Tooele County sheriff has concerns about search for Susan Powell

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TOOELE COUNTY -- It's been nearly four months since West Valley mother Susan Powell was reported missing. Her friends are launching a massive search for her.

That search will be in the West Desert, starting at Simpson Springs, and the Tooele County sheriff has some concerns. Sheriff Frank Park is worried a lot of people going out there don't really know what desert conditions are like, and he doesn't want anyone with good intentions to get hurt.

The volunteer search for Susan, scheduled for April 10, will include a massive operation in Tooele County's West Desert by Powell's friends.

Powell search background
• Dec. 6, 2009 - The last time anyone saw Susan Powell
• Dec. 7 - The day Susan Powell was reported missing
• Dec. 9 - Police call disappearance of Susan Powell suspicious
• Dec. 12 - Family of missing woman's husband speaks
• Dec. 16 - Josh Powell named person of interest
• Dec. 17 - 2nd search warrant served at Powell home
• Dec. 20 - Josh Powell attends Wash. vigil
• Jan. 3, 2010 - Friends of missing Utah mom launch Web media blitz
• Jan. 4 - Social media blitz kick off
• Jan. 9 - Josh Powell packs up West Valley City house
• Jan. 27 - Family, friends put up ribbon display at Powell WVC home
• Feb. 5 - Friends plan ‘Week of Service' in honor of Susan Powell
• Feb. 15 - Family accuses missing woman's husband of abuse
• March 1 - Susan Powell's family, former cop question new website
• March 6 - Vigils mark 3-month anniversary of Susan Powell's disappearance
• March 9 - Witnesses say they saw Josh Powell at a strip club just hours after Susan Powell was reported missing.
• March 16 - Volunteer search being organized for Susan Powell

"The heart of a volunteer should never be questioned. They do a great job, and they're there to help," Park says.

The sheriff says he's heard from search organizers there could be 2,000 volunteers, which makes him a little nervous.

"My major concerns are the accountability for the people coming and going. If we've got 2,000 people showing up, we want to make sure we got 2,000 people coming back," Park says.

Simpson Springs is where the search will be based. It's where Josh Powell said he was camping the night his wife was last seen at their West Valley home, but it's not the easiest place to search.

"In our desert, there are mine shafts; there's unexploded ordinances," Park says. "This time of year, with the animals giving birth or coming out of the stressful winter. There's a lot of dangers."

Tooele County detectives have been busy. In the past few months, they've had several reports of piles of bones that turned out to be dogs.

"We get calls," Park says.

One caller told Park that he noticed some dirt that was disturbed at a grave site in the old mining town of Mercur. Detectives went out there and dug all the way to the coffin. They didn't find anything, but these kinds of tips are something the sheriff says they always have to follow.

"We are continually, on the weekends and the first of the week, following up on information and reports of something suspicious out in the middle of the desert," Park says.

There are a lot of people hoping one of those tips, or next month's search, turns into something real.

"Hopefully, it'll be a safe, great day; and the concern of everybody throughout the country is to get closure for this family. If that happens, that's great," Park says.

One of the organizers of the search says the snow is starting to melt. She's hoping that will help someone find something.



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Alex Cabrero


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