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Posts Tagged ‘media’

I haven’t posted here in forever, it seems like…I started a new blog for the Week of Service effort in Susan’s honor, and all my time was taken up with that huge effort.  Then I got sick…really sick, with a terrible cold.  The months of stress, exhaustion, and worry finally caught up with me, I guess.

Now I’m better, and back at it with all my energy.  There is not a second of my day that goes by that I’m not thinking of Susan.  Even when I’m cooking dinner or reading to my kids, my mind is dwelling on her and her case.  It is so very hard to wait…wait for some new developments, some word from the police, for something to happen, for Susan to be found.

I’m currently reading three books about Elizabeth Smart (Bringing Elizabeth Home: A Journey of Faith and Hope, In Plain Sight: the Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation, and Held Captive: The Kidnapping and Rescue of Elizabeth Smart).  Like everyone else in the country, I followed Elizabeth’s case while it was all happening.  I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the shocking and miraculous news of Elizabeth’s return.  I remember calling my mother and both of us crying tears of joy for this girl and her family that we didn’t even know.

I know that Susan and Elizabeth hardly have anything in common…their circumstances are very different.  But I felt that it could only help to read about Elizabeth’s case and everything her family did to find her, to see if there was anything that would help us in our situation.  I find myself identifying so much with the things her family went through, feeling many of the same emotions, thinking and believing the same things they did. 

One huge thing that really helped Elizabeth’s story was the spectacular media coverage.  The Smart family did a terrific job of keeping Elizabeth in the news constantly, even when there was no news to be found.  We’ve tried to do the same with Susan, creating events and activities to make our own news when there isn’t anything official coming from police.  Keeping Susan’s face and name constantly in the public eye is so important.

We will be holding candlelight vigils this Saturday to mark the three-month point since Susan disappeared.  The one here in Salt Lake County will be held at Centennial Park in West Valley City.  Details:

What: Candlelight vigil for Susan Cox Powell

Where: Centennial Park, south-east corner of 3100 South and 5600 West in West Valley City

When: 7pm

Please come support Susan and her family.  Bring a candle and invite everyone you know.  Three months is FAR too long…this beautiful mother should have been reunited with her children long ago. 

If you don’t live in Salt Lake City or Puyallup, please consider holding your own vigil in your area.  If you do set one up, leave me a comment and I will publicize it on the official Find Susan Twitter account and the Facebook group.  You can call your local media, as well, to invite them.  The more coverage Susan’s story gets, the greater the chances of finding her. 

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I’ve been trying to decide for a couple of days whether I should post on this topic or not.  More than likely it’ll bring even more “haters” down on my head.  But this is my blog and I have just as much freedom of speech as anyone else, so I decided to do it.

First, I want to give a little background to both myself and the Facebook group I started.  I’ve told the Facebook group beginning to numerous media sources but the general public hasn’t yet heard it. 

About me: I’m 34 years old, originally from northern Wisconsin, a beautiful land covered in deep green forests and thousands of lakes and rivers. 

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County J, a beautiful road near Eagle River, Wisconsin

I’m the oldest of 7 kids.  I was homeschooled (except for one semester of high school when I attended full-time so I could take driver’s training) until college, which I attended in Utah.  I graduated from LDS Business College (LDSBC) with an Associate of Science degree, transferred to BYU, and graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts in English. 

I met my husband John at LDSBC in 1995.  We are both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS church) and both of us served as volunteer missionaries from 1996-1998.  We got married in May of 1998 a few months after coming home from our missions.  We now have three children, which I homeschool.  My husband works as a computer programmer.  I fill my spare time with writing, reading, knitting/crochet, music, and time with family and friends. 

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Detail from one of my knitting projects

John and I moved into our current home in West Valley in 2003.  Since we had both recently finished college and had 3 small kids, we were excited to make new friends and meet people.  But most young people in our area were still in school and working and too busy to have time for friends.  In the spring of 2004, Josh and Susan Powell bought a house in our neighborhood and came to church.  Their first Sunday at church we introduced ourselves and told them we’d love to have them over sometime to get to know them.  They said “Sure, that sounds great!”

