will also be getting a new door, replacing the sliding glass door that Black allegedly used to enter the house and that was hauntingly still open when the family got up that morning.
"I try not to let it bother me too much, but, it's always there. I just remember coming out in the morning and that door was open. We thought one of the older kids had gone out and forgot to shut it or something. And just the memory of that morning and that door being open and me going to work and getting the phone call, 'I can't find Sierra. I can't find her,'" Brad Newbold recalled.
"It's just something you don't think you'll ever go through," added Kathy Newbold. "It doesn't happen in my life. It happens in a TV show. It was just out of a horror show that morning."
"Even after almost two years, it still doesn't seem real. She's not here, but, to me, anyway, it still feels like she's just gone visiting somewhere and she's going to come back. And it just doesn't seem real," her father said.
Not all areas of the house conjure up unhappy memories. The hallway is where Sierra's mother remembers her daughters playing and laughing, and that area will not be remodeled.
"On those days you don't want to get out of bed, you can just close your eyes and hear them running up and down the hall," she said. "That's the hardest part is seeing Taylor without that best friend."
The Newbolds also have a tree from the Festival of Trees that was created in Sierra's honor and then given to them by an anonymous donor. When her mother sees the tree, it reminds her of "the love that (Sierra) brought into everyone's life."
"She'd melt people's hearts just with her big, round eyes and her beautiful smile," she said.
Sierra had a big heart, her mother said as she fondly recalled the time the young girl was able to grow her hair long enough that she could cut it and donate it to Locks of Love.
The child loved discovering new things and the family said she would be excited about all of the changes about to happen to their home.
"As far as moving on, we're finding our new norm," Kathy Newbold said.
"You never get used to it, and you never get over it. You learn how to deal with it," her husband said.
The remodeling is expected to start in May. More information can be found at newhomefornewbolds.com.
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