Ellen Goldberg, NBCDFW.com
Terrance Black is expected to recover from his injuries and return to Texas to face charges in Susan Loper's murder. Meanwhile those who know him describe him as a nice guy who was in love with Loper.
The man arrested in the slaying of a North Texas fitness instructor was captured after he leapt from the rim of the Grand Canyon, park officials said Friday.
Plano police said Terrance Black, 48, is being held in Arizona in the death of Susan Loper, whose body was found Wednesday morning in a field.
The U.S. National Park Service said in a statement that rangers found Black at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona on Friday afternoon.
The agency said a park visitor complained at about 1:45 p.m. about a man panhandling at the Duck on a Rock pullout about 10 miles east of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. Black refused to provide identification the the responding rangers and fled. He jumped off the edge of the rim but only fell about 25 feet, the park service said.
Rangers identified a vehicle parked at Duck on the Lake as belonging to Black.
Black was not identified at the park's entry gate because it is National Park Week and visitors are admitted for free. Rangers normally staff the park gates and write down the license plate of every car.
Rescue crews handcuffed Black, stabilized his injuries and lifted him to the rim.
The National Park Service said Black was airlifted to Flagstaff Medical Center for treatment. He will be transported to the Coconino County Detention Center when he is released from the hospital to await the arrival of Texas Rangers.
Black's car was impounded and is being held for Texas Rangers, the park service said.
On Saturday night, Black was still in the hospital but expected to survive his injuries. After he is released from the hospital he will be extradited back to North Texas where he will face capital murder charges.
Loper's Friends Relieved by Arrest
Friends of Loper said Friday they are relieved that Black is in custody.
"But I think ultimately he will answer to a much higher power, and whatever they could do to him here on Earth won't be half of what happens to him," Maelka Malone, Loper's best friend.
"It's gut-wrenching," she said. "We can't believe it. We're shocked. We wish it never happened. We can't believe it was him -- I mean, all those things."
Friends said Loper, a single mother of an 8-year-old boy, and Black had broken up about a year and a half ago.
"The only question we would probably have to him is, 'Why? Why would you take her from her little boy?' most importantly, because he knew the relationship they had. 'Why would you take her from him?'" Malone said.
Friends said they knew Black as man who was gentle, God-fearing and doted on Loper and her son.
"In their relationship, he was very loving and kind to her and overly affectionate, overly loving," Malone said. "I mean, if somebody could be in trouble for loving someone too much, maybe that was the worst thing he did."
Police Release Few Details
The Plano Police Department has been tight-lipped on details about the case throughout the investigation.
In a press conference earlier Friday, investigators said they had issued a murder warrant for Black, who was last seen driving a black Cadillac Escalade with Texas license plate 058-NJJ.
Hours before the 5 p.m. news conference, NBC DFW learned from Loper's friends that Black, her former boyfriend, drives a black Cadillac Escalade.
NBC DFW has also learned Black's Frisco residence was searched by police at about 5 a.m. Wednesday and at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday. NBC DFW also learned that a warrant had been issued for his arrest on a charge of capital murder by terror threat/other felony.
Plano police said even though a warrant has been issued for Black, evidence is still being gathered and that the investigation is ongoing.
Even earlier Friday, the department said Friday morning that multiple search warrants were issued in a search for evidence that aims to qualify or disqualify numerous suspects.
They declined to elaborate and would not say who the subject of those warrants were or the addresses they searched. Police would only say that the list of suspects was very narrow and that there was more than one suspect.
Plano police said Friday morning that they were looking for the driver of a 2004 black Cadillac Escalade that was near the Madison at Willow Bend Apartments at 2525 Preston Road between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. Tuesday. They didn't say who owned the vehicle and had no license plate number.
Loper's Toyota RAV4 was later at that complex and not at the original location supplied by investigators, near Parker Road and the North Dallas Tollway. (See pictures of the vehicles here.)
Police added that everyone in Loper's life was at one time considered a suspect, and investigators are diligently working to remove individuals from that list.
Officials said Loper's autopsy report is complete, but that it will not be released until police wish to share more details of the crime. They said hope that keeping the information between investigators and the killer will help them find the killer.
The Texas Rangers and the U.S. Marshal Service is assisting Plano police in the investigation.
NBC DFW's Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.