Missing Utah mom's family prays for her return

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (AP) - Friends and family of a 28-year-old mother who disappeared nearly a week ago are fasting and praying for her safe return as volunteers post thousands of fliers with her image on it.

Susan Powell was reported missing Monday under what police are calling suspicious circumstances. A prayer service attended by about 100 people was held for her Saturday in West Valley City.

Since she was reported missing, authorities have questioned her husband and searched a desert area where he said he took the couple's two young children, ages 2 and 4, camping early Monday morning in freezing conditions.

Josh Powell returned Monday night, after police had already received a call from relatives who had not heard from the Powell family.

He declined to answer questions from The Associated Press on Saturday.

"I can't say anything," he said following the prayer service.

Meanwhile, Susan Powell's father, Charles Cox, flew in from Puyallup, Wash., south of Seattle, on Friday to aid in the search. He spent Saturday morning granting dozens of interviews to media outlets around the country in an effort to keep his daughter's name and picture in the news.

While Cox and Josh Powell shared a brief hug before the prayer service began, Cox said the only conversation he's had with him since his daughter was reported missing was on Tuesday.

Cox didn't attend a news conference Saturday organized by Josh Powell's brother-in-law, Kirk Graves, in which Graves said Josh Powell's side of the family is still hopeful Susan will come home. Cox said he's concerned too much attention is being placed on Josh Powell.

"I'm kind of concerned that all the focus is on him at the present. I mean he's told his story - believable or not - and I don't see him as capable of harming her," Cox said. "And the more time spent on him, the less time there is looking at other possibilities."

About 30 detectives have been assigned to find out what happened to Susan Powell. West Valley City Police Capt. Tom McLachlan says police haven't been able to verify Josh Powell's story because snow had covered the spot along The Pony Express Trail where he said he took the children.

Complicating the search for Susan Powell, McLachlan said police don't have a description of the clothing she was wearing when Josh Powell last saw her about 12:30 a.m. Monday.

Susan Powell's friend, Kiirsi Hellewell, said she saw her Sunday afternoon walking home from church, which Josh Powell did not attend.

JoVonna Owings said she had dinner with the couple and their children around 4 p.m. and that Susan Powell was wearing a long-sleeve black shirt and black pants.

Hellewell described her friend as a "girly girl" who liked to get dressed up when she went out with friends and make blankets for friends at church.

While Hellewell described the couple as spontaneous, she said the winter camping trip seemed out-of-character.

"They might go camping, but they would not do it in the winter, they would not do it in the middle of night and they wouldn't do it when they were expected at work the next day," she said.


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