After two weeks with no answers, a suspect has been charged with the death of Utah girl Sierra Newbold, 6, whose body was found floating face down in a canal on June 26. Thanks to the adept work of the West Jordan Police Department, Terry Lee Black, 41, was charged Tuesday. According to West Jordan Police Chief Douglas Diamond, Black was arrested on June 29 after robbing a Wells Fargo bank and trying to take off in a stolen car. When he was apprehended, police noticed that he lived close to the canal where Sierra’s body was found, and that debris on his pants matched the soot from a fire that had happened in the area. Later, said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, Sierra’s DNA was found on Black’s body. Black was charged with aggravated murder, child kidnapping and rape of a child Tuesday and remains in custody.
Sierra’s mother called police in the morning when she saw that her daughter was missing and that a sliding door had been opened. Sierra’s body was found a half hour later; her pajamas were discovered in a nearby field. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.
Black, who attended the same Mormon church as the Newbold family, has a history of substance abuse and crime. His landlord, Eldon Thomas, told Fox 13, that Black is not sociable and has a tendency to go on drinking binges. He’d been arrested for car theft, burglary and lewdness in the past.
Following news of Black’s arrest, the Newbold family issued a statement thanking the police department for their work and showing support to Black’s wife and children in their difficult time:
“At this time we want to express our gratitude to the West Jordan Police Department, and especially Detective James Bigelow, for the marvelous police work that brought the pieces together that connected Terry Lee Black with the murder of Sierra. This has allowed at least a small measure of closure for our family. We also wish to thank our family, friends, community members, and even total strangers who have offered love, prayers, and support for our family.
We offer our 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.
We are still trying to comprehend and reconcile the newly revealed developments in the case. We anticipate it will take us a very long time to fully come to terms with what has occurred. Therefore, we are continuing with our earlier decision not to provide interviews or make further public statements at this time. 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. Thank you for continuing to respect our wishes.”