The Justice Files: Inside a mine shaft looking for Susan Powell

Justice Files

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – It was another dead end in the search for Susan Cox Powell.

In 2009, the West Valley mother disappeared and from the outset, her husband Josh Powell became a suspect. But police could never link him to her disappearance. She’s never been found. And in 2012, her husband took his secret to the grave by committing suicide after setting his Washington state home on fire. Prior to the fire, police said he murdering their two sons.

“We want to bring closure to the family,” said Karra Porter with the Utah Cold Case Coalition.

That’s why in May, the coalition targeted the Iron Sides mine shaft near Simpson Springs in Utah’s west desert.

“This one was one where it was in a kind of logical place,” said Porter. “It was one where he had been reported to go and had been seen, by the sheepherders.”

Nine years ago, another group announced they’d be looking inside this same mine shaft in search of Susan.

But on the eve of the search, something happened.

“They come back the next morning and the headframe has been burnt to the ground and the debris dropped into the mine.

Josh Powell was still living in West Valley at the time. But he moved to Washington in 2012.

West Valley City police had visually searched this same mine shaft before years before. Back then go-pro cameras were not around.

“We wanted to drop a go-pro camera beyond that point to see if there was a likelihood that somebody had been disposed down there,” said Jason Jensen, a private investigator and member of the coalition.

He said it wasn’t easy to get the camera through debris that had blocked police flashlights in previous searches. But the camera found a seam and continued its downward search.

It reached depths of 150-feet before reaching the end of the mine shaft.
Since May, the cold case coalition analyzed the video frame by frame searching for any clue of bones, clothing or other property.

“Even though 10 years later, where you’re going to have some sediment debris and things like that and it was pretty conclusive that there was nothing there,” said Jensen.

This mineshaft once considered suspicious is no longer that. But there are hundreds more still waiting to be searched. Their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.

“I’m glad people are still looking, still care and want to search for her,” said Susan’s father, Chuck Cox. “And that’s probably how she’s going to be found some time.”

He meant that somebody would be out in the wilderness and come across her remains. But he also said it may just be part of her remains.

“We don’t know if she’s in one spot or all together,” Cox said.

He said police found an ax, pick and shovel in Josh Powell’s trunk.

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