West Valley police investigating possible Nevada lead in Susan Cox Powell case

Published: Thursday, Aug. 18 2011 8:00 a.m. MDT

Susan Powell in a photo made available by Hardman Photography. Powell was reported missing on Monday, Dec. 7, 2009.

Amber Hardman, AP

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WEST VALLEY CITY — Police on Thursday announced a possible lead in the investigation into missing West Valley mother Susan Cox Powell who disappeared more than a year ago.

"A team of West Valley Police Department detectives will arrive in Ely, Nev., and its surrounding area to conduct a search and investigate the information received," according to a statement from West Valley police.

The search will be conducted Friday. West Valley Police Sgt. Mike Powell said he was limited in the information he could release Thursday.

"We've received some credible information that definitely needs some follow up," Powell said. "We want the public to be aware of what's going on."

Police were expected to release more information about what area was being searched on Friday.

Susan Powell's husband Josh Powell told KING TV in Seattle that hearing West Valley Police had a credible lead was "the best news that I've heard in two years." He said he had not been contacted by police, but instead learned of the Ely investigation from members of the media.

"It's not odd for the police to not contact me," Josh Powell said. "They don't contact me, they don't make an attempt to contact me."

Locals at the Silver State Restaurant in Ely said they had heard about the Powell case, but were surprised to learn that police and media were coming to the town for a search. They said a lot of people hunt in the hills surrounding the town and often find things.

Chuck Cox, Susan's father, said Thursday he was happy to know that police continue to work on the case, but is uncertain what his daughter's connection to Ely might be.

"They've had leads before that have gone nowhere," Cox said. "We don't know anything about Ely."

He said he has been in contact with West Valley police "about every week or so, and they haven't mentioned anything." After a reporter informed him of the press conference Thursday, Cox said he talked to police who simply confirmed there was a lead.

"We don't know what evidence they have right now," he said. "We hope she's still alive, and if she's not alive, we hope they find her. If she's not alive, we hope they can do something about it when they find her."

Cox also said Josh Powell has obtained a temporary restraining order against him that was served just last week.

"I cannot approach him or the children," Cox told the Deseret News. "(Josh Powell) feels I'm threatening to him or the children so I have been restrained from harassing him or hurting him or killing him or seeing the grandchildren. I'm going: 'Josh, I've never threatened you. I've never stalked you.' I've never done anything he's saying I've done."

He thinks the court action may have stemmed from a run-in at a Puyallup, Wash., area Lowe's store, where Cox has twice seen Josh Powell and his two grandchildren. The first time, in April of this year, he was able to talk to the boys. The next time, it played out differently.

"I saw Josh, and I called his name," Cox recalled. "I said, 'Hey, would it be OK if (Cox's wife) and I gave the grandkids a hug?' and he said, 'No, absolutely not.' I said, 'Why not? We're in a public place with lots of people around?' He should feel comfortable."

Cox said a court hearing about the restraining order is scheduled for next week and he looks forward to telling his side of the story.

Susan Powell's best friend, Kiirsi Hellewell, said she learned about the developments in her friend's case from the media but is encouraged by the news.

"I was really surprised because in all the time that Susan has been missing, I've never known the police to put out a press release, so that makes me think this is more credible," Hellewell said.

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