Susan Powell, 28, vanished on December 7, 2009. At around midnight on a cold, blizzard-ridden December 6, her husband, Josh Powell, decided to take his two sons, then aged 4 and 2, camping. When he left, Susan was sleeping quietly. When he returned later the next day, Susan was gone. Josh’s evasive answers and odd behavior led police to suspect he was responsible for Susan’s disappearance. But they never had enough evidence to convict him.
Over the next two years, tales emerged of a troubled marriage and controlling and abusive husband. What began as a missing person’s case led to the murder-suicide of Susan’s two young sons and her husband. Susan Powell is still missing but presumed dead.
Here is an in-depth look at the life and marriage of Susan and Josh Powell, the events of her mysterious disappearance on December 7, 2009, the investigation, and subsequent tragedies.
2000 – Joshua Powell Meets Susan Cox
In 2000, Joshua Powell met Susan Cox when he was 24 and she was 19. It was at a function held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Puyallup, Washington.
Five months later, in April 2001, the couple married at the LDS Portland Temple. By all accounts, the early days of the marriage were happy and the couple did not have financial difficulties.Early in their marriage, the couple lived with Josh’s father, Steven Powell, in Puyallup. It had been eight years since Steven had divorced his wife, Terrica “Terri” Powell.
Eventually, Susan and Josh took a job managing a retirement home. It was more than just a full-time job, it was 24/7. But they didn’t make enough money to start a family.
2004 – Josh and Susan Powell Move to Utah for a Fresh Start
They worked at the retirement home for a year and then decided to relocate to Utah. In 2004, Susan and Joshua left Washington “for a fresh start.” They chose Utah in part because Josh’s sister, Jennifer Graves, and his mother, Terrica Powell, lived there.
Susan also wanted to get Josh away from his father Steven, who, she said, had too much say in his life. The more he talked to his father, the more distant he became with Susan. Moving to Utah, she hoped, would allow her to reconnect with Josh.
The couple settled in West Valley City, a suburb just 15 minutes southwest of Salt Lake City.
Joshua operated a home-based business called Polished Marketing that created web sites and logos. He also worked as a computer programmer for a trucking and warehousing company.
Susan, though trained in cosmetology, worked as a stock broker for Wells Fargo Financial.
On January 19, 2005, the couple had their first son, Charles. Their second son, Braden, was born two years later, on January 2, 2007.
2007 – Josh Files for Bankruptcy
Unfortunately, a fresh start didn’t necessarily mean it would be a second honeymoon.
Shortly after their second son was born, the couple’s financial situation came to a breaking point. Josh filed for bankruptcy, listing more than $200,000 in credit card, furniture, student loan, and other debts.
Even before the stress of the bankruptcy took its toll, friends were advising Susan to leave Josh. He had become increasingly controlling and verbally and emotionally abusive. And, according to Susan’s family, Josh was, on at least one occasion, physically abusive. But she never filed a police report or sought medical treatment.
2008 – Cracks Start to Appear in the Powell Marriage
From the outside, they looked like the perfect family: picnics, bike rides, and family get-togethers. But those closest to Susan Powell knew the dark truth about her marriage to Josh.
In the summer of 2008, Susan was struggling, looking for ways to improve her relationship with Josh. The couple had started arguing a lot—about their marriage, communication, families, and religious beliefs.
Yet there were other incidents that could have created lasting friction. There had been some early fallout when they’d first started dating, after Josh’s father Steven made sexual advances toward Susan.
As time went by, Josh thought it was time to forgive and forget and move on. After all, the couple had lived with Steven when they were first married and he didn’t believe there was any sexual tension between his wife and father.
But it wasn’t easy for Susan to simply forgive and forget.
On top of that, the man Susan had married had changed. In dozens of e-mails sent to friends, Susan said Josh had turned from a fun-loving, affectionate man into a surly, moody, and controlling man she believed could harm her.
