We anticipate it will take us a very long time to fully come to terms with what has occurred. —Brad Newbold
WEST JORDAN — The family of 6-year-old Sierra Newbold said they are "still trying to comprehend and reconcile" what happened to their loved one.
In an open letter to the media, Brad Newbold, the father of the girl prosecutors said was kidnapped from her home, sexually assaulted and forcibly drowned two weeks ago, offered the first public statement from the family since a man from their neighborhood was arrested and charged in her death.
"We anticipate it will take us a very long time to fully come to terms with what has occurred," Newbold wrote. "The time is still not right for us, and we do not wish to talk about Sierra’s death in public. This remains an extremely private matter for our family, and we still wish to continue our grieving in private."
Newbold expressed gratitude for the West Jordan Police Department and veteran detective James Bigelow, whose sharp eyes and deductions are being credited for cracking the case. The family also thanked the public for its continued support.
Terry Lee Black, 41, was arrested and charged Tuesday in Third District Court with aggravated murder, child kidnapping and rape of a child. Black lived in the apartment complex around the corner from the Newbolds' home.
Wednesday, Brad Newbold said his family offered their "sympathy to the Black family during this sad time since they too are grieving a loss. We want everyone to plainly understand that we hold no animosity in our hearts toward Terry Black’s wife and children. We fully recognize that they played no part in this tragedy, and hope that the community and the media will be sensitive to their pain and gentle in their treatment of them."
The details of Sierra's death and the detective work that led to the arrest of Black were released Tuesday, connecting Black to an attempted bank heist and theft of a vehicle. But many questions remain unanswered. Neither police nor prosecutors have revealed how or why Black targeted Sierra, or if she was a random victim.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office said Black entered the Newbold home through a sliding glass door at 3:05 a.m. on June 26 and left "carrying something" eight minutes later. This information was gathered from the home's video surveillance camera. It was unknown Wednesday whether Black had made previous attempts to enter the home or how familiar he was with the Newbold house.
Black is now being investigated for other possible crimes.
West Jordan Police Sgt. Drew Sanders confirmed Wednesday that his department had been contacted by other law enforcement agencies who were looking into whether Black could be linked to any of their outstanding crimes.
Black's attorney, Ariel Chino, said he wanted to speak to his client first before making a statement regarding the latest charges. An initial appearance was scheduled for Thursday afternoon on Black's robbery charge.
Black has an extensive criminal history for alcohol-related crimes along with burglary and sometimes would be away from his family for days.
On March 5, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and intoxication.
On March 20, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor burglary of a vehicle in exchange for additional counts of burglary of a vehicle, criminal mischief and intoxication dismissed.
On March 26, he pleaded guilty to DUI in a case out of Kanab. And on June 4 he was found guilty of intoxication.
For awhile, Black also lived in Arizona. He and his wife reportedly moved back to Utah about eight years ago.
Elden Thomas lived in the same apartment complex as Black and his family and was the property manager when they first moved in. He said he was shocked when he heard Black was arrested for investigation of murder.
"My heart, my mouth, everything just dropped when I looked and seen it was Terry," he said. "I'm just plain shocked."
Thomas said Black would go on drinking binges, sometimes for weeks at a time.
"Terry would go on his binges. He go for three or four weeks. Then he'd come back," he said. "He'd go and get drunk and be gone for weeks on end, and then he'd come strolling back."
Black's wife was apparently accustomed to his binges. When she recently asked Thomas if he had seen him, he told her "No," and she assumed he was "on another one of his binges," Thomas said.
But she, too, was shocked when she heard about his arrest. Thomas said Black's wife was at work when other employees watched the district attorney's news conference on TV Tuesday announcing the charges.
"She's still stunned. She's still real numb," he said.
Although he would go on drinking binges, Thomas said violence wasn't something he believed Black would do.
"He wasn't violent. That's what I can't figure out," he said. "We've got tons of kids here. And I can't figure why is the reason he picked out the Newbold girl. Maybe he sat by her in church."
Black does have a history of violence, in addition to alcohol abuse.
He was placed on probation under the supervision of the Utah Department of Corrections from 1991 to 1993 for a conviction of assault on a police officer.
On July 6, 1991, an intoxicated 19-year-old Black broke out all the windows of a home in Richfield, according to Richfield police. The responding officer found Black hiding in the rafters of a nearby shed. While trying to take Black into custody, he was cut with a knife that Black was using to fight off police.
The officer, who now works for Unified Police, was not seriously injured.
Also in 1991, he paid a fine for disorderly conduct, according to court records. In October of that year, he pled guilty to felony drug distribution, court records state.
In 2006, Black pleaded guilty to attempted forgery and intoxication, according to court records. But as part of the plea deal, a lewdness charge was dismissed.