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West Valley police, neighbors call Susan Powell's disappearance 'suspicious'

Police search missing mom's home for clues

Published: Friday, Dec. 11 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

Josh Powell, whose wife, Susan Powell, has been missing since Sunday, answers questions outside his West Valley City home on Thursday.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

WEST VALLEY CITY — There are many theories about what could have happened to Susan Powell.

There are also assumptions about what already has happened.

But almost everyone who knows her agrees that Powell would never have left her two young boys, one reason why police are now calling the 28-year-old's disappearance "suspicious."

Josh Powell told the Deseret News he last saw his wife about midnight Sunday at their home. He said that was when he decided to leave the house and take his two sons, ages 2 and 4, camping "down south."

He said he didn't realize his wife was missing until a friend called him Monday and told him that police officers were looking for him and his family.

Since then, no one has seen Susan Powell. She failed to go to work Monday, and no one has an explanation about where she could be — not police, friends or family.

"It's a still a missing-person case, but the circumstances surrounding it are very suspicious," West Valley Police Capt. Tom McLachlan said Thursday. "Nobody can tell us where she is at, and she has not contacted family or friends that we know of."

Police obtained a search warrant for the Powell home, 6254 Sarah Circle, late Wednesday and have collected various pieces of furniture to submit for forensic tests. While he wouldn't go into specifics, McLachlan said Susan Powell "left items at the house that you would normally associate if you were going on a trip or going somewhere."

Susan Powell's father, Chuck Cox, said his daughter's purse and cell phone were still at the home. McLachlan said police focused their efforts on the home because it was the last place she was seen. An endangered-person alert was issued Monday, but police have heard nothing as a result of the alert.

"There's a lot of different scenarios you can put with the situation," McLachlan said. "Because we don't have enough information on any one of those possibilities, you have to work all of them. It keeps us busy."

About 100 of Susan Powell's friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members — including, for a short time, her husband and two sons — gathered in the cold at a candlelight vigil Thursday night at West View Park. In addition to holding lighted candles, they prayed for Susan Powell's safe return, shared stories about her, passed out missing-person fliers and sang "Silent Night."

"She's really special to us," said Crystal Peterson, who attends the same LDS Church ward as the Powells. "We just want to see her home. We want her home. That's all we want."

Investigators have interviewed Josh Powell and were working Thursday to verify what he had told them.

Josh Powell told the Deseret News that when he returned home Monday night, he discovered a front window had been broken out. The window had been broken by police, who worried the family might have been poisoned by carbon monoxide. Josh Powell said he didn't see "any sign of anything" out of the ordinary inside.

When asked what was going through his mind on the fourth day since his wife's disappearance, he said it was "hard to concentrate," before going into detail about how he had placed cardboard in the broken window.

Close friend and neighbor Kiirsi Hellewell, who has become the self-appointed advocate for Susan Powell because the woman's family lives in Washington, has pieced together a detailed timeline of events. She said she walked home from church with Susan Powell and her sons around noon Sunday. Another friend from her LDS ward ate dinner with the Powells Sunday evening. That friend told Hellewell she left the home shortly after Susan Powell said she wasn't feeling well and Josh Powell announced that he was going to take the boys sledding and then go eat.

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