Police to continue search in Susan Powell case into Saturday

New info from older search warrant led detectives to Nevada

Published: Saturday, Aug. 20 2011 12:49 a.m. MDT

The initial searches were occurring east of an active copper mine, Robinson Mine, near Lane, Nev. Searchers later moved to a second area — that involved going over a steep incline with loose gravel toward Squaw Peak — to locate additional mine shafts. Searchers advised only ATVs should try to enter that area.

Watts said his office was contacted two days ago by West Valley police who informed him that detectives would be in the area to follow up on leads in the Powell case.

Mike Powell indicated detectives are looking for something specific, but would not specify.

"This is the first time we've been here to follow up on information that led us out here," the sergeant said, yet also said officers had earlier taken a "pre-emptive drive" to Ely. "This is definitely not a cold case."

He said detectives "felt strongly that we needed to follow" up on information that led them to the area.

Around town, many people said they had heard of the Susan Powell case, but they were all surprised to learn of a possible link to the case in Ely. The Ely Times wrote a small article on the front page of Friday's newspaper talking about West Valley police coming to Nevada.

The media descended on the small town after West Valley police issued a press release Thursday announcing they had new information in the case that has gone unsolved for more than a year.

Susan's father, Chuck Cox, told KING-TV in Seattle Friday that he was "confused" by the police press conference. 

"If you don't have anything, then you don't have anything," he said. "That's what's confusing. Maybe they do have something but why is it being revealed in this way? It's just kind of an odd thing." 

He said he was happy to see that police are still working on the case and are dedicated to finding his daughter, but was disappointed by the information that was revealed.

"I was hoping to hear something, so I could say, 'This is what's going on' or have something we could react to," he said. "What it was, was not helpful to anybody at the moment." 

Judy Cox, the missing woman's mother, said she went through a variety of emotions awaiting the news and hopes to hear more soon.

"We need closure," she said. "We need to find out the truth and I just really appreciate the police for not letting it become a cold case."

The West Valley mother of two was last seen Dec. 6. Her husband, Josh Powell, reported seeing her around midnight when he said he took the couple's children — then ages 2 and 4 — camping in the remote west desert of Tooele County.

He said at the time that he and the boys slept in the family's van despite the subzero temperatures in the area. Police seized the vehicle for a search just after Susan was reported missing. During that time, Josh Powell rented a vehicle and returned it with the odometer showing several hundred more miles on it than when it was initially rented.

Josh Powell has been named a person of interest in the case, but there have never been any official suspects.

Josh Powell's sister, Jennifer Graves, was emotional Friday when she said she was "expecting more" from the police announcement. 

"It will bring a flood of new leads, so that, I guess, I can be grateful for," she said. 

Josh Powell and his father, Steve Powell, have since said they believe the woman ran away with another missing Utahn, Koecher, and believe the pair may have been hiding out in Nevada.

"Who's going to look for you in Ely, Nev.?" Steven Powell said Thursday after hearing of the police lead.

Police have repeatedly said Josh Powell has been uncooperative with their efforts and Josh said they, in turn, have provided him with little information about the case.

"We've been working hard to bring Susan home," Josh Powell told the Deseret News Thursday. "Anything that gets us closer to that is a good thing."

Koecher has been missing since Dec. 13, when he was last spotted on a surveillance video in a neighborhood outside Las Vegas. His cousin, KC Naegle, said Friday that while the family appreciates the publicity the rumored connection to Susan Cox Powell brings, they don't buy into the theory.

"It's been weird," she's said. "Especially since it's really outlandish that they're connecting them. Yeah, it's kind of a coincidence that they disappeared at the same time, but they're saying things like, 'They both lived in downtown Salt Lake.' Right, but so did how many other people?"

She said running off with a married woman with children is "so far outside" her cousin's character and pointed out that he and Susan Powell were at totally different points in their lives — Koecher as a single guy living with roommates and Cox Powell as a married mother of two. 

Still, the possibility Koecher is alive, regardless of the circumstances, is better than some of the alternatives.

"If he's living in Brazil with Susan Powell and he's happy and well, then we'd be happy with that," Naegle said. "We just want to know."

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com, preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam, DNewsCrimeTeam

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