June to October 2008 – Susan Powell Pours Heart out to Friends
Over a five-month period in 2008, Susan Powell sent e-mails to a number of friends, co-workers, and members of her church to talk about her frustration with Josh and get advice on what she should do.
On a June trip to Washington State for her sister’s wedding, Susan wrote about how Josh was “being his usually ‘rude, yelling and barking commands at me’ –self.”
Susan also wrote about feeling uncomfortable with a song that her father-in-law had written about her.
In another e-mail, Susan wrote about an argument the couple had. She said that Josh had accused her of having “utter contempt” for him because he didn’t have a regular job. She also complained that Josh was angry because she spent too much money on groceries.
In a July 5, 2008 e-mail, Susan wrote, “Josh says Susan needs to: not spend $ on counseling…or anything else (his examples: ‘make-up, yarn, or other crap you buy.’)”
In fact, it later emerged that Josh had forced Susan to grow their own food in the garden, refusing to give her money to buy groceries.
On July 11, 2008, Susan e-mailed a friend, “I want him in counseling, on meds, I want my husband, friend, lover BACK no more crazy, outrageous, outlandish beliefs/opinions.”
In another e-mail dated July 28, 2008, she wrote, “I know everyone else will support me in whatever decisions, even if that means I crash anyone’s house in the middle of the night with my boys in tow. (Hope that never happens) or stay with him. But believe me, my bottom line is he WILL DO COUNSELING.”
Susan’s e-mails also show her growing disappointment with Josh’s lack of affection and how drastically their relationship had changed from the early days.
“I’m sure if he fixes himself, everyone else will see a much closer version of the guy I married. And it will be easy enough to forget the hell and turmoil he’s put me through.”
She also wrote about leaving a makeshift will in her desk at work and being worried Josh might hurt her or kidnap their children if she tried to leave him. Susan was also optimistic, though, and hoped the two could somehow reconcile.
July 29, 2008 – Susan Powell Talks about Life, Family, Possessions
It was during this period of depression and marital strife that Susan Powell, on the advice of an attorney, shot a video documenting her life, family, and expensive possessions in her home, in the event of any “fire, flood, damage, disputes.”
Despite being concerned about money, Josh had a penchant for spending. In the video, Susan points out all of Josh’s computers; 3,000 pounds of wheat stored in the basement; expensive power tools purchased from Home Depot, using Susan’s credit card; boxes and drawers full of hand tools; a remote-control car worth $3,000; a $300.00 remote; a stereo; a Nikon digital camera; etc.
From the video, it’s not too difficult to see how Josh could have racked up $200,000 in debt.
August 2009 – Susan and Josh Enter Counseling
Susan and Josh actually started going to counseling in August 2009. But by all accounts, it was too late.
Josh had threatened her on numerous occasions and threatened to take their sons and leave her. She took the threats seriously. Susan was planning her escape and opened a private bank account that only she had access to.
December 6, 2009 – The Last Time Anyone Sees Susan Powell
Noon – Susan Powell, 28, took her two sons to church, then walked home with her friend Kiirsi Hellewell.
Afternoon – JoVonna Owings, a friend, came by in the afternoon to spend some time with Susan. The family had pancakes and eggs for dinner. Susan, feeling tired, lay down to take a nap at around 5:00 p.m. Owings left. Josh did as well, taking their two sons sledding.
8:30 p.m. – A neighbor saw Josh return home.
Midnight – At around midnight, on a cold winter night, during a blizzard, Josh apparently decided it was a good idea to take his two sons, then aged 4 and 2, camping at the Simpson Springs Campground in the remote west desert of Tooele County. When he left, Susan was allegedly sleeping in bed.
December 7, 2009 – Susan Fails to Show up at Work
9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. – The Powells’ daycare provider was concerned because the couple hadn’t dropped their sons off. Neither of them could be reached by cellphone or at home. She contacted Josh Powell’s mother and sister, who called police after they failed to locate the pair.
