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Police call off Ore. search for Susan Powell's remains

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UPDATE: A search of a farm in Salem, Ore., for the remains of missing West Valley City mother Susan Cox Powell was called off Thursday after two days of searching yielded nothing of interest.

The search was suspended Thursday morning and police will be returning to Utah after wrapping up the search, the Associated Press confirmed.

Stay with, KSL TV and KSL Newsradio for more information as it becomes available.

SALEM, Ore. — A search of a farm in Salem, Ore., for the remains of missing West Valley City mother Susan Cox Powell appears to have turned up nothing.

Chuck Cox, Susan Powell's father, confirmed to KSL he told police the home, located on about 180 acres of land, is a place the Powell family used to rent. The family was renting it at the time Susan Powell went missing, Cox said.

Chuck Cox, Susan Powell's father, confirmed to KSL he told police the home, located on about 180 acres of land, is a place the Powell family used to rent. The family was renting it at the time Susan Powell went missing, Cox said.

"It was a tip that some family would probably be willing to assist Steve Powell or the Powells in hiding a body or something, and so this was a remote piece of property and would be a good place," Cox said. The source wished to remain anonymous.

Police have been searching the area for two days, but have so far found no evidence of remains, according to Cox.

Police have called off the search for the night and do not expect any new developments at the site. The team of 15–20 officers, specialized searchers and four to five dogs will resume the search Thursday, according to Mike Powell, deputy chief with the West Valley City Police Department.

They are searching for any clues, evidence or additional tips, he said. The group began searching the private property Tuesday morning and searched 10 to 12 hours each day. He described it as a very wooded area and difficult terrain to search.

Timeline in Susan Cox Powell case:
A more detailed timeline of events can be found here.2009
  • Dec. 6 - 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. 16 - Josh Powell named person of interest2010
    • Jan. 9 - Josh Powell packs up West Valley City house
    • Dec. 6 - Josh Powell and his father, Steve, assert that Susan Powell ran away with missing Utah man Steven Koecher, who disappeared in Nevada in December 2009.
  • 2011
    • Aug. 25 - West Valley Police serve warrant to Steve and Josh Powell
    • Sept. - Steven Powell faces charges of voyeurism and possessing child porn Sept. 23 - Susan's parents file for custody of Powell sons
    • Sept. 27 - Cox family gains temporary custody
    • Feb 1. - Judge denies Josh Powell custody
    • Feb. 5 - Josh allegedly sends message to lawyer saying goodbye, home explodes shortly after

Cox told KSL he had not received any tips in his daughter's disappearance for months before the tip this week, but that this week's tip was "promising." He said he doesn't know of any other leads, but hopes the search will bring forward new information in a case seems to have seen nothing but dead ends.

West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle said the city is still deeply committed to the search for the missing Utah mother, but the end of the case might be drawing nearer.

"Although we will be following every credible lead that we believe would lead us to a resolution of the case, yes, of course, at some point you do run out of leads to follow, and at that point we'll make the decision of when and how to close the case," Pyle said. "I believe we're close to that point."

This was the first search since Powell's husband, Josh Powell , blew up his Graham, Wash., residence on Feb. 5, 2012, killing himself and the couple's two young children. Powell had attacked the children with hatchets before setting the house on fire.

Powell had long been a person of interest in the Dec. 2009 disappearance of his wife, Susan, who is still missing, but was never arrested or charged. Days before he killed himself and his two sons, Powell had been ordered to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation and denied custody of the boys.

Although authorities turned their attention to Powell early in the case, Powell repeatedly denied any involvement in his wife's disappearance, telling CBS' Early Show in Aug. 2011 that "people who know me know that I could never hurt Susan."

In April 2010, police searched the West Desert for clues to Susan Powell's disappearance after Powell told police he had gone camping with his children in the area in the hours before his wife's disappearance.

Police spent 12 days in Sept. 2011 searching for clues in Ely, Nev., after receiving a tip. The search turned out to be a dead end.

The case has been the subject of national attention for years, as the search for Susan Powell turned into a saga of sex, lies and scandal. The day before the September search ended, Steven Powell, Josh Powell's father, was arrested on suspicion of secretly videotaping his daughter-in-law and other females, including girls as young as 8 years old.


Steven Powell, now 63, was convicted in June of 12 counts of voyeurism and ordered to serve 30 months in prison, with credit for time he had already served. Powell will be released from prison May 23.

Diaries released by the Pierce County Sheriff's Office in Washington state showed Steven Powell seemed to have an obsession with his daughter-in-law dating back to at least 2003.

There were 17 volumes of journal entries released as a part of more than 2,700 pages of documents made public in Aug. 2012, but there are few journal entries between Oct. 2009 and April 2010. When Powell finally resumed writing, he said he suspected his daughter-in-law had left her husband for another man and continued to write about her regularly.

Steven Powell and his son, Michael Powell, had long been insistent that Josh Powell was innocent. Michael Powell launched and later removed a website early in 2012 that claimed police had bungled the investigation into Susan's disappearance and that the Powell children were in danger while in the care of the Cox family.

Michael Powell committed suicide in Feb. 2013 by jumping off a parking ramp in Minneapolis.

Contributing: Devon Dolan and Pat Reavy


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