Special Reports

Rains delay search in Utah for missing Puyallup woman Susan Cox Powell

Friday afternoon rains forced West Valley City police to shut down their search for signs of Susan Cox Powell, including efforts to sift through dirt dug in an area where cadaver dogs have indicated there are human remains.

A forensics team arrived Friday morning at Topaz Mountain and was looking for bone fragments or anything foreign to the area – such as clothing or jewelry – in the dirt before the rain hit just before 3 p.m. local time. The team hopes to resume the work Saturday.

So far, no bones have been found.

Powell, a 28-year-old Puyallup native, disappeared Dec. 6, 2009, and was reported missing the next day after she failed to show up to work. Her husband, Josh Powell, has said he took his sons, then 2 and 4, on a late-night camping trip and returned to find his wife gone. Josh Powell is the only person of interest in his wife’s disappearance.

Earlier in the week, West Valley City investigators launched a search on Topaz Mountain. Cadaver dogs hit on an area Wednesday about 30 miles from where Josh Powell took the couple’s sons camping.

Investigators on Thursday dug an area about 2 feet wide and 1 foot deep at the site. Further excavation was to resume once the dirt had been sifted, but that process went much slower than expected Friday, said West Valley City Police Lt. Bill Merritt.

“As is stands, we are probably not even a quarter of the way through of the dirt that has been pulled out,” Merritt said.

West Valley City police have put in a call to the state Medical Examiner’s Office to see if they can get a forensic anthropologist out to the site who could more quickly determine whether there is something on the dirt.

Susan Powell’s father, Chuck Cox, arrived Friday afternoon and was taken to the dig site.

Cox said he feels his daughter is somewhere in a remote area, but not necessarily this one.

“It’s very logical and it needs to be done, so I have every confidence in what they are doing,” Cox said. “I have always known this was going to take a lot longer than people give it credit for. This is by no means a simple case.”