Utah mom missing for full week; clues are few

AP News
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Posted: Dec 13, 2009 6:35 PM

Police had little to go on Sunday in the search for a Utah woman who hasn't been seen for a full week.

Twenty-eight-year-old Susan Powell was reported missing from a Salt Lake City suburb in a case that police call suspicious.

She left behind two children and a husband, who says he doesn't know what happened to her.

West Valley City Police Capt. Tom McLachlan says at least eight detectives worked the case Sunday, fielding any tips or leads they can get from the family or friends.

Detectives are appealing for the public's help.

They plan to conduct another interview early this week with husband Josh Powell, who told police he left his wife and took his boys, ages 2 and 4, on a camping trip around midnight Dec. 6 in subfreezing temperatures.

Powell told police he slept in a van with the boys in Utah's west desert. Police say he returned home Tuesday evening. They haven't been able to verify the camping trip because snow had covered the spot where he said he went.

The missing woman's father, Chuck Cox, sat down to tell the detectives everything he knew about his daughter Sunday, then took a few hours off "after going nonstop for six days," said a spokeswoman for Susan Powell's family in Payallup, Wash.

"We don't have any reason or direction or anything that would give us an idea that she's at one place or another," said the spokeswoman, Shelby Gifford.

In Utah, many of the family members and friends were fasting, praying and resting Sunday, said Damon Talbot, president of the nonprofit Destiny Search Project. Talbot helps maintain a Facebook page for Susan Powell that was created by her best friend, Kiirsi Hellewell in West Valley City. Hellewell had nothing new to report Sunday afternoon.

Police say they can't confirm the husband's account of taking a camping trip while his wife disappeared.

Detectives visited the spot, Simpson Springs on the historic Pony Express Trail in Utah's west desert. Josh Powell told authorities he kept shelter with his children in a van while camping.

McLachlan said police questioning of the 4-year-old child wasn't definitive. He declined to elaborate.

"It's still a missing-person case. We don't have any information or fact to move it from that classification," McLachlan said. "But it is very suspicious to us, given the circumstances."

Susan Powell disappeared without taking her purse or cell phone or other items "that you would normally associate with somebody leaving the house," he said.