Former landlord: Black had a history of alcohol abuse

Posted at 8:21 PM, Jul 10, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-10 22:48:49-04

WEST JORDAN, Utah – The man accused of sexually abusing and killing 6-year-old Sierra Newbold had a history of drugs and alcohol, but one man who knew him says he didn’t expect him to be suspected of committing such a crime.

Terry Lee Black, 41, has been arrested and charged with aggravated murder, child kidnapping and rape of a child, all first-degree felonies, in connection with the June death of 6-year-old Sierra Newbold.

Eldon Thomas, Black’s former apartment manager, says he’s known Black since he rented an apartment to him and his family in 2005.

Thomas says that Black wasn’t very sociable and had a tendency to abuse alcohol. Black’s drinking binges have put a strain on his wife and two kids, but he says Terry would always return.

“He’s not a very sociable guy. He’s not the type of person that comes out and mingles with everybody,” said Thomas. “He drinks and he goes overboard when he goes on his binges, he’s gone for five or six weeks. He’s done that quite a bit since he’s been here.”

Black has a criminal history, with arrests for things like car theft and burglary, and one lewdness charge. Thomas is aware of Black’s past, but he was shocked that he is now the prime suspect in the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sierra Newbold.

“Nobody knows how many kids are in this complex let alone how many are in the area. So yeah, I’m really surprised,” said Thomas.

Thomas says he last saw Black on a Sunday, roughly two weeks before Sierra’s disappearance. He now wonders whether Black went on another drinking binge prior to allegedly killing Sierra.

“If you got a personality that’s already got mood problems and you put those together that’s just lighting a bomb. He’s capable of doing anything at that time,” he said.

Black now sits in the Salt Lake County Jail on $2 million bail.

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