Police broke into the Powells’ home, fearing they might have been victims of carbon monoxide poisoning. They found the house empty and noticed two fans blowing on a wet spot on the carpet.
Evening – Sometime between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., Josh returned home with his sons.
Police found Susan’s cellphone in his van; the digital SIM card had been removed. Josh couldn’t explain to police why he had her phone.
He was taken to the West Valley police station to be questioned. When asked why he didn’t drop his kids off at the daycare or call his boss to say why he wouldn’t be coming into work, Josh said he was confused, “somehow thinking it was Sunday.”
December 8, 2009 – Josh Interviewed by Police a Second Time
11:00 a.m. – Josh Powell called Susan’s father, Chuck Cox, and told him Susan was missing. He also said he was being interviewed by police for a second time.
December 9, 2009 – Police Search Powell Residence
Police served a search warrant on the Powell residence for clues into Susan’s disappearance. They removed boxes, bags, and a computer. Josh was not yet named as a suspect.
West Valley police focused their attention on “blood stain patterns” found on the sofa, carpet, and floor of the Powells’ home. Detectives believed “that someone was injured and lost blood while on the sofa inside the residence.”
Forensic testing would later confirm that the blood was Susan Powell’s.
Detectives also noted that “there was nothing missing from the residence, there was no signs of forced entry and it didn’t appear there was a robbery, home invasion, burglary or signs of a struggle.”
Bizarrely, Josh claimed he had washed the couch before taking his kids camping. He gave no reason for why it needed to be washed. But he said the chores were a trade-off that evening; he’d wash the couch and Susan would shovel the driveway.
Friends and neighbors said Josh showed little interest in finding Susan and was oddly calm about her disappearance.
“They’ve had problems for a very long time and that’s very obvious when you spend a short time with them, you can tell…they’re roommates,” friend Tim Peterson said.
Friends also said that Josh wouldn’t talk about Susan when they asked where she was. Instead, he chatted about himself.
“He was talking about his kids, about his clothes, about his sleep. He was talking about his van that police took,” Peterson said. “He was talking about his house—talking like, I wonder if my bird is dead.”
The day after Susan Powell was reported missing, Josh Powell rented a car at the Salt Lake City airport. He returned it two days later, having put more than 800 miles on the speedometer.
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December 10, 2009 – No Sign of Alleged Campground
Police searched the Simpson Springs area where Josh claimed he went camping with his sons. But they failed to find any signs of the campsite.
December 13, 2009 – Charlie’s Conflicting Story
When interviewed by investigators the day after Susan Powell was reported missing, her son Charlie, who was 4 at the time, told detectives that “his mother had gone with them camping on Sunday and that for some reason she stayed at the campsite and did not return home with them.”
In a December 13, 2009 affidavit, police quoted Charlie as saying that his mother “had gone with them but decided to stay there.”
Months later, Chuck Cox said that Susan’s other son, Braden, drew a picture at daycare of a van with three people in it. He told caregivers that it was a picture of the family going camping; “Mommy’s in the trunk.”
December 14, 2009 – Josh Hires an Attorney and Dodges Police
Josh hired defense attorney Scott C. Williams and promptly skipped a third interview with West Valley City police. The next day, police announced this development and said that Josh was getting in the way of finding Susan.
That same day, Josh contacted Charlie and Braden’s daycare provider and told an employee the children would not be coming back and “she probably will not ever see them again.”
December 15, 2009 – More Odd Behavior from Josh
The day after withdrawing his kids from daycare, Josh cancelled all of Susan’s chiropractor appointments.
December 16, 2009 – Josh Meets with Police Again
Josh was questioned by police again. This time, they named him as a person of interest. The only person to be named so in the case.
December 17, 2009 – Josh Clears out Susan’s Retirement Accounts
Ten days after Susan was reported missing, Josh cleaned out her retirement accounts.
