ELY, Nev. -- Investigators returned Friday to the remote Nevada desert in their search for a Utah mom missing since 2009, after an earlier check of the area yielded information.
Searchers began the day looking for Susan Cox Powell through abandoned mine shafts a few miles west of Ely off Highway 50, where the steep, rugged mountains are laced with old mine tunnels.
Powell is originally from Puyallup, Washington.
Authorities said the previous discovery led them to believe it would be worth doing a more intensive search.
Four detectives were searching the Bureau of Land Management property. They refused to provide further details explaining the effort.
The area is about 235 miles southwest of Powell’s home in West Valley City, Utah, where she was last seen Dec. 6, 2009.
Powell was 28 and had two young children when she was reported missing Dec. 7, 2009, after she failed to show up for her stockbroker job. She had been seen by friends at church and at dinner the day before.
Her husband, Joshua Powell, told police he left his wife at home about 12:30 a.m. that day to go winter camping in freezing temperatures with their young sons—then ages 4 and 2 -- on the Pony Express Trail, about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City. The 4-year-old confirmed the trip to police.
Police have called Joshua Powell a person of interest in the missing person case, although he’s never been arrested or charged. Investigators have said Joshua Powell has not cooperated with their investigation, although his Salt Lake City attorney, Scott Williams, disputes that characterization.
On Thursday, Joshua Powell, who now lives in Puyallup, said he was “overjoyed” by news of the Nevada search. He has rarely spoken publicly about the case. He and his father have said they believe Susan might have run off with another man.
“It’s been a hard two years, it’s been lonely,” Joshua Powell said. “I will always love her.”
Susan Cox Powell’s disappearance has strained the relationship between her husband and her family, which for nearly two years has publicly pleaded with Joshua Powell to cooperate with police.
Court papers from Washington’s Pierce County Superior Court in Tacoma, Wash., show Joshua Powell filed a restraining order against Susan’s father, Chuck Cox. A court hearing is set for Aug. 23 in Tacoma.
In his petition, Joshua Powell claims Cox has used the news media to “inflict me and my children with emotional insecurity and fear.”
The restraining order followed an incident at a hardware store, where Joshua Powell and the children encountered Cox, who also lives in Puyallup. The papers state Cox and his wife Judy begged Joshua Powell to let them hug their grandchildren and peppered Joshua Powell with questions about what he had been telling the children about Cox.
The petition also states that Joshua Powell believes Cox’s behavior is increasingly threatening because he believes Joshua Powell is responsible for his daughter’s disappearance.
On Thursday, Cox claimed he didn’t understand why Joshua Powell wants to restrict Susan’s family from seeing her children.
Cox said he would not be in Ely to monitor the search but was pleased by their continued efforts.
“Obviously, if they found her alive somewhere we certainly would be there instantly,” he said. “We hope that she’s alive, that she is returned, but we’re preparing ourselves for the worst.”
"Any phone call I get I think could be the police telling me they found her," said Judy Cox, Susan's mother.