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Body found in Wyoming; is it missing mom Susan Powell?

This undated picture made available by Hardman Photography shows Susan Powell. The 28-year-old mother from the Salt Lake City area was reported missing on Monday, Dec. 7, 2009.
This undated picture made available by Hardman Photography shows Susan Powell. The 28-year-old mother from the Salt Lake City area was reported missing on Monday, Dec. 7, 2009. AP

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — The discovery of a woman's body in a grazing area for sheep outside Laramie, Wyo., has raised new speculation whether it is that of missing West Valley mother Susan Cox Powell.

A sheepherder found the body of a woman 14 miles east of Laramie on Thursday. Lt. Mike Garcia, with the Albany County, Wyo., sheriff's office did not have any information about what the area looked like where the body was found, such as whether the body was lying in the open or if an attempt had been made to conceal it or if there were any obvious signs of trauma that might suggest a possible cause of death. He also did not have any word on possible clothing descriptions the victim may have been wearing.

He noted, however, that investigators had determined the woman was between 30 to 40 years old, between 5-foot-2 and 5-foot-3, and had light brown hair. Powell, 28, is 5-foot-4 and has brown hair.

Investigators in Wyoming believe the woman's body had likely been there since sometime between fall 2009 and spring 2010. They will use dental records to confirm the identity of the body, which he expected would take at least a month to complete, Garcia said.

The Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation, the University of Wyoming and the forensics unit from Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, are all assisting in analyzing forensic evidence collected at the scene.

Garcia said he was aware of the Powell case, but could not say whether the woman's body found in Wyoming was related.

"We have not positively identified her yet," he said. "We cannot rule one way or the other."

The cause of death for the body found was also unknown Tuesday.

West Valley Police Sgt. Mike Powell said his department had made a phone call to authorities in Wyoming, but it was "nothing out of the ordinary."

"Any type of situation that may have similarities, we'll investigate," he said. "We don't eliminate any possibilities."

Powell has been missing since Dec. 7, 2009. Her husband, Josh Powell, remains the only person of interest in the case. He claims he took his two young boys camping late at night in a remote part of Tooele County the night preceding his wife's disappearance. When he returned the next day, Susan Powell was gone.

Susan Powell graduated from Rogers High School in Puyallup in 2000. Her parents still reside in the Puyallup area.

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