5 Things You Need To Know About Susan Powell

In 2009, mother of two Susan Powell disappeared without a trace in West Valley City, Utah. Then in 2012, husband Josh killed himself and their two sons after custody of the children was granted to Susan's parents.

December 07, 2018

Josh and Susan Powell with their two sons

©©Amber Hardman/Polaris

©Amber Hardman/Polaris

Josh and Susan Powell with their two sons

By: Catherine Townsend

Nine years ago, 28-year-old Susan Powell disappeared without a trace in West Valley City, Utah. The mother of two was last seen at her home on December 6, 2009. Her husband, Josh Powell, said he decided to take their sons, then four-year-old Charlie and two-year-old Braden, on a camping trip in the desert — even though there was a snowstorm that night.

After Susan mysteriously vanished, Josh Powell was investigated as the sole person of interest, but he was never charged.

The case came to a tragic conclusion in 2012, when Josh killed himself and his two sons after custody of the boys was awarded to Susan’s parents, Charles and Judy Cox.

Here are 5 shocking details about this infamous case.

1. The Links To Her "Obsessive" Father-In-Law, And Another Missing Man

Susan wrote in emails and journals she felt uncomfortable around her father-in-law, Steven Powell, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. An amateur musician, Steven wrote a song about Susan at one point. During the investigation, police found indecent photos of several women and young girls, including Susan, in Steven’s Powell’s house.

After Susan disappeared, 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, in 2014, the lead investigator on the case stated that Steve Koecher was in Puyallup when Susan disappeared – and police “found nothing proving he helped plan her murder or conceal it,” according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Steven Powell was convicted of other crimes related to photographing girls in the neighborhood — some as young as eight — through their bathroom windows. Though he was never charged in connection with Susan’s disappearance, many people in Susan’s family believed that he may have had answers. After serving his sentence he was paroled in 2017. Steven died earlier this year of a heart attack at a hospital in Tacoma, Washington.

2. The Life Insurance Policies And The Secret Will

At the time of her death police found evidence that Susan had several life insurance policies taken out on her that were eventually found to total a reported $2.3 million. The family reportedly had money problems. According to police, Josh had a serious gambling problem. He filed for bankruptcy in 2007, declaring over $200,000 in debts. Susan created a secret video in 2008, before her disappearance, in which she reportedly surveyed property and made a secret will. According to Seattles KOMO News, she said, "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.” A long court battle between Josh and Susan’s family was settled in 2015. A Washington federal judge awarded the $2.3 million in life insurance to Josh and Susan Powell’s trust, and a related conservatorship under the control of Susan’s father, Charles Cox.

3. The Camping Trip

Josh claimed his wife didn’t go camping with the rest of the family on the day she disappeared. But Charlie told officers that his mom did go with them on the night she went missing – but did not come home. According to Seattle's KIRO-FM radio, Susan's parents claimed Braden drew a picture of a van with three people in it, and several months laters said, "Mommy was in the trunk.” Josh denied his sons’ claims.

4. Susan’s Blood Was Found In The House

Before Josh Powell and his sons returned home from their camping trip on the evening of December 7, 2009, police entered their home around 10 A.M. to check on the family's welfare. Once inside the house, investigators noticed that a section of the carpet was wet, and that two fans had been set up in an effort to dry the damp area. Officials also found blood on the tile floor. Forensic testing later identified one of the blood samples as Susan’s blood.

5. Josh Powell Had Allegedly Talked About How To Get Rid Of A Body

In August 2012, the West Valley City Police department reportedly released documents showing Josh took actions that were regarded as highly suspicious following her disappearance. They indicated that Josh liquidated Susan’s retirement accounts, withdrew his children from daycare and spoke to coworkers about how to hide a body. Allegedly, he said police would never find a body in a vertical mine shaft because it would be too dangerous to investigate.

Watch the premiere of the all-new special Susan Powell: An ID Murder Mystery Wednesday, December 12 at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery!

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