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Five full-time detectives on Susan Powell case

Published August 26, 2010 9:25 am

West Valley City • Search has cost more than $150,000, though exact figure unknown.
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Add all the hours West Valley City detectives have spent investigating Susan Powell's disappearance and it would be more than three years' worth of what most Americans put into their job.

Police Capt. Anita Schwemmer on Wednesday said detectives in her department have spent at least 6,850 man hours to date searching for Powell, at a cost of more than $150,000. And the meter is still running.

Five of the department's 28 detectives are assigned full-time to investigating Powell's disappearance.

"I don't even have a guess as to how close we are to a resolution," Schwemmer said. She declined to discuss evidence or leads in the case.

Schwemmer said the cost assumes an officer earns $22 an hour, but she acknowledged detectives typically earn more than that. The department has not tallied all costs associated with the Powell search, Schwemmer said.

"I really couldn't even guess at that," she said.

Powell, a mother of two who had worked in banking, went missing Dec. 7 from her West Valley City home. Her husband, Josh Powell, has said he took his young sons on a late-night camping trip to Simpson Springs in Tooele County and when he returned his wife was gone.

Josh Powell is the only person of interest West Valley City police have named. He gave an interview to police early in the case but has not spoken to them since. Schwemmer said again Wednesday she would like Josh Powell to consent to an interview.

The five detectives' overtime hours are not counted in the 6,850 figure, Schwemmer said, nor does it include the hours regular patrol officers have spent looking for Powell.

Crime-scene technicians and other West Valley City personnel also have participated in an investigation that has included multiple search warrants executed on the Powell home and visits to the West Desert campsite Josh Powell claims he visited. The department has acknowledged also searching some mines near the campground.

Shelby Gifford, a spokeswoman for Susan Cox Powell's parents, said they believe West Valley City has applied the right amount of staff to the investigation.

"They're working with an impossible set of facts," Gifford said. "I really feel for them."

In one sign of how the Powell case may be consuming resources, the West Valley City Council in February allocated an extra $11,282 from an unclaimed-property fund to the police department.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com —

How the Powell search compares

Though direct comparisons are difficult, here is a look at some costs associated with other high-profile searches in Utah.

Lori Hacking • In the first four months after Hacking's disappearance, law enforcement spent at least $312,720 on her case, according to a Tribune review published at the time. The bulk of those expenses came from searching a landfill for Hacking's body. Salt Lake City's portion of the bill was $105,000.

Elizabeth Smart • A cost for the Smart case has not been published. However, the case put such a strain on the Salt Lake City Police Department's finances, it changed its budgeting to create a special pool of funds for labor-intensive cases.






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