Plano murder suspect survived perilous jump at Grand Canyon

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on April 24, 2011 at 2:10 AM

Updated Sunday, Apr 24 at 6:27 PM

Suspect captured

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GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Arizona — Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park are amazed that Terrance Black is alive.

Black, the subject of a manhunt by Plano police in connection with the murder of 40-year-old Susan Loper, had driven more than 1,000 miles from Frisco to the majestic park in northern Arizona on Friday.

He parked his black Cadillac Escalade at an overlook on the canyon's south rim near a formation known as Duck-on-a-Rock.

Visitors told park rangers that Black, 48, was panhandling.

When rangers arrived to check around 1:45 p.m. Friday, they said they asked Black to identify himself; he refused.

Officials said Black then ran and leaped from the edge of the canyon, falling 25 feet to a ledge below.

That saved his life.

"Yeah, he was desperate," said Grand Canyon visitor Jeremy Hudson. "He had to have been desperate if he was jumping off a cliff like that."

Park visitors said Black was extremely fortunate for surviving the fall. Another few feet and it would have been straight down to the floor of the canyon — 4,600 feet below.

"It's a miracle... big time," said tourist Daniel Kopsco. "He was really lucky to stop after only 25 feet."

Black remained at Flagstaff Medical Center Saturday night. He was taken there by helicopter ambulance on Friday after being rescued from the canyon. His condition is guarded.

Once he's released from the hospital, Black will be transferred to Coconino County Jail, where he will remain in custody until he is extradited back to Texas.

Plano detectives and Texas Rangers are already in Arizona. They will comb through Black's vehicle looking for evidence and also hope to speak with him regarding the capital murder charge he now faces.

Susan Loper, a Frisco resident, had been reported missing last Tuesday from a country club in Plano where she worked. Her body was found Wednesday in a wooded area near the Dallas North Tollway in Frisco.

Craig Loper, the ex-husband of Susan Loper, said Friday night that he had not seen any prior indication that Black was violent. He told the Dallas Morning News that he did know of an argument his ex-wife and Black had three or four years ago.

"It was in the context of a normal breakup and I got caught up in it," he told the newspaper. "But it was never violent toward her."

Craig Loper added that Black was jealous that he and Susan had remained friends. He said Susan seemed to have moved on after her breakup with Black and had been dating someone else for a while.

Susan Loper's funeral has been set for Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Hope Fellowship Church in Frisco. Instead of flowers, the family has asked for donations to be sent to a fund to benefit Loper's eight-year-old son, Jake.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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