Investigators search rural area in Oregon for Susan Powell

The Associated PressMay 15, 2013 

Authorities investigating the disappearance of Utah mother Susan Powell spent two days this week searching a rural Oregon property for her remains, Powell’s father said Wednesday.

Chuck Cox said in an interview Wednesday night that the search didn’t turn up any sign of his daughter. The property east of Salem, Ore., is in a remote area but had ties to the Powell family, Cox said.

Cox said that an aunt and uncle of Susan Powell’s husband Josh Powell lived on the property — a single house on about 180 acres — at the time of the woman’s disappearance.

“I’m disappointed,” said Cox, who accompanied some of the search dogs on the hunt. “I just don’t know where she is, but we’ll keep looking for her.”

The missing West Valley City, Utah, woman’s family gave police a tip that her remains might be in the area, said city manager Wayne Pyle. He could not comment further on the information that led them to the Oregon property.

A handful of West Valley City detectives, as well as local law enforcement and volunteers, had been searching the heavily wooded area with cadaver dogs since Tuesday, but nothing had turned up as of late Wednesday.

If they don’t find anything amid the rural area’s rough terrain, Pyle did not expect the search to continue for more than another two days.

A spokesman for the West Valley City police, which is handling the Powell investigation, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Susan Powell was reported missing in December 2009 after she didn’t show up for work. Her husband, Josh, had maintained his innocence and said he took the couple’s young boys on a midnight camping trip in freezing temperatures the night his wife disappeared.

“I’m feeling fairly depressed,” said Kiirsi Hellewell, a close friend of Susan Powell, who had been getting updates about the search Wednesday from Chuck Cox. Every time a new search begins and ends without closure, Hellewell feels like she’s on “a roller coaster.”

In February 2012, Josh Powell locked a social worker out of his home at the start of a supervised visit, then killed himself and his two young boys by attacking them with a hatchet and setting the house ablaze. Days earlier, a court had ordered Powell to undergo an intensive psychosexual evaluation as part of a custody dispute.

Josh Powell was never charged in his wife’s disappearance, but unsealed documents say authorities found Susan Powell’s blood on a floor next to a sofa that appeared to have been recently cleaned, with two fans set up to blow on it.

Anne Bremner, an attorney for the Cox family, said the brother of Josh Powell had said in a deposition that he had driven to Oregon and abandoned a vehicle there. The brother, Michael Powell, committed suicide earlier this year.

Bremner said she’s still interested in seeing more work at the property, including the possibility of having volunteers go to the site to help search.

Cox said he appreciated that investigators spent time on the Oregon search, saying it showed a dedication and determination to find his daughter.

The Salt Lake Tribune contributed to this report.

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