December 2009 – Josh Makes Bizarre Claim at Company Christmas Party
According to a warrant filed in 2010, police said that Josh Powell told co-workers at a company Christmas party—apparently just days after his wife vanished—“that in order to get away with murder, he would hide a body in a mineshaft in the west desert of Utah. He believed he could hide this from law enforcement as they would never search an unstable mine.”
December 31, 2009 – Police Seeking Powells’ Bank Records
By the end of 2009, West Valley police were looking into the Powells’ bank records and insurance policies.
Interestingly, on June 28, 2009, just a few months before Susan Powell went missing, her husband Josh took out a New York Life Insurance policy on Susan worth an estimated $1.o million. The policy was worth $250,000 for each of his two sons, Braden and Charlie.
January 6, 2010 – Josh Moves the Family to Puyallup, WA
Josh worked quickly after learning the devastating news that his wife had mysteriously vanished. He liquidated her accounts, canceled her regular chiropractic session, and took his kids out of daycare…as if he knew Susan would never be found.
Then, on January 6, 2010, Josh and his brother, Michael Powell, packed up the family’s belongings.
Josh had allegedly been fired from his job and he didn’t believe he would be able to keep the home. So, he packed up and moved his family back to Puyallup—once again, living with his father.
It was here that he claimed mental illness and instability had led Susan to run away.
Later in the month, Josh would return to West Valley City to make repairs on the house so he could rent it.
January 29, 2010 – Police Seize Blue Minivan
West Valley City police served a search warrant on Josh Powell and seized the blue minivan he had driven the night Susan disappeared.
February 15, 2010 – Cox Family Holds News Conference
Members of the Cox family held a news conference in Puyallup, Washington. The family claimed that Josh had been physically abusive with their daughter and detailed the couple’s problems, including Josh’s controlling behavior.
They confessed that Susan had told them and her friends she would end her relationship with Josh by their April 6 anniversary date if the relationship didn’t improve.
They also announced a nonprofit organization in Susan’s name aimed at helping families of missing persons.
April 2010 – Detectives Find Steven’s Obsession with Susan Odd
By April 2010, West Valley investigators were documenting the very odd and strange obsession Steven Powell had with his daughter-in-law, Susan. They noted that Steven “had offered to accept the Joshua and Susan Powell family into his home, and Susan would become a type of additional wife, with their family, to be cared for by him.”
August 2010 – Woman Tells Police She Was Having an Affair with Josh
In August 2010, police contacted a West Valley City woman after her phone number was found in Josh Powell’s phone records. She told investigators she’d been in a sexual relationship with Josh after meeting him through a dating service about six or seven months before Susan Powell vanished.
The woman did not know Josh as Josh; he went by the name John Staley. Nor did she know he was married. She only found out after she watched news coverage of the case. It was then that she also clued in to the fact that his name wasn’t John Staley.
She told investigators that she and Josh had sex five or six times in different areas of Salt Lake Valley. Josh Powell also gave her around $800.00 during this time frame, she said. The woman took detectives on a tour of the various places where she and Josh had sex—always during the daytime.
November 8, 2010 – Josh Says Susan Ran Away to Avoid Family
In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Josh Powell broke his long-held silence and explained what he thought had driven Susan to vanish. He said that Susan was “extremely unstable” and that mental illness had driven her to leave her family.
There was a good chance she would return, he claimed. But for that to happen, her family and the public had to stop looking for her.“She knows she will be chewed up like hamburger when she comes back,” Josh Powell said.
He added that Susan’s family had created an image of Susan that was simply too difficult for her to live up to.
“She can’t come back with them treating her this way,” Josh said. “They want her to be perfect, a saint with no fallibility.”
December 6, 2010 – Josh Claims Susan Ran Away with a Lover
Josh and his father Steven soon made another claim about Susan’s disappearance. This time, the pair claimed that Susan had run off with a Utah man by the name of Steven Koecher, who disappeared in Nevada in December 2009.
