Police identify suspect in murder of West Jordan girl

Posted at 10:16 AM, Jul 10, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-11 14:20:34-04

WEST JORDAN, Utah -- A man has been arrested in connection with the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of 6-year-old Sierra Newbold.

Terry Lee Black, 41, has been arrested and charged with aggravated murder, child kidnapping and rape of a child, all first-degree felonies. Police and prosecutors announced the arrest and charges at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

According to charging documents filed on Tuesday, Kathleen Newbold last saw her daughter, Sierra, around 10:30 p.m. on June 25. The following morning, she noticed a sliding door at her home was open and Sierra was not in her bedroom. Newbold reported Sierra as a missing child at 7:45 a.m., Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said.

[Read the charging documents against Terry Black (PDF)]

"Police reviewed the tape from a video camera mounted on the Newbold home," police wrote in a probable cause statement filed with the charges. "The camera showed the back of the home from the southeast corner toward the sliding glass door. The video tape showed the form of an individual entering the home through the area of the sliding glass door at 3:05 a.m. and exiting, apparently carrying something, at 3:13 a.m."

Gill said police discovered Sierra's pink pajama bottoms and underwear in a "burnt out field" a short distance from Sierra's home. Her body was found in a canal. An autopsy revealed Sierra had been raped, strangled and dumped in the canal where she drowned.

Authorities said Black lived near the Newbold family, attending the same church as Sierra. Police came into contact with him while investigating a stolen car report and a bank robbery near 8000 South Redwood Road.

According to charges filed in connection with the robbery, police said a friend of a woman who reported her Jeep stolen spotted it at the bank. She confronted Black as he was leaving the Wells Fargo Bank branch. Police also responded and learned Black had been accused of holding up the bank.

"It was the astuteness of these officers to be able to respond and notice the physical appearance of the person before them," Gill told reporters Tuesday.

West Jordan Police Chief Douglas Diamond said investigators did not believe Black had changed his clothes in the days since Sierra's murder.

"His hands and knees were blackened by what we believe was the charcoal on the field," he said. "The debris left on the field."

Black remained in the Salt Lake County Jail on Tuesday in lieu of $2 million bail. He is expected to make a court appearance on Thursday.

Diamond said it was a miracle that police were able to put the case together so quickly.

"I myself believe it was divine intervention," he said.

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