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COLD podcast inspires new search of West Desert

SALT LAKE CITY — Nine years after the disappearance of Susan Powell, the Utah Cold Case Coalition is mounting a new search in the West Desert.

In light of information released on Cold, KSL’s podcast about the Powell case, the group plans to hire an unnamed company to re-examine an abandoned mine shaft in Utah’s West Desert. Coalition co-founder Karra Porter told the Associated Press that the shaft was not searched properly before the investigation was closed and that it may still hold bone fragments, clothing or jewelry linked to Powell.

KSL’s Jay McFarland interviewed Cold creator Dave Cawley about his podcast’s role in inspiring new interest, questions and theories about a case declared “cold” years ago.

“The word that comes to mind for me is ‘crowdsourcing,'” McFarland said on Thursday’s episode of The JayMac News Show. “This investigation in many ways, now that all of this information is getting out, is getting crowdsourced. More minds, more thoughts, more ideas, more power.”

Cawley agreed, hailing the public’s ability to contribute information that authorities may not have known they were missing. A listener who owns a mining claim in the West Desert recently reached out to him with information about the geography of the area, Cawley said, allowing him to correct a small mistake in his maps of relevant locations.

“That fine grain detail is so important,” Cawley told McFarland. “Members of the public look at this and say, ‘Okay, where can we look? Where has been searched? What needs to maybe be looked at again with fresh eyes?’ So we really want to bring that fine detail to this effort.”

Private citizens also approach cold cases from a different perspective than police, Cawley said, which is particularly relevant when suspects or persons of interest are no longer alive to arrest.

“The police mindset — the way they approach a case — is based on trying to get an arrest and a conviction,” Cawley said. “Sometimes when you throw it out into the public, people that don’t have that same direction and drive will come at the problem from a different angle and they’ll think of things that a police officer might not.”

Josh Powell, Susan’s husband and the only person of interest ever named in her disappearance, killed himself and their two sons in 2012.  While Powell will never face justice, Cawley and McFarland hope that Cold will bring some measure of closure to the Powells’ family and community.

“All of us who followed this story over the years have had a lot of questions about why certain things were done in the ways that they were,” Cawley said in reference to the mechanics of the investigation. “My hope is that by really taking this out and just examining it, you can provide those answers. And even if those answers don’t change the outcome, it allows people to go, ‘I understand it and I can put those questions to rest.'”

McFarland agreed.

“I think as a society, we’re better off knowing where every missing person went and solving every murder, even if there’s never a conviction because that time has passed,” McFarland said. “Justice demands it. It’s just important.”

Listen to Cold on the KSL Newsradio website or on Apple Podcasts

About The KSL COLD Podcast

Susan Powell vanished on Dec. 7, 2009. Her body has never been found. From the beginning, West Valley City, Utah police suspected Susan’s husband, Josh Powell, had murdered her. They never arrested him. The KSL podcast COLD debuted in November 2018 and dives deep into the Susan Powell case files, uncovering never-before-heard details. In the podcast, you’ll learn why Susan stayed with an abusive husband, why Josh did what he did and how the justice system failed Susan and her two boys.