We thought that was the end of that, assuming they were as busy as everyone else and wouldn’t have time.  But we were proved wrong the next Sunday when they asked, “Is today good for getting together?”

Since that time, we’ve been very, very close friends.  The Powells came over to our house at least once a week, many times more often.  We went on picnics together, babysat each other’s kids, went to parades and movies and other activities.  We stayed home and played games, watched movies, went on walks and bike rides. 

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Thanksgiving a few years ago with Josh, Susan, and my family

When Susan went missing three weeks ago, I was besieged with phone calls all day from members of my local congregation (called a “ward,” for those unfamiliar with LDS terms).  They knew I was in close contact with both Josh and Susan’s family and they wanted to stay in touch constantly.  I tried sending out mass update messages to my ward friends on Facebook but it just got too overwhelming to try to update everyone that way.

When Kayla Reed (ward member and friend) suggested that I start a Facebook group so we could all stay in touch easier, I thought it was a terrific idea.  I’d never started one before and didn’t know anything about it but the process was easy enough and took less than 5 minutes.  I started it at 6pm on Tuesday, December 8.  The purpose of this group was to give the ward members a chance to easily interact/comfort/share news with each other about Susan’s disappearance. 

I had no idea it would expand so quickly.  No idea that Susan’s family and Josh’s family would visit the page to update us all on the search for Susan AND to receive much-needed comfort and support.  No idea that it would become “Search Central” with a wealth of information on donations to Susan’s family, lists of people with specialized volunteer help, people willing to do a physical search, and many other topics.  No idea that thousands upon thousands of people from all over the world would join to get news, updates, and express their prayers and support for Susan’s family.  No idea that this little group would become such an invaluable tool for finding Susan.  Within days we were over several thousand members and now, less than three weeks later, the group membership is over 10,000.  The purpose of the group has changed a little, and I’ve had to “hire” additional administrators (these other admins are volunteers and doing hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes work on YouTube channels, social media, and other things to help find Susan…and all of this in addition to their regular full-time jobs, families, and normal busy lives). 

Like anything in life, with growth comes problems.  We’ve asked—as have Susan’s and Josh’s families—over and over that no one posts anything negative, hurtful, speculative, or accusatory on this Facebook group.  99% of the group members have honored this request.  But some have not, and they’ve had their posts deleted and if they’re repeat offenders, we’ve had to ban them from posting to the group.  Also, I have found myself, to my surprise and disgust, bearing the brunt of many online attacks from anything from my physical appearance to accusations of “wanting fame” and “trying to get rich” from Susan’s story. 

These accusations are very hurtful.  They cause tons of additional pain to myself and those of us who are already hurting so much that it seems impossible we can feel any more pain.  People want to know, Why are you still friends with Josh?  Why aren’t you physically searching all day long?  Why don’t you ask Josh, if he’s still your friend, all the questions people want to know?

When I tell people the answers to these questions, they either 1) don’t believe me or 2) dismiss my answer as something they don’t want to hear and would rather belittle, criticize, and make fun of. 

Here, once and for all is the short answer to those questions: You don’t know all the details here.  There are many, many details of Susan’s background/relationship with Josh/etc. that have NOT been made public.  And you WILL NOT hear them from me, either.  My whole goal, focus and priority here is to find Susan.  This includes not telling the world things the police want kept inside the investigation

There are things the general public has never even thought of, about this investigation.  And it’s going to stay that way.  I’m not going to explain my reasons for remaining Josh’s friend or what I have or haven’t asked him.  What I will do (and have done) is tell the police any and all information I have that will help them find Susan. 