The Powells said the pair had stolen off to Brazil where Koecher served his LDS mission. The pair had probably married and started a new life, they argued.
August 18, 2011 – A Break in the Case?
West Valley City police believed there might have been a break in the case and announced that they would search an area in Ely, Nevada.
The media were invited to watch investigators search abandoned mine shafts in the area. But after two days of searching, police found nothing.
August 25, 2011 – Steven Powell Makes Astonishing Claim
Steven Powell made yet another astonishing claim about Susan. This time, he claimed that he and Susan had a romantic relationship and that he had become obsessed with her.
“Frankly, after a long period of time, a year or two of her approaching me and being the one that was really initiating things and trying to titillate me and get my attention, yeah, I became very interested in her.”
September 12, 2011 – Cadaver Dogs Make Positive Hit
Police began a multi-day search for Susan Powell in a well-known area in the West Desert near Delta, Utah.
Two days into the search, cadaver dogs found what West Valley City police described as human remains. They recovered approximately 100 pieces of charred wood for forensic analysis, saying it could have been used to burn a body.
September 22, 2011 – Steven Powell Arrested for Voyeurism
Ever the charmer, Steven Powell, 61, was arrested on September 22, 2011, charged with 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
The arrest stemmed from the discovery of “thousands of images of females being videotaped without their knowledge” in his home—including some images of the missing Susan Powell. Investigators found the images after seizing computer disks while looking for evidence in the disappearance of Susan Powell.
Some of the videos featured victims as young as eight years of age. The photos depicted women and girls in various states of undress.
Investigators said it appeared as though some of the photos were taken from inside Steven Powell’s home. It was thought that they were taken from June 2006 to August 2007, when some of the victims lived next door.
Steven Powell was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. He walked free from prison in July 2017.
September 2011 – Josh Loses Custody of His Sons
Josh’s two sons, Charles and Braden, were placed in foster care on September 22, 2011, and then placed with Susan’s parents, Charles and Judy Cox, on September 27, 2011.
The children were taken away from Josh Powell because his father Steven had been arrested on multiple charges of voyeurism and possession of child pornography.
Joshua Powell, his two sons, his sister Alina, his brother John, and Steven all lived in the same house when the children were removed. Police could not be certain that other family members living in the home were involved in the same activities that Steven Powell had been charged with.
September 28, 2011 – Powell Children to Remain in Custody of Cox Family
After a two-day hearing, it was determined that the Cox family would continue to have temporary custody of Charles and Braden. At least until investigators learned what Josh might or might not have known about his father’s activities. The fact that he was a person of interest in his wife Susan Powell’s disappearance didn’t help his case.
January 2012 – Family of Josh Powell Accuses Cox Family of Abusing Boys
Just days before a scheduled custody hearing, the Powell family launched a web site that alleged Judy and Chuck Cox had either abused the two boys or allowed harm to come to them.
By the end of the month, the web site was listed as “disabled.”
February 1, 2012 – Judge Orders Boys to Remain with Coxes
A judge in Washington State ordered Powell’s sons, Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5, to remain in the custody of their grandparents, Judy and Chuck Cox.
In light of the 2009 raid at the Powells’ West Valley City home that found explicit images on a computer, the court also ordered Josh Powell to undergo a psychosexual evaluation by a court-appointed examiner.
February 5, 2012 – It All Comes to a Head
Josh Powell did not take losing custody of his two sons well at all.
In fact, it appeared as though he had decided to murder them right after the court order was made. He had $6,500 and left instructions for his sister to pay bills. Whatever was left over was to go to his lawyer. Over the weekend, he also took all of his sons’ toys to Goodwill.
On Sunday, February 5, Charlie and Braden, along with a woman who supervised the court-ordered visit, arrived at Josh’s rented home at noon. The supervisor said the boys were happy to see their father because he said he had something special for them.
