UT SUSAN COX POWELL: Missing from West Valley City, UT - 7 Dec 2009 - Age 28


(Much longer write-up on the Charley Project link above. Snipped here for brevity.)

The next day [Monday, December 7, 2009], both Susan and Josh didn't show up for work or call their employers to say they would be absent, and they also failed to drop their children off at day care. Authorities issued a missing persons bulletin for Susan, Josh and their two sons, two-year-old Charlie and four-year-old Braden.

Josh and the children returned home at 5:00 p.m., but Susan has never been heard from again. Josh said he had taken his sons camping in the desert at Simpson Springs, along the Pony Express Trail, late on Sunday night. He returned home to find Susan missing.

He said he last saw Susan at their home at 12:30 a.m. on December 7, as he was setting out on the camping trip. Susan didn't go with them because she felt sick. Josh said he didn't go to work on Monday because he got confused about what day of the week it was.

Authorities quickly classified Susan's disappearance as suspicious and executed a search warrant on her home. Her family described her as a devoted mother who would not have abandoned her children, and she left her purse, keys and cellular phone behind at home.

Investigators stated on the day Susan was reported missing, they noticed a large wet spot in her home and fans blowing on it to dry it. They questioned Josh's story, stating they didn't know why he would have taken two toddlers camping in the cold weather. The temperatures during the time of the purported camping trip were well below freezing, with mixed rain and snow.

Police searched the site where Josh said he had set up camp, but they were unable to determine whether anyone had camped there recently. Braden did confirm that the trip had taken place, however.

A week after Susan's disappearance, Josh hired an attorney. Authorities named him as a person of interest in her case, and stated he hadn't cooperated with the investigation. The police briefly impounded the family's minivan and searched it. During the day that the van was in police custody, Josh rented a car to drive. Investigators later determined he'd driven it hundreds of miles before he returned it, but the car didn't have any stored GPS data to indicate where it had been driven.

A neighbor said Josh appeared at his home when it was time to return the rented car and get his van back from the police. The neighbor stated he was acting oddly, his hands were badly windburned and he kept putting lotion on them.

In January 2010, a month after Susan's disappearance, Josh packed his family's belongings, put their house up for rent and moved Puyallup, Washington with the children. Both he and Susan are originally from Washington and have relatives there.

For about two months after her disappearance, Susan's family stood by Josh and said they didn't believe he would have harmed her. In February 2010, however, a family friend appointed as spokesperson for Susan's family told the media they'd learned that Josh had been emotionally abusing Susan for years and there was at least one episode of physical abuse as well.

Susan had reportedly said she planned to leave Josh on April 6, 2010, the couple's wedding anniversary, if their marriage didn't improve before then. In the aftermath of her disappearance, relations between Josh and her parents became so heated that a judge ordered him and Chuck Cox to keep at least 500 feet apart.

In late March 2012, newly unsealed documents revealed additional evidence police had that tied Josh to Susan's disappearance. Her blood had been found on the tile floor next to the couch in the family home and her cellular phone was in Josh's car, something he couldn't explain.

When Josh turned Susan's phone over to the police, it was turned off and missing its SIM card, the portable memory chip that stores information about the device. He later gave his own phone over to authorities and it too was missing the SIM card.

Susan had $1.5 million in insurance on her life. A short time after her disappearance, Josh began drawing on her retirement account, and he canceled all her upcoming chiropractic appointments.

Susan left a will in a safe deposit box registered in her name only, along with a handwritten letter addressed to her family and friends, saying Josh had threatened to "destroy" her and told her the children "will not have a mother and father" if she divorced him. The letter stated if she died, it "may not be an accident, even if it looks like one."

Charlie told the police that Susan accompanied them on the camping trip the night of her disappearance, but she didn't come back with them and he didn't know why. Weeks after his mother's disappearance, after he had moved to Washington, Charlie told a teacher that his mother was dead.

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MEDIA - SUSAN COX POWELL: Missing from West Valley City, UT since 7 Dec 2009 - Age 28
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1. Susan Powell Disappeared While Her Husband Claims He Was Camping With Their Children

Court records in a wrongful death lawsuit Susan’s parents filed against the state in the death of her children say that, in December 2009, “Susan Powell disappeared from the Utah home she shared with her husband, Joshua Powell and their two boys. Joshua, the lead suspect in Susan’s disappearance, subsequently moved with the two boys to his father Stephen Powell’s home in Washington.”