And as for physically searching?  Yes, I’ve seen the comments out there.  Some people think they can use the internet to spew poison and vitriol on anything and anyone they want to because they’re “safely anonymous.”  So they can say anything they want about anyone, no matter if it’s slander or libel or defaming someone’s character and reputation.  Not to mention, cruel, hurtful, and tearing someone’s soul to shreds.

Here’s the lowdown on the physical search: Chuck Cox, Susan’s father, has said that if anyone wants to do their own search, you must contact the West Valley PD.  Get their permission and register a record of where in the wilderness you want to search and then report back to them after you’re done.

As for me?  People are always asking me what I believe happened to Susan.  I’ve imagined many horrible scenarios but the one I believe most likely (for reasons I won’t share, but I will say they’re good reasons) is that Susan has been taken against her will and is most likely not in the state of Utah.  This is why I personally am not out searching the desert or mountains with my three little kids.  I won’t waste my time or resources fruitlessly looking for someone who may not even be in the state.  Instead, what I believe to be the greatest help here is the vast power of the internet. 

I’ve seen how fast something can spread across the internet.  It’s a very powerful tool.  I know the “haters” will keep laughing at me for doing this, saying I’m wasting my time and it won’t do a bit of good because they believe Josh has done the unthinkable and that Susan’s body is dumped somewhere close by.  So, according to them, I’m dumb and naive (and worse) for believing anything else. 

Well, guess what…as I said above, I have my reasons for believing what I believe and I’m not going to share them with anyone but the police.  So here’s a suggestion to all the “armchair detectives” and “amateur gumshoes” and all the rest who want to spend their day criticizing, defaming, and hurting others with their cruel words: why don’t you start using your energy to HELP find Susan instead of HURT? 

But I suppose I’m wasting my breath.  If you really cared, you’d be either joining our effort to post fliers in every state and city or spread the word online or else coming up with your own effort.  You see, unlike you, I believe and hope that Susan is still alive.  And even if she isn’t, I also believe that someone, somewhere, knows or has seen something that will help us find her.  So yes, I believe I am not wasting my time by doing everything I can do—especially online—to spread her name and picture to the far corners of the globe. 

I want my friend back.  More than anything else in the world.  If you want to find her, please help in a constructive way…not by tearing down and hurting others.

One last thing.  As to accusations of wanting fame and money from this?  Wow.  That is the most hurtful of all.  I would not take one penny from ANYONE in the media or anywhere else in this effort to find Susan.  And I know very well that I’m no model—I do not like being on camera and I hate the sound of my recorded voice.  Please believe me when I say that appearing on local and national TV are the last things I want to be doing with my time.  I would not do any of the media interviews if I didn’t believe it helps get her name and story out to the world.  And I can promise you that I have never, EVER contacted a single media outlet, asking them to come interview me.  They all call me…e-mail me…show up at my house unannounced. 

But I know you probably won’t believe that, either.  So go ahead with your time-wasting hatred that doesn’t do anyone one bit of good (especially yourselves).  As for me and my friends and the thousands of people that truly care about Susan, we’re going to spend all of our time and energy on helping any way we can to find our Susan and get her back to her family.

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Since my closest friend Susan Powell went missing one week ago, my life has changed forever.

I have felt heartache of such a deep kind that I hope anyone reading this never has to experience.

I have cried, and cried, and cried some more, pulled myself together, fallen apart again.

I have prayed hundreds of prayers.

I have become part of a very special community…both online (through the Friends and Family of Susan Powell Facebook group) and in real life, as complete strangers from different parts of Susan’s world have met each other and hugged and cried, both together and reaching through virtual space.

But most of all, my life has been ruled this past week by the media. 

The media: so strong, so powerful.  So often wrong, so sensationalized, so quick to spread rumors as truth.  But also, a powerful tool we can and must use to get Susan back. 

It began Wednesday morning, day 3 since Susan went missing.  I was doing school with my children and fresh out of the shower (damp hair, ratty old clothes) when there was a knock at my door.  You could’ve knocked me over with a feather when I answered it and found Marcos Ortiz and ABC-4 at my door, wanting to come in for an interview.

