By Chris Collins
A Washington man whose daughter, Susan Powell, has been missing for more than three years, has new hope of finding her body along Interstate 84 between Pendleton and Tremonton, Utah.
Chuck Cox, his daughter, Denise Olsen, and their investigators traveled through the region this week to ask residents in communities along the freeway for help.
Their interstate journey started Monday, a week after West Valley, Utah, police released their case file detailing the investigation into Susan Powell's disappearance.
Police also announced May 20 that they were closing their active investigation.
Although they believe Susan's husband, Josh Powell, and his brother, Michael Powell, were involved in her disappearance, they have run out of leads, according to media reports.
Susan Powell was last seen at West Valley City, Utah, on Dec. 7, 2009. She was reported missing when she failed to show up at work.
Josh Powell killed himself in February 2012 after murdering the couple's two young sons. His brother, Michael Powell, died Feb. 5 of this year when he jumped from a parking garage in Minneapolis.
Cox said in a telephone interview Thursday that he and his daughter and investigators were distributing fliers and talking to authorities en route from Washington to Utah to enlist help in their search for Susan.
They were headed back to his home in Puyallup, Wash., Thursday.
Cox wrote in a letter seeking help in the search that "Michael Powell salvaged his 1997 Ford Taurus on or about Dec. 15, 2009, at Pendleton, Ore. The car had broken down near Baker City, Ore. Rather than repairing the car or disposing of it in Baker City or La Grande, it was towed to Pendleton to be salvaged/destroyed."
Cox said the car was not destroyed and instead, police brought in cadaver dogs to examine it. The dogs "hit" on the car indicating that they had found the scent of a decomposed body, Cox said. Susan's DNA was not found in the car, "but dogs react to scent, not DNA," he said.
Cox said it is his hope that the fliers and conversations he and his daughter and their investigators are having with authorities and community residents along the way will be productive.
They visited about 30 of the larger communities along Interstate 84 during their travels this week, Cox said.
Media attention provided in the Salt Lake City area "generated a few hits - things people wanted to talk about," Cox said.
He said many people he had talked with, including law enforcement officers, were not aware that there could be an Eastern Oregon connection to the investigation.
"Sheriffs and search and rescue people, almost every one of them, said 'I know a place we probably should look,' " Cox said.
"There's nothing breaking, but there have been a lot of hopeful things," he added. "We didn't know about the car until two weeks ago, and then to find out there was evidence there, that opened up everything."