According to the Charley Project, which is a missing persons’ website, Susan Powell’s friend had lunch with Susan and her husband Josh Powell at the Powell home on December 6, 2009. At the time, Susan and Josh had been married for eight years. The friend didn’t notice anything amiss.

However, the next day, neither Susan nor Josh showed up for work. They also didn’t let their employers know what was going on or drop their two children – Charlie, 2, and Braden, 4 – off at daycare, according to Charley Project. At first, authorities put out a missing person’s bulletin for Susan, Josh and both children.

That evening, though, Josh returned home with the children. He claimed that he had taken the children camping and didn’t know where his wife was. No one has ever seen Susan Powell again.

2. Susan Powell Wrote Emails & Recorded a Video About Her Husband’s Disturbing Behavior

In emails, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, Susan told friends that Josh “had changed into a surly, moody, controlling person she feared could harm her.”

“I want him in counseling, on meds, I want my husband, friend, lover BACK no more crazy, outrageous, outlandish beliefs/opinions,” she wrote. Adding to this concern, Susan even recorded a video and secret will the year before she died. “I want it documented that there is extreme turmoil in our marriage” and “If I die, it may not be an accident, even if it looks like one,” she said, according to Investigation Discovery Channel.

Court records from Washington State say that Susan Powell “disappeared from her home in Utah in December 2009 under suspicious circumstances. Joshua was a person of interest in Susan’s disappearance.” The family’s minivan was searched, the camping site investigated, and Josh soon hired an attorney and then moved from Utah to Washington State, according to Charley Project.

3. Susan’s Father-in-Law Steve Powell Was Sent to Prison on Child Pornography Charges

According to a State of Washington court decision, Susan Powell’s father-in-law Steve Powell was convicted of “second degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The conviction was based on the seizure during the execution of a search warrant of images of children who were his former neighbors.”

In 2018, Steve Powell died of a heart attack at a hospital, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. He was only 68 years old. Powell went to prison but not for Susan Powell’s disappearance, and he was already behind bars when his son, Josh, killed himself and Josh’s two sons.

4. Josh Powell Tried to Murder His Sons With a Hatchet Before Blowing Them Up

The grisly deaths of Josh Powell and his two sons were horrific. It was 2012, three years since his wife’s disappearance, and Josh Powell was 36 years old. Charles was now 7 and Braden was 6 when the boys died.

According to ABC News, Josh Powell took a hatchet to the boys, wounding them but not killing them initially. Then, he set off a “gas-fueled explosion” that killed Powell and the children.

It was supposed to be a supervised visit, ABC reported, and Josh had recently given away the children’s toys. According to ABC News, a social worker was at the scene but Josh “shut and locked the door before the social worker could enter. Moments later, the house smelled of gas and erupted in a ball of flames.” He had lost custody of the boys after his father’s arrest. Images of concern were also found on Josh’s computer, ABC reported.

The oldest boy had started verbalizing details of the camping trip, claiming he saw Susan in the trunk of the car, according to ABC. Court records say that on September 28, 2011, the Superior Court of Washington, County of Pierce, Juvenile Court “issued orders placing the two boys in the custody of DSHS; authorizing placement with the Coxes (Susan’s parents); allowing Joshua weekly visits with the two boys under supervision by a DSHS-approved provider; and prohibiting Joshua from either discussing pending litigation with the boys or making disparaging remarks about the Coxes.”

5. Blood & Life Insurance Policies Add to the Evidence Against Josh Powell

Is Susan Powell dead? Who killed her? Was it Josh Powell? There’s evidence pointing at him as a key suspect. According to KUTV, “authorities found Susan Powell’s blood on a floor next to a sofa that appeared to have been recently cleaned, with two fans set up to blow on it.”

In addition, the television station reported, there were life insurance policies taken out on Susan Powell and Josh Powell “had filed paperwork to withdraw her retirement account money about 10 days after her disappearance.”

