DOJ recognizes Unified Police detective for work on Sherry Black cold case

The U.S. Department of Justice has honored Unified Police detective Ben Pender with the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing. Photo: Unified Police Department

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 21, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The U.S. Department of Justice has honored a Unified Police detective for his role in the arrest and recent sentencing in the 2010 death of South Salt Lake bookstore owner Sherry Black.

Detective Ben Pender has received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing for the “diligent investigative work” that led to the 2020 arrest of Adam Antonio Spencer Durborow for Black’s murder nearly a decade earlier, according to a news release Monday from the Unified Police Department.

“Detective Pender is a shining example of the success of community policing programs in our nation,” U.S. Attorney Andrea T. Martinez stated in the release. “Detective Pender has worked closely with the refugee population in Utah for over a decade and has run a cold-case homicide task force, which works closely with the families of the victims of cold case homicides.”

Pender leads the Unified Police Department’s Countywide Cold Case Unit, which investigates homicides or missing persons cases believed to be homicides in Salt Lake County. He was one of 18 law enforcement officers recognized with the award.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to work on decades-old unsolved cases because I believe every family deserves to know who is responsible and for them to be held accountable for their actions,” Pender stated in the news release.

Durborow was sentenced Feb. 23 to life in prison without parole. The Orem man was arrested and charged on Oct. 26, 2020. He pleaded guilty to first-degree felony aggravated murder on Oct. 4, 2021.

Sherry Black. Photo:

Black, 64, was found dead at B&W Billiards and Books on Nov. 30, 2010. Prosecutors revealed she had been stabbed nine times.

The case went cold for nearly a decade before DNA testing linked Durborow to the murder.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera called Pender a “skilled investigator” and noted that “many families in our community have found justice because of his work.”

“Ben is also a great example of public service,” Rivera stated in the news release. “The same compassion and empathy (that) have made him a great police officer have also led him to serve his community in a variety of capacities, including working with our refugee community in Salt Lake County.”

Adam Durborow. Photo: Salt Lake County


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