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Search for Susan Powell ends in Oregon — and overall search may be done, too

Susan Cox Powell
Susan Cox Powell

SALEM, Ore. — After two days of searching a wooded area outside Salem, Ore., West Valley police have wrapped up their operation.

And they've also used up all leads to their efforts to find Susan Cox Powell.

"We did not find anything specific to the investigation," West Valley Deputy Chief Mike Powell said Thursday from Oregon. "Nothing was discovered as a result of the search. However, it is important to understand as well that we can say we have completed the search and we have thoroughly investigated this particular tip and the information associated with it."

On Tuesday, between 15 and 20 searchers, along with cadaver dogs, began an extensive search on approximately 180 acres of private property owned by relatives of Josh Powell, for any sign of Susan Cox Powell. Officials searched the area based on a tip that Susan's father, Chuck Cox, received.

The search continued all day Wednesday. Thursday morning, Mike Powell said officials felt confident they had left no stone unturned.

"We have completed the search in the area that we wanted to cover, and we are confident in the fact that we completed that task here," he said.

Extensive searches are nothing new in the investigation for the missing West Valley mother, who was last seen in December of 2009. Similar searches were conducted in the Topaz Mountain region near Delta and the mountains above Ely, Nev., in 2011, as well as numerous searches in Tooele County and other parts of Utah.

With each search, new leads were usually generated for officers to follow.

But Thursday, Mike Powell admitted that nearly all of the leads West Valley police had are now exhausted.

"Really, we are near completion in following up and investigating all the tips and leads that we have. In that regards, we are to a point where we don't have a whole lot more to accomplish," he said.

At some point, police will have to make the decision to move forward, Powell said. He noted that if a new lead should come up, it will be meticulously investigated like all the others. Otherwise, the Susan Powell investigation will likely become a cold case.

"That is a possibility. That's a possibility on any case we don't have a final conclusion. That is a potential in this particular case, as we continue to wrap up all aspects of what we have to investigate in this case. That is a very real possibility," he said. "Quite honestly, we are coming to a point where we have no additional follow-up to conduct."

The key suspect in Susan Powell's disappearance was her husband, Josh Powell. Powell killed his two young sons and himself in an inferno at this rental home in Graham, Wash., in 2012. His father, Steven Powell, 63, was also convicted last year of 12 counts of voyeurism for filming his young neighbor girls in their bathroom. He was ordered to serve 30 months in prison.


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