According to Investigation Discovery Channel, “Steven and Josh allegedly made a website outlining a theory that Susan ran away to Brazil with a missing Utah journalist named Steven Koecher.” However, that theory was discounted. Josh had a gambling problem and had filed for bankruptcy but Susan’s life insurance totaled more than $2 million, Investigation Discovery Channel reported.


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Jury finds state DSHS negligent in violent deaths of Susan Powell's sons

A Pierce County jury on Friday ruled that the state Department of Social and Health Services was negligent in the deaths of two young boys who were attacked and killed in 2012 by their father who was under suspicion at the time for the disappearance of the boys' mother.

As part of the verdict, the jurors awarded $98 million to the estates of the two boys, Charlie and Braden.

A spokesperson for the Department of Children, Youth and Families, which broke off from DSHS about two years ago, said the agency's next moves are still up in the air.

"Following the tragic 2012 murder-suicide of Josh Powell and his two sons, Charlie and Braden, DCYF plans to review the jury’s decision and determine next steps," the agent said in a written statement.

Police say when the two boys were brought to Powell's Pierce County home by a DSHS caseworker for a supervised visit, he locked out the caseworker, killed the boys with a hatchet and then killed himself in an explosive fire that destroyed the home.

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Judge reduces damages over murder of missing woman Susan Powell's sons

A judge in Washington state has reduced the damages in a wrongful death case brought by Susan Cox Powell’s parents on behalf of her sons.

Jurors found the state Department of Social and Health Services negligent in July and awarded $98.5 million to the Cox family for the pain and suffering of Charlie and Braden Powell.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stanley Rumbaugh on Tuesday reduced that by two-thirds Tuesday, to about $32.8 million


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‘Cold’: Newly released wiretap conversations depict Powell family on the brink

Josh Powell loaded up his sons, Charlie and Braden, into his minivan late at night and headed off for a campout.

This was not, however, the night of Powell’s infamous December 2009 trip on Utah’s Pony Express Trail, on the same night his wife, Susan Powell, disappeared. Instead it occurred on Aug. 26, 2011, the night after West Valley police and Pierce County, Washington, sheriff’s deputies raided the home of Josh Powell’s father, Steve Powell, with a search warrant.

Josh Powell did not inform his family that he was leaving with the boys, headed south toward Mount St. Helens. When Steve Powell learned of it the following day, he phoned Josh’s younger brother, Michael Powell, and informed him of his brother’s impromptu outing.

“You’re kidding me,” Michael Powell said.

In another phone call as Josh Powell was returning home with his boys on Aug. 28, 2011, Steve Powell told his eldest son he had something to confess: personal journals police had seized belonging to Steve Powell during the raid included potentially incriminating information about his sexual obsession with his son’s missing wife.

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing,” Josh Powell said.

These and hundreds of other conversations between members of the Powell family were captured on a wiretap in August and September of 2011, part of a sprawling law enforcement effort to crack the case of the Susan Powell disappearance.

KSL Newsradio’s “Cold” podcast has gained access to thousands of pages of notes and transcripts made by police who monitored those phone calls. The records, which have never been disclosed by police or released to the public, reveal a family on the brink. They paint the Powells as being in the grips of extreme paranoia and in a state of constant bickering as they attempted to steer media coverage and deflect public criticism.



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Where is Susan Powell? Her disappearance, young sons' horrific death haunts family​

Chuck and Judy Cox have spent the past eight years in agony while trying to find some semblance of justice after their son-in-law, Josh Powell, murdered their two young grandsons.

When it finally seemed like they were on the verge of finding some closure earlier this year, the coronavirus pandemic brought everything to a halt.

Chuck Cox said he is going to use the reward money to honor his late grandchildren.

“I intend to ... use the award to try and help other people, [so] that we can save more children,” said Chuck Cox.

The judge presiding over the case has since reduced the reward to $32 million -- $16 million for Charlie and $16 million for their other grandson Braden. The Cox family will appeal the court’s decision to reduce the jury’s verdict, their attorney said.

Graves said Susan Powell's story "will continue to live on and inspire others to move in the right direction. To move towards good relationships and get out of bad situations -- abusive situations."

Watch the full story on "20/20" FRIDAY at 9 p.m. ET on ABC

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