Special Reports

More searchers flock to Utah desert to look for Susan Powell

The search for Susan Cox Powell moved six miles down the road Monday and involved searchers from just as many counties.

But the result was the same as the previous week. Monday ended with no sign of the wife and mother formerly of Puyallup who has been missing since Dec. 6, 2009.

Police Lt. Bill Merritt acknowledged the search in Juab County, Utah, had produced no evidence indicating police are looking in the right place. Yet other police and sheriff departments volunteering their staff have propelled the operation.

The search originally was scheduled to last four days last week. Monday was the eighth consecutive day of searching, and Merritt said the hunt will continue through Wednesday.

One hundred searchers riding all-terrain vehicles and on foot scoured the desert Monday. The sheriff’s offices in Juab, Millard, Sevier, Iron and Beaver counties all sent teams to help.

Salt Lake City police also sent about 15 officers. They formed a line, with about 20 yards between one another, near the command post and began walking north. They carefully stepped over rocks and through sage brush looking for anything out of place.

“These are people who know what they’re doing,” Merritt said.

An airplane from the Utah Department of Public Safety flew over the search zones Monday. One cadaver dog – trained to react to the smell of human decomposition – was present to sniff any suspicious scenes discovered by searchers, Merritt said.

While dozens of square miles have been searched in the last week, Merritt acknowledged the vast west desert still has many places where someone could dispose of a body.

“Yesterday the Juab County sheriff described it as (looking for) a broken needle, needle pieces, in a haystack,” Merritt said.

Last Wednesday, cadaver dogs detected what police described as human remains in a suspected shallow grave. But police unearthed only 100 or so pieces of charred wood at the site. Police believe the wood, which will be examined by experts, was used to burn human remains.

Topaz Mountain is about 30 miles from where Josh Powell, the only person of interest police have named in his wife’s disappearance, says he took his two young sons camping the night his 28-year-old wife disappeared from their home.

Josh Powell now is living at the Puyallup home of his father.

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