The Disappearance of Susan Powell
Murder Religion domestic violence money pornography. Depravity manipulation. The Susan Powell case is the worst of the worst. How? Did it all go so wrong. If you ask those close to Susan. All she ever really wanted was to be a wife. And a mother! And two thousand nine Susan worked fulltime job wasn't amazing. Mom to her two little boys, Charlie Brayden, and she was very active in her church. It was her refuge in a stormy marriage. On the outside, they appear to be happy family, but on the inside well. Nobody could imagine the kind of hell. Susan was going through being controlled and manipulated and degraded by an emotionally abusive husband Josh. Susan one out threaten divorce, but Josh made it crystal clear that if she tried to leave him, there would be consequences. So. Susan made a video documenting the family's possession. In case something happened to her. She hid that video and a secret will in a safe deposit box that she made sure Josh didn't know about. In the will. She expressed her fears the worry over the multi-million dollar life insurance policy in her name. Threatening arguments with Josh. Susan wrote in this last will and testament quote. If I die. It may not be an accident even if it looks like one. Take care of my boys. Just sixteen months later Susan disappeared. The only thing left were the breadcrumbs she left behind. Tragic that just three years later. Those breadcrumbs warrant enough to save her boys from their father. Be. android onto emergency life threatening situations earth. Velvety. Could be like that. Corn on Wang Dan he? Goes back. This is really. Curry powder live and now over ten years later. The Cox family is still hoping. For some kind of justice. Seven year old. And these fire. It's the worst. I'm Carolina Soriano with Kim Shepard and this is the scene of the crime. and. What A for Riddick? Crime! It is and not just one but a series of crimes. It started way back before Josh was even born. This case goes back. Generations and I'm sure as well here in your story, Carolyn. Josh Powell didn't come out of some immaculate home. There is a lot of family history there of criminal activity of depraved behavior, and it's really sad, because not that I feel sorry for Josh at all. Believe me, but it's almost like. Where did it start? You have to wonder. Did it start with Josh's father or Josh? His father's father or his father's? You know. How far back how many generations could this have gone? It just makes you wonder so okay. Sorry, I'm so glad that you want to start at the beginning because you know what I basically sunk my teeth into this story and I want to start at the beginning the whirlwind romance of Susan Cox. Cox and Josh Powell began at a dinner party. A Church of Jesus Christ of latter, Day Saints Mixer. If you well, and it was hosted by then twenty four year old Josh Powell at his apartment in Tacoma, Washington it was the year two thousand, a new millennium, and Love was in the air that night, nineteen year, old Susan Cox fell head over heels for Josh Ironic. That Josh was having an lds get together considering what would come later that he would like his father totally reject his faith, but Kim file that away it won't be the first irony, nor will it be the last in this tale of? It's pure evil basically. But back, then Susan was walking on air. I mean you know what that's like. When you're in a new relationship, you're so excited every moment that she didn't spend beauty school or at her part time retail jobs. She spent Joshua's place and in less than two months after Josh had that party, he and Susan were engaged. Susan's family wasn't too happy about the relationship. They encouraged her to wait, but Susan had made up her mind. She loved Josh and wanted to spend the rest of her life with him, and on the surface, the Cox and Powell families appeared to have a lot in common both were big families, lots of kids, and they were both Mormon families, but what Susan didn't know, was that Josh had a dark side, and so did his family Stephen Erica, those are Joshua's parents were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter, Day saints or lds when they got married. But during their marriage, Steve soured on the idea of religion, and he began to openly mock teric for her beliefs in front of the children. This caused not only friction in their growing family. It was just downright toxic as battles of a religion how to raise. The children were waged in the Powell home. Now the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints was something Sacred Erica, but it wasn't just the religion. Steve flat out, refused to have boundaries with their five kids, and he was emotionally abusive terracotta and there was the pornography. According to tariffs fight divorce filings in one, thousand, nine, hundred, ninety, two Steve, had an obsessive interest in pornography which she alleged he shared with their three sons, wasn't there some discussion that he had a belief that basically people are animals, and so we should be able to you know have relations at any time with any one in an animalistic way I mean. He really didn't see boundaries. When it comes to came to age. Let's say or species from what I understand. He