Why?  I guess because I’m Susan’s best friend.  Because I was one of the last ones to see her.  And because I started the Facebook group the night before, simply as a way for us as a church congregation/family to keep in touch and share updates, news, and comfort. 

The ABC-4 crew graciously gave me 5 minutes to look a little more presentable before they filmed my first-ever TV interview.  Scary?  Terrifying.  I’m not comfortable with my physical appearance on any day, let alone on TV.  But I did it because I want to help Susan.  The more people that see, the greater the chance that someone knows where she is. 

After they left I thought “that was very surreal” and prepared to return to my day.  Soon after, there was another knock at the door—this time Chris Jones with KUTV-2.  A couple of hours later, I received a phone call from KSL and Sandra Yi and crew were soon at my house. 

Thursday morning I believed that since I’d done three of the four TV networks in town, that’d be the end of it. 

The opposite was true.  Another knock at my door—this time the Deseret News.  Later in the day, Chris Jones was back.  And soon after that, the 4th TV station in town—Arrika Von and Fox 13. 

Meanwhile, the Facebook group had exploded with hundreds of new members in less than 2 days.  I received a huge and unexpected support/help in Damon Talbot, president of the non-profit Destiny Search Project.  He has been an invaluable adviser to help us organize and focus our efforts on better ways to help with the search for Susan.  Damon suggested we hold a candlelight vigil that night…to gather people in love for Susan, and to provide more publicity.

We did, and it was very successful.  All the TV stations and newspapers in town had reporters there, and there was a wonderful feeling of shared love.  I spoke with more reporters as well as the Salt Lake Tribune.

Friday morning things got even crazier when the national news shows started contacting me.  I heard from CBS, CNN, FOX national, and others.  I was scheduled for a live interview with the CBS Early Show in New York City on Saturday morning, with a car coming to pick me up at 4:30am, along with Debbie, Susan’s excellent childcare provider. 

You haven’t experienced strange/surreal until you’re sitting in a chair, covered in layers of makeup, with an earpiece in your ear, staring into a camera and talking to someone thousands of miles away. 

The rest of the day on Saturday was very busy.  I had two events to attend with my children (they performed with their dance studio and we went to the Mountain West Ballet’s Nutcracker that night) and managed to get a two-hour nap in (after only getting one hour of sleep the night before…I was afraid I’d oversleep and miss the car).  I talked to many more reporters on the phone, attended a lovely special fast/prayer meeting for Susan at our church, did a phone interview with AP Radio out of Washington DC as I was driving my kids to the Nutcracker.  CBS called back and wanted to do another taped interview at some point on Sunday.

This morning—Sunday—my phone rang the second I turned it on.  This time it was Jason from Good Morning America.  They wanted to do an interview, too.  And a few minutes later, it was FOX…also wanted an interview. 

Things got a bit crazy during the day as the networks juggled what they wanted to do, but I ended up doing two taped interviews with CBS and GMA crews in my home this afternoon/evening.

Do I love being on camera?  NO.  No, no, and again, no.  It is embarrassing.  It’s hard.  It is most un-flattering.  It’s not fun.  And crying on camera never looks good—unless you’re an actress.  But I keep telling myself: the more interviews I do—the more people I talk to—the more places this story goes—the greater the chances of someone finding a tip or a lead or a clue that will lead the police to Susan!!

I want to publicly thank my friend Emily for being a true friend.  She came over today: spent her day cleaning my house, cooking us a delicious dinner, and doing laundry.  She has never even met Susan in person.  And my friends from church have been praying for me all week, offering any kind of help I can imagine, and giving me soft shoulders to cry on. 

Please, everyone, let’s keep spreading this story.  Keep Susan in the public eye, mind, and heart.  Share her posters and videos via Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, blogs.  Print off fliers and take them around.  Join our Facebook group and become part of our community.  Help us bring Susan home!!

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