The boys went into their father’s house, but before the supervisor could enter, Josh shut the door in her face, locking her out.
It was then that the supervisor called 911. In the call, she said that Josh was “on a very short leash with DSHS [Department of Social and Health Services] and CPP [Community Protection Program] has been involved.”
She then added, “I would like to pull out of the driveway because I smell gasoline and he won’t let me in. This could be life-threatening…and I’m afraid for their lives.”
Once the boys were inside, Josh took an ax and struck Braden and Charlie. Josh then scattered gas around the house, tossing it on the walls, floors, and ceiling.
Before setting fire to the residence, he e-mailed his custody attorney, Jeffrey Bassett: “I’m sorry, goodbye.”
Josh then put a five-gallon gas can by the front door, placed another between his knees, and lit a match.
How big of a blast did that create? One gallon of vaporized gas is the equivalent of three sticks of dynamite.
An autopsy would later show that despite suffering ax injuries to their heads/necks, Charlie and Braden had actually died from inhaling carbon monoxide.
Joshua Powell died of smoke inhalation.
February 5, 2018 – Charlie and Braden Had Started Opening up to Their Grandparents
After the double murder-suicide, Steven Downing, the lawyer for Susan Powell’s parents, told reporters that Braden and Charlie had started talking to their grandparents about the things they remembered from the night their mother disappeared.
“They were beginning to verbalize more,” Downing said. “The oldest boy talked about that they went camping and that Mommy was in the truck. Mom and Dad got out of the car, and Mom disappeared.”
Chuck and Judy Cox were obviously left devastated by the tragedy of the young boys’ deaths.
Despite the social worker’s claim that the boys were excited to see their father that day, the Coxes said Charlie and Braden didn’t want to visit their father that Sunday. Judy Cox said she talked them into going, a decision she said she regretted. But as it was court-appointed, it’s debatable whether Judy could have prevented the visit.
2012 – Michael Tells Police He Abandoned Car in Junkyard Weeks after Susan Disappeared
Police questioned Josh’s brother Michael Powell several times in 2012. It was then that they learned he had abandoned his car at a junkyard just weeks after Susan mysteriously vanished.
Police said Michael provided evasive answers about why he got rid of the car and what he did with it in the weeks after Susan disappeared.
February 11, 2013 – Michael Powell Commits Suicide
On February 11, 2013, Michael Powell, 30, committed suicide by jumping from the multi-story Centre Village building in downtown Minneapolis. The complex consisted of a seven-story parking garage and additional floors dedicated to a hotel and condominiums.
Four people witnessed the fall.
Before moving to Minnesota, Michael Powell ran unsuccessfully for a state representative seat in Washington State’s District 2. In 2008, he served as a Democratic National Convention Delegate for Barack Obama.
At the time of his death, Michael was embroiled in a legal battle with Susan’s parents over $1.5 million in insurance policies issued to Josh and his two sons Charlie and Braden.
May 14-16, 2013 – Police Search for Susan in Oregon
In May 2013, West Valley City police searched for the body of Susan Powell on a property near Salem, Oregon, but found nothing.
May 20, 2013 – Police End Search for Susan Powell
On May 20, 2013, West Valley City police held a press conference and announced they were ending the search for Susan Powell.
May 6, 2014 – Explosive Tell-All Book Suggests Josh Sexually Abused Charlie and Braden
On May 6, 2014, Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris published an explosive tell-all book, If I Can’t Have You: Susan Powell, Her Mysterious Disappearance, and the Murder of Her Children. In it, they claimed they had proof that Josh Powell had molested his two sons.
Judy and Chuck Cox first noticed something was wrong when their grandsons moved into their Utah home in 2011, two years after Susan Powell had disappeared. One night the boys refused to put on their pajamas while getting ready for bed.
Chuck Cox asked, “Who told you it’s okay to be naked?”
“Our daddy!” they replied.
