(CBS) SALT LAKE CITY - It has been more than 18 months since 64-year-old Sherry Black was found beaten and stabbed to death in the small bookshop she ran beside her Utah home.
For much of her life, Black was a stay-at-home mom. She raised two kids in the house along highway 700, and helped her husband, Earl, with his pool table business. But the untimely death of her son, who according to her daughter Heidi Miller, died in an accident in 1989, sent Black searching. She ended up in bookstores and estate sales, collecting Mormon texts.
"It came so naturally to her," says Heidi Miller, 46. "She learned to spot valuable texts and slowly got good at it."
Soon, Black had turned the little shop where Earl sold pool tables into a bookstore specializing in rare religious texts. She sold online, and took appointments for customers to come by the store, which was tucked behind some trees off a busy six-lane road.
But on the snowy morning of November 30, 2010, everything changed.
"I'd been calling her all morning and she didn't pick up," says Miller. "That was strange."
Miller took her kids to school and came home to do laundry. That's when her father called.
"He said, 'Your mother has been murdered,'" she remembers.
Earl Black had found his wife, beaten and stabbed to death, in the back room of the store. She fought back, says Lt. Dwayne Ruth of the South Salt Lake police, but her attacker quickly overwhelmed her. According to Ruth, the murder did not appear to be part of a robbery, as there was still money in the till and the merchandise, which included valuable texts, was mostly untouched.
There were, however, some clues. Police found a men's Armani Exchange belt at the scene that they soon determined didn't belong to anyone in the Black family. And most promisingly, the suspect left blood, a partial fingerprint and a palm print at the scene.
Police quickly determined that the blood was from a male, but when they ran the DNA through the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) the national database that holds DNA from offenders and unidentified evidence from crime scenes, they didn't get a match. The same thing happened when they ran the fingerprints: no match.
And so the investigation slowed. The family, with help from the Larry H. Miller Group (which owns the Utah Jazz pro basketball team and was named for Heidi's husband Greg's late-father) launched a website, www.SherryBlackInfo.com. The site gives details of the crime and advertises a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Black's killer.
"I immediately thought, We'll catch this guy," remembers Miller, but 18 months later, she calls the lack of progress "very frustrating."
"I used to call Lt. Ruth at least once a week," says Miller. "But it's too draining to call him all the time and hear the same thing. 'Is there any news?' 'No.'"
But Ruth says his team is very definitely still on the case.
"This is not a cold case," says Ruth. "We're working tips daily and anything small could potentially turn into something big."
Last April, the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit consulted on the case, and in March, members of the prestigious Vidocq Society - which specializes in assisting law enforcement with unsolved cases - came to Salt Lake City to look over the evidence.
According to Ruth, Vidocq's experts agreed with his department's assessment that the suspect is likely someone who lives in or knows the area where Black was killed. The bookstore is partially hidden by trees.
"You wouldn't know it was there unless you knew it was there," says Ruth.
Now, the department is actively seeking tips from people who may have interacted with the murderer around Thanksgiving 2010.
"We know someone knows this suspect," says Ruth. "He probably sustained injuries to his hands and may have gone to the hospital or called in sick" in the days after Black's death in November 2010.
Meanwhile, Heidi Miller and her father, who lives with her, wait. But says Miller, they have not lost hope.
"It was a brutal, vicous, horrible crime and I'm scared to death that another family will have to go through what we've gone through," says Miller. "Someone who could do this could do it again."
If you have any information on the death of Sherry Black contact the South Salt Lake Police Department at (801) 412-3633