August 6, 2010 – A government employee working for the Division of Gas, Oil, and Mining (DOGM) allegedly sabotaged efforts to search a breached mine for clues into Susan Cox Powell’s disappearance after the West Valley City Police Department (WVCPD) alerted him of the search.
Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4
Search efforts thwarted
A large grate over a deep mine located in Eureka, Utah, was breached with an opening large enough that a human body could be dropped into it.
Mine exploration groups and the Susan Cox Powell search effort agreed the mine should be searched.
As volunteers worked to coordinate the search government agencies were busy contacting other government agencies, and the owner of the mine to be searched, in what search teams believe was an attempt to stop the search effort.
If you’ve followed Susan’s case or if you’ve been involved in the search efforts to find her, then you’re aware how these efforts can be thwarted.
Sometimes search efforts have been called off for what police claimed were good reasons – safety and liability issues. (Click here to read how police from three departments in three different states dealt with this issue.)
However, there appears to have been no good reason why the most recent organized search for Susan was called off.
Attempts to work with government agencies
Once the decision was made to search the mine, as a courtesy search organizer Linda Osborne contacted the West Valley City Police Department (WVCPD) on July 5. She told them of the group’s plan to search the mine, provided the name and location of the mine, and informed them that the mine grate had been breached.
Linda stated WVCPD never informed her that searching the mine would in any way hinder their investigation into the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell.
On July 27, search teams had everything in place for the search and scheduled the search for Saturday, July 31.
On July 28, Linda, again as a courtesy, contacted the WVCPD to inform them of the search date.
The WVCPD informed Linda the mine was on private property and that the landowner would have to be contacted prior to performing the search.
She performed an initial records search and learned the mine was owned by “The USA.”
However, through further searching, Linda learned those records were outdated and she was finally able to locate the landowner’s contact information. She attempted to contact him but he did not return her calls.
Government employee sabotages search effort
After speaking with Linda on July 28, the WVCPD contacted the DOGM employee. It is unknown what WVCPD told the employee other than a date had been set for the search, and it is unclear why WVPCD would contact the DOGM when the mine is outside both their jurisdiction.
The DOGM employee took it upon himself to contact the owner of the land where the mine is located.
The employee slandered the group organizing and performing the search, leaving doubt in the landowner’s mind and causing him to ignore Linda Osborne’s initial attempts to contact him by phone.
Linda located the landowner’s email address and sent him an email explaining the group’s intent in wanting access to his mine – to search for clues into Susan’s disappearance.
Upon reading her email, the landowner called Linda. He told her the DOGM employee had called and told him that if he allowed the group to search his mine he could expect 100 people on his property “partying and doing drugs.”
Following their discussion the landowner changed his mind and agreed to the search of the mine on his property. (More details in Part 4).
Unexpectedly, Linda received an irate phone call from the landowner the day before the search. He told Linda that he had received another call from the same DOGM employee who told him the intent of the search group, including the two mine exploration groups, was not to search for Susan, but was “just an excuse to see the inner workings of his mine.”
The landowner abruptly revoked his permission for the group to search his mine. He said the group could not enter his property and if they did, they would be arrested for trespassing. The July 31search was called off.
Corey Shuman, President of Gold Mine Expeditions, contacted the DOGM to address the slanderous statements made by the DOGM employee to the landowner. A conference call between the parties was organized. Click here for Part 2, details of the conference call.
Part 1 – Search efforts thwarted
Part 2 – Conference call
Part 3 – Backfilling mines: How it can hinder search for Susan
Part 4 – Details of what transpired between search group and government agencies
Susan Cox Powell, reported missing Dec. 7, 2009
Susan is the 28-year-old mother of two who disappeared from her West Valley City home in Utah. Her husband, Josh Powell, remains the only person of interest in what police call a missing person’s case with suspicious criminal overtones.
Within a month of Susan’s disappearance, Josh moved to their hometown of Puyallup, Washington, where he currently resides with his father, siblings, and two young sons.
Josh told police and media that just after Susan went to bed on Sun., Dec. 6, he took their two young sons, then ages 2 and 4, on an overnight camping trip.
It was snowing that night and temperatures were subfreezing. He claims he forgot what day it was and that he went camping because he and his boys liked to do S’Mores. He said when he returned the following day his wife had disappeared and he didn’t know where she was.
His story has been largely criticized and disbelieved.