Susan Cox Powell’s friend ‘discouraged’ by Oregon search so far

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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah - Friends and family here in Utah are still hoping for answers three years after Susan Cox Powell disappeared.

Susan was last seen on Dec. 6, 2009. Since then, there have been four public searches, including one this week on a rural property outside Salem, Oregon.

Relatives of Josh Powell, Susan's husband and the sole person of interest in her disappearance, lived on that Oregon property at the time of Susan's disappearance. A tip to Susan's father Chuck Cox led police to the area.

Police and cadaver dogs have been searching for two days, but have found nothing so far, and Susan's friend Kiirsi Hellewell is feeling discouraged.

Hellewell says she knew about the Oregon search on Monday and has been communicating with Chuck Cox all day. She says she believes this new search may already be winding down.

"I've just heard that they've found nothing as they're searching this 40-acre place. That's a big place and it will take a while but since they've found nothing, the hope that we have for another search is crushed," Hellewell said.

The family connection to this Oregon property had promise, though, she said.

"It's always been a possibility in my mind that maybe Josh took Susan somewhere he had a connection to. That he had been in the past or had been there with family during visits so when I heard that there were relatives of Steve's there at one time that maybe this was a really good place to look," she said.

Josh Powell's estranged sister Jennifer Graves was aware of the search, but because she hasn't been on good terms with the Powell family for some time, the Oregon property isn't a place she's familiar with.

But when she learned about the location, it brought the crime to a "more shocking level" that maybe more than one person was involved in Susan's disappearance.