980 susan cox powell AP
Police in Utah say the search for missing Puyallup mom Susan Cox Powell is over, ending the three-and-a-half year investigation into her disappearance. (AP Photo, file)

Utah police call off search for Susan Cox Powell

Police in Utah say the search for missing Puyallup mom Susan Cox Powell is over, ending the three-and-a-half year investigation into her disappearance.

Even though they never found her body, officials said Monday they "firmly" believe her estranged husband Josh Powell was responsible for her death. Josh Powell died after setting fire to his house in Feb. 2012, killing himself and his two young sons.

"The case will remain open and if we obtain any more credible leads we will pursue them," said West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle. "We have no further active leads to develop at this point."

Officials said they've followed up on 800 leads throughout the course of the nearly 4-year investigation.

Police also revealed for the first time Monday they think Josh Powell's brother Michael was involved in Susan Cox Powell's disappearance.

"We don't believe that he was directly involved, but that he had involvement at some point with her disappearance," said West Valley Deputy Police Chief Mike Powell, no relation to the Powell family.

Michael Powell committed suicide in February, jumping off a Minneapolis parking garage. The deputy chief said once he died, it "essentially left us with no other significant suspect" to focus on.

Susan Cox Powell was last seen on December 6, 2009. Her estranged husband was always considered a suspect, but never arrested or charged. Josh Powell claimed he took his sons camping in sub-freezing temperatures and a blizzard at the time of her disappearance.

Susan Cox Powell's parents are extremely disappointed by the decision to end the active investigation, their attorney Anne Bremner told The Ron and Don Show.

"Of course it's disappointing. I mean Chuck and Judy's primary goal is to find their daughter. They've lost their daughter, they've lost their grand kids in probably the most tragic case I've ever seen."

Bremner has repeatedly argued West Valley officials had more than enough evidence to charge Josh Powell, from his dubious alibi to blood evidence to his making calls from her cell phone after her disappearance.

"We also had the life insurance policy he took out, $3.5 million life insurance on Susan and the kids. And guess what? He put Michael's name in there," Bremner said.

Police also said Monday they intercepted phone calls between Josh Powell and his father Steven. They eventually determined Steven likely was not involved in her disappearance.

They also said they were unable to intercept calls between Josh Powell and his brother Michael because they used "sophisticated" encryption technology to communicate with each other. Detectives were unable to decipher those communications.


MyNorthwest.com, Staff report
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