'Let's not stop looking for my daughter'

Published December 12, 2009 7:50 pm
WVC » Missing mom's father pleads for people to stop focusing so much on her husband.
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The father of Susan Powell, the West Valley City mother who was reported missing Monday, says people should stop focusing solely on her husband, Joshua.

"I don't see him as capable of harming her," said Charles Cox, who flew in from his home in Puyallup, Wash., to assist in finding his 28-year-old daughter. "I'm kind of concerned that all the focus is on him."

Cox spoke Saturday at the LDS Church's Hunter Central Stake Center. He wiped away tears as about 100 friends, family and neighbors of Powell gathered to pray, sing hymns and start a 24-hour fast in hopes of her safe return. A tearful Joshua Powell and the couple's two boys also attended, but Powell did not speak to reporters.

Joshua Powell handed out fliers outside Energy Solutions Arena to people headed into the Utah Jazz game Saturday evening, but wouldn't offer any comment as to what he hoped passing out the copies with two photos of his beaming wife would achieve.

"I don't know," Powell said as to why he came to distribute the flyers. "I'm not here to answer questions."

Police, meanwhile, are continuing to chase down leads in the case, said West Valley City police Capt. Tom McLachlan.

Cox last spoke to his daughter Dec. 3, when they talked about a box of Christmas toys he had sent their family. He learned Susan was missing Monday, and the following day he spoke to his son-in-law for the only time since her disappearance.

Powell told him he last saw her at about 12:30 a.m., when she went to sleep, Cox said. That wasn't an unusual time for her to go to bed, he said. Powell did not tell him what he has told police and media, which is that he went camping with his two sons, ages 2 and 4, at about midnight, Cox said.

When asked whether he believes that story, he said: "I don't know."

But the explanation is plausible, he said, given Joshua Powell's tendency to lose track of time and act on the spur of the moment.

"Yeah, it may sound weird to a lot of people but let's not stop looking for my daughter," he said. "The more time spent on him, the less time there is looking at other possibilities, and there certainly are other possibilities."

Speaking in a separate interview, Kirk Graves, Joshua Powell's brother-in-law, also said that speculation "to portray Josh in a negative light" is harmful to the case.

With a silent Powell standing next to him, he said: "I think it's pointless, I think maybe it's worse than pointless. I think it's destructive and damaging to what's going on. There's a lot of anger in what I've seen, which I can understand, but speculation isn't helping us find Susan."

Joshua Powell is not considered a suspect or person of interest, McLachlan said, though police are expected to speak with him again.

"I can tell you that the pain he feels is real. I could feel it," Graves said. The family hopes to find her alive, he said. In the meantime, Joshua and his two sons have stayed with Graves and his wife Jennifer, Joshua Powell's sister.

"We are doing our best to shelter them from this whole situation," Graves said.

After the service, those who attended began to fan out through the area distributing fliers with Susan Powell's photograph. Besides Joshua Powell, friends and relatives worked the area around Energy Solutions Arena to distribute an estimated 4,500 flyers.

Keeping Susan Powell's face in the public's mind will hopefully bring new information about her disappearance, said John Hellewell, a friend of the Powells.

"We're hoping somebody will see this and provide us some information," he said.

--Tribune reporter Melinda Rogers contributed to this report.

lwhitehurst@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">lwhitehurst@sltrib.com

Investigators have checked camping site

Susan Powell hasn't been seen since Sunday night, when her husband says he packed up the boys for a camping trip to the Simpson Springs area of Utah's west desert, and said goodbye to his wife.

West Valley City investigators on Thursday searched a section of the Pony Express Trail in Utah's west desert, where Joshua Powell says he and the boys were camped, but could not confirm they were there. The investigation was hindered by recent snow.



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