kind of thought you could do whatever you wanted. And that like the conflict that happened with his wife. Erica, who wanted to just have this? Happy family and being their religion with their church, and he just didn't want any of that. and teaching your kids to openly mock their mother, I mean it's just like not only. Is it sad for Terek? But it's really it's really sad for the kids know. I'm absolutely it. It's it's just like a lot of domestic abuse, and this seems like what this case it's. It's not physical. In this case, it's mental. It's the mental the belittling and And so that's an important note to keep in mind as you talked about Kim with the history of this case in when did it begin so talking about Steve's actions in his court filings, he claimed that terrassa with into herbs and natural healing and mixed news mysticism with mormonism and practice quote, witchcraft and devil worship, so it's a real twisting of you I'm sure she was just into like herbs right and then he liked. Turns it into this whole like weird weird thing. Yeah, like she just takes Saint, John's wart or something. Her mood and all of a sudden. She's a witch. Yes, she's like this lady exactly so so basically in those same court documents, they also revealed that Josh was an extremely troubled teen. He allegedly killed his sister's gerbils threatened his mother with a butcher knife when she asked him to be more respectful and that Josh was following his father's footsteps when it came to contempt for women and authority. Now it is, we should note here that that that as a team, Josh also attempted to commit suicide well, I think clearly shows that he knew that there was something wrong with his home life and was trying to escape it. Yeah, exactly. But none of this was on display during Susan. Joshua's courtship and you didn't tell her before they got engaged. Guess what? I'm sure he I. Don't know all the research that I did. I don't know how much of his history that he shared with Susan. I believe that you know he would want to keep that under wraps. Shared a lot of with her at some point, because that he had written letters to his high school, girlfriend or college girlfriend before he met. Susan must've high school girlfriend. Where he did talk about his feelings and his home life and his family relationships, so he he did disclose some of this to other females, so one could assume that he would share it with his wife well, it wasn't enough to stop her from getting married to him and in two thousand, and maybe it was maybe it was later, too. Yeah, it wasn't a after they got married. Because I think at that time he was really trying to you know he was hosting these LDS parties he was. You know he hadn't rejected the church yet. He was very much like wanted to get on. The straight narrow wanted to to have a good relationship, and so Susan and Josh tied the Knot in an LDS church in two thousand and one. But from the beginning of their marriage John Shot issues holding down a job despite having a bachelor's degree in business from U. DUB and being a computer whiz, something always came up which put a strain on their finances and their relationship throughout their marriage, and here's another irony Josh was so controlling over Susan's money, nitpicking everything she spent money on while at the same time, he was a complete. Spend thrift, only he would. Buy Things for himself. In fact, it was the loss of a job that prompted Susan and Josh to temporarily move in with Josh's Dad Steve when they were newly married now most people like I lived with. My mother-in-law law and it was like okay. This is great, you know we get to live. Rent Free, and we can save money and get out of debt but young Susan. Had No idea what was in store for her? At the Powell residents in Puyallup under such close quarters, it didn't take long for Steve Again Josh's Dad to become infatuated with his new daughter in law, and that evacuation quickly morphed into something beyond obsession Steve Literally followed Susan around the House with a camcorder. was shameless, not being shy about recording every move and zooming in on her private parts. Years later I am looking at the look on your face and I know it just goes I. How does she? How do you stay there? I mean I know that you're married and I know that you want it to work out, but that would have been enough I would have been out and here's the thing. She's still so young I. mean you know you look at what you're like now as an adult woman and what you were like when you were nineteen or twenty years old? and. It's like I'm sure she was like what is happening here. This goes against. Everything that I know about right I mean it would go against. I would think but I. don't know I. Mean What especially with somebody who is so invalid in their church, and in those teachings I mean a high this obviously goes against all kinds of religious teachings to be lusting after someone else's wife to be lusting after your son's wife, and at this point I mean had stephen. Exited the church at this point, he already had oh. Yes, Stephen had like gone off the rails Liceu, that must have been really uncomfortable for Susan if she is a devout member of the church to be under someone's roof. WHO has so