Accusations fly in dispute involving missing woman's family and in-laws

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An event to pass out fliers about missing Puyallup native Susan Powell turned heated when her father-in-law confronted her father on Saturday.

Powell has been missing from her Utah home for about a year-and-a-half. Her husband, Josh Powell, remains "a person of interest" in the case. Josh Powell's father, Steve Powell, accused Susan's father, Chuck Cox, of tormenting his son.

“We believe she deserted her family they don't want to look at any other theory except the possibility or the probability that her husband killed her,” Steve Powell said.

Susan's father said they're not trying to torment anyone, they just want answers.  “The police have dismissed that she left with somebody,” Cox said to Powell.   "You're son's not being cooperative" he added.

Josh Powell's family called to tell him about the argument and he showed up outside the grocery store.  “Chuck Cox has used my sons to illicit hatred in the media, to illicit hatred of me which has had an impact more on my sons than it has had one me,” he said.

The ugly scene did not Susan's family from continuing, finding her is a cause they will never give up on.  “That`s what brought Elizabeth Smart home; her dad not giving up on her and keeping her story out there, so we`re trying to do the same thing for our daughter.”

After they left the store, the Powell family released diary entries that they say Susan wrote when she was in her early teens.  Q13 Fox News is choosing not to reveal what was in those pages.

The clash comes as police continued searching in the desert surrounding Ely, Nev. Investigators said they're following up on what they deemed a credible lead regarding the Powell case. 

Police said the lead was generated from information in a sealed search warrant served in connection with the search for Susan Powell.

"The specifics, as you are very well aware, I am not able to discuss in any detail at all,” said West Valley City Police Sgt. Mike Powell. “We are here because the investigation has led us to this area and we are going to follow up on that information at this time."

Susan's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, said they have no idea what connection Susan would have had to Nevada, but they are grateful investigators are willing to follow leads.

"I was hoping to hear something in that press conference, [so] that we could say, that this is what's going on," Chuck Cox said.

At the 10 a.m. news conference Friday, police released few details, citing a secrecy order put in place by the courts. Sgt. Powell said a team of five investigators, including himself, are conducting the search and they invited the media to follow them.

While police did not divulge anything specific as to what the lead may be, they were seen searching dozens of abandoned mine shafts, many of them within a short walk from a county road.

"And so we're going back and clearing each one [mine shaft] as we come to them," said one law enforcement officer.

"I have talked with the West Valley City police and so they have now talked to me about it, but they did not share what the information was," Cox said. "They didn't tell me if they found a shoestring or a mass grave. They didn't say anything."

The Cox family said that they have been afraid to leave home and to get the phone call they've been dreading.

"It seems inappropriate to take a vacation," Cox said. "It's inappropriate to do anything except stay by the phone."

Susan, a 28-year-old mother of two young sons, went missing from her West Valley City home on Dec. 7, 2009.

After Susan's disappearance, her husband Josh and his two sons moved to Puyallup to live with his family. He believes the mother of their two sons ran off with another man. He also told Q13 FOX News that he is disappointed police have not found her yet.

Josh told reporters in Seattle he was overjoyed by the news of the search. Police are still calling him a person of interest in the case. He told police in 2009 that he took the couple's two young sons on a midnight camping trip in subfreezing temperatures on the night she disappeared.

"I want Susan to be found healthy and frankly, if possible, happy too," Josh said. "I do want my sons to be able to get to know her and be around her."

Susan's disappearance has divided the two families. Josh has filed a restraining order against Susan's father, Chuck.

The Powell family said their theory is that Susan ran away from her family and may have had an affair. Susan's parents say their daughter would never leave her two children.

Chuck Cox says his family is hoping the new search will lead to closure in the case.

Both families agree they should not focus on their legal battles, and focus on the search for Susan.

"Right now our daughter is missing," Chuck said. "And we want to get her face back out there so people are looking for her."

"Everything gives me hope," Chuck said. "Every morning we wake up with a hope that we are going to get a call and that she's gonna be found. Every night, we hope that we'll be woken up in the middle of the night with a call. It would be nice to have some closure."

Friends of Susan Powell in West Valley City are continuing their efforts to find her by distributing flyers Saturday to people on the corner of 5600 West and 3500 South from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in West Valley City.


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