After talking to Charlie, Chuck learned that he and his brother slept naked in bed with their father Josh.
One of the brothers drew a picture for Chuck Cox showing a child next to an adult. Scrawled above it was “Don’t play with me!”
The book also suggests that Josh might have been sexually abused by his father Steven.
Judy Cox also began to notice that Braden and Charlie were behaving violently toward each other. One evening, while the two boys were taking a bath together, Chuck Cox walked in to find Charlie holding Braden’s head underwater.
Chuck said that after a few more seconds, Braden probably would have suffocated.
December 6, 2014 – Fifth Anniversary of Susan Powell’s Disappearance
December 6, 2014 was an ominous date. Not only was it the fifth anniversary of Susan Powell’s disappearance, but it was also a milestone of sorts. Utah law would now allow the missing Susan Powell to be declared dead.
Instead of providing the Cox family with a little closure, the anniversary was marked by more legal fighting between Susan’s parents and the family of Josh Powell.
The two families argued over whether a judge should find that Susan had died before May 10, 2013. It was a legally significant date that would mean millions of dollars for one side of the family or the other.
According to Utah law, someone “who is absent for a continuous period of five years” is presumed to be dead. The date of death is pegged at the end of the five-year time period, “unless there is sufficient evidence for determining that death occurred earlier.”
Chuck and Judy Cox had no intention of asking a judge to declare Susan dead. They were hoping she would still be found alive.
The proceeds from life insurance policies and assets belonging to Susan Powell largely benefited Susan’s parents, who were in control of her estate.
But when Susan died mattered to Terrica, Josh’s mother, and Alina, his sister. They asked the judge to declare that Susan had died prior to May 10, 2013. That was the date that Susan’s father, Charles, had made changes to the legal trust belonging to Susan and Josh. The changes eliminated Josh’s family as beneficiaries.
October 2017 – Family Close to Cracking Computer Encrypted by Josh Powell
Police long suspected that Josh Powell was responsible for his wife Susan’s death, and that his brother Michael and father Steven had helped him. But charges were never brought forward, apparently because police never had enough evidence. This assertion has been challenged by legal experts and investigators in Washington State.
While investigating the disappearance of Susan Powell, West Valley City police seized Josh Powell’s electronics, including 15 computers. They discovered that the Powell brothers communicated using sophisticated computer encryption software.
It was so sophisticated that investigators could not crack it. When police declared the case cold, the Cox family asked for a copy of the hard drive.
“No one, especially in 2009, would put that kind of encryption on their computer unless they were trying to hide something,” said Rose Winquist, an investigator helping Susan’s parents.
After several years of trying, the Cox family has made progress.
“We have broken through one level of the encryption. That’s hugely significant,” Winquist said.
There is still a heavier encryption level, meaning there is more work to do.
Even though Josh and Michael are dead, decrypting the computer could offer access to their Internet search history, e-mails, and other evidence that could possibly provide the Cox family with answers about what happened to Susan and where her body is.
July 23, 2018 – Steven Powell Dies of Natural Causes
Steven Powell was paroled from prison in July 2017 after serving more than two years for voyeurism and child pornography convictions. But his freedom was short-lived.
Steven Powell died of natural causes on Monday, July 23, 2018 in Tacoma, Washington.
Steven, who was believed to be 68, was the last living person who might have known what happened to Susan Cox Powell.
“I hope maybe he left some notes behind about where Susan might be,” Chuck Cox said. “And it’s a sad thing that his family’s destroyed, and now he’s gone, too.”
Steven’s estranged daughter, Jennifer Graves, said she didn’t think her father would have ever disclosed what he might have known about the disappearance of Susan Powell. She’s also skeptical that anything relating to her disappearance would be found in his personal effects.
“There’s a possibility, I guess,” she said. “But I don’t know if there will be anything there—if he’s learned his lesson and he’s gotten rid of anything that connects him with that.”