blatantly disregarded all of the teachings? Yeah, I think that years later we would find out just how twisted Steve's obsession with Susan would become. After police released a copy of his journal and Videos and photos of Susan, which included evidence that he uses small mirror to spy on her while she used the bathroom, he stole her underwear and pantyhose to masturbate with which he filmed himself and collected her use, feminine products, hair and Clippings what wait WHOA rewind. Feminine Products. That is disgusting I'm sorry. I! Don't care how you feel about somebody. Somebody old shirt that they wore because it smells like them is a whole other level than taken a dirty tampon. Adas Nasty. Thank goodness that she she didn't know this at the time I mean. She felt his lake. Spying is but I. think that had sh- and she could feel it, and she knew it, but I mean this takes it to such a level that is, you can't even wrap your your hands around that. You know you really can't. So he also read her adult journals and even posted these crazy love songs online about Susan under a different name, but the obsession came to a hat in two thousand and three, when Steve was so overwrought with his desire for Susan that. He actually told her his feelings. Hoping she would confirm what in his mind. He already believed that she was just as much in love with him as he is with her and this confession like crazily not so crazy because he always had this camcorder with him, was inadvertently captured the audio of it was captured on his recorder, and from that audio recording, two things come through crystal clear that Susan was obviously stunned and upset by his feelings for her. And firmly explained that she loved her husband, and he was her father-in-law nothing else. Now what's messed up completely? Is that Susan told the couple eventually move to West Valley City Utah which is a suburb of salt. Lake City in two thousand four. They said that the move was for job. Opportunities but Susan was just wanted to get away from Steve and this is a part that's just. I mean out of so many heartbreaking parts in the story, but you know, imagine you know your. Your father-in-law's a predator. You tell your husband. And she felt betrayed by Josh because only do not stick up for her to his father, but he wouldn't cut ties with his dad. In fact, he loud his dad to convince him that Susan had misrepresented his advances. Josh would have these long conversations over the phone with his dad. Even though it upset, Susan and Susan believed that Steve was doing it on purpose to break them up, so he could have her for himself now, but Josh was okay with them. Moving to Salt Lake City area to get away from his dad. At least there was maybe like a little bit of give on his side of things like I could see where Susan might think. There was a flicker of hope that their marriage could be saved. Their relationship could be saved if they got away from the Dad, which they did so even though she was still frustrated that they had a relationship I could see where she wouldn't necessarily say that's an I'm leaving because at least Josh took that step of moving away from the area. Yeah, that is true. The sad part is is that I think that you when something like this happens I, mean she is. It's almost like being victimized twice right like I I. I the father in law does this and then the husband. Basically, yes, he takes action, but at the end of the day he's he. He goes back on it, and he like allows his dad to manipulate him into acting like, oh. This was just all in her head. You know she. She deserved it. She wanted I. Don't know what those conversations were, but but it's the same kind of story that we hear when it comes to a woman being or girl being ogled by somebody, and it's quote. Unquote her fault, right? It's just a dysfunctional triangle and Susan documented in her journals. There was also another dysfunction that was being realize that Josh began repeating. A pattern from his own parents marriage when he first met Susan, remember he was hosting those LDS parties, and he was really active in the church, and now like his father, and his marriage, before he was becoming disillusioned with his faith, and began rejecting L. D. S. now on the bright side. Susan got her wish to be a wife and mother Charlie was born in two thousand, five and Brandon in two thousand seven, and even though Susan Urine to have more children to be a stay at home, mom, she continued to work and do really well at her job at Wells Fargo. And she was actually the main breadwinner and I say that actually because Josh. Even still control their every move. How much she spent and belittle her when he felt that she spent too much money on food and essentials. Josh even got rid of their second car because he said it costs too much, and she had to ride her bike back and forth. I mean it's one thing to want to ride your bike on your own, because you want to be healthy, but it's another thing to have your husband. Just sell your car from right underneath you and you have no choice in the matter again. This case is about the emotional abuse I mean to my knowledge I. Don't think he was physically abusive. I find it hard to believe well. Not Hard to believe, but difficult to understand women who would allow her husband to sell her car out from under her. I I couldn't imagine that happening in my household if it even got discussed. I just I can't even imagine that it just sounds. So. Nineteen fifties. I think that their relationship was a real slow roll. You know how sometimes like stuff happens in your life, and like one thing happens, and then another thing, and then you're your tolerance to be able to. Super, manipulative. I don't know I mean I. Find It. I just find it sad because I, think he wore her down, you know. Yeah. Have you ever been worn down? If will yeah, I mean. There are definitely times where it's like. Pick my battles. The the car is like a huge thing and I totally get you saying that, but I mean it's just. It feels like as I've been following the story, it's like. She was worn down and her idea of what she wanted. You know the family the children the church I mean they're so. He just wore her down and and it's sad, because for whatever reason there was always enough meat on the bone for Josh to buy the things that he wanted like computers and expensive tools for himself documents later released by UTAH. Police show that Susan was so unhappy in their marriage that Josh was very controlling as I said emotionally abusive, accusing her of being a religious fanatic, which is sounding exactly like his dad would. She asked for control of our own money, so she could just give tithing to the church. He wouldn't even let her give tithing to the church with her own money. And things have gotten so bad in two thousand eight that Susan went and spoke to a divorce attorney. The attorney advised Susan to take a video documenting the couple's belongings. ME. July twenty, ninth, two, thousand eight. Basis making sure that if something happens to me or my family are all list. Our assets are documented. Hope everything works out moral happy. Live happily ever after such as possible so a month before Susan made that Video July two thousand eight sheet also Kim, she wrote a secret will that she kept in a safe deposit box with directions that Josh not be allowed to see it. In. This letter Susan says quote I wanted documented that there is extreme turmoil in our marriage. She added if I die. It may not be an accident even if it looks like one. Susan's letter documented that she had given Josh an ultimatum to start treating her better, or she would file for divorce, and according to Susan he responded with threats. Quote this is this is Josh there will be no lawyers, only a mediator and I will ruin you. He added quote US Susan would be destroyed, and your life would be over, and the boys will not grow up with a mom and dad and quote. She says in her letter if anything happened to her, she wanted her Dad Chuck Cox to have control over her children. So back to your car. You know how you can't even imagine that I mean I. Think most of can't, but it's like it shows that it's like. She knew that this was not right and she was scared. You know she cared, but it's interesting. Though in that video that in a way she still sounded hopeful that there was somehow going to be a way to save the marriage well, according to the research that I did she kept trying like friends would say get you know. Get away from him. You know and she I think she just couldn't let go of that idea of this family marriage. You know her kids not. Being. You know she didn't want to get a divorce I. think that it just was that traditional life was so important to her that she kept wanting to give him more chances, but Susan's fear for herself and her children. that she documented, but ultimately did little to ensure either her safety or her children's safety, and just over fifteen months later on December six, two, thousand nine. Susan's worst fear would come to pass now. That was a Sunday and Susan and Charlie and Braden went to Church Services Josh stayed at home, and later that day one of Susan's friends and neighbor came over to help her untangle some snarled yarn. And, the neighbor observed John Mickey pancakes for the family which was strange, because you know generally known that Josh refused to cook and according to interviews with Chuck, Cox at Susan's Dad after the disappearance. He believes that Josh put muscle relaxants in the pancakes that he fed to Susan. There's no. Evidence to support that, but that's what he believes. The neighbor said that she left the Powell house at around five o'clock that evening after Susan's suddenly got up and went to lay down because she didn't feel well. And this neighbor would be the last person to see Susan alive the next morning when Susan didn't drop the boys off at daycare. The teacher was immediately worried, so she called Josh's family. Josh's mom and sister went to Susan Josh's home. They noticed there weren't any tire tracks in the snow, and the House looked dessert. Because remember this is Utah. And they couldn't reach Susan Josh on their cell phones, and they had sean about work, either so it didn't take long for them to call nine one one that morning. Because it was just Susan was like. She was always on time. She was very organized. She was very diligent and the daycare lady just knew right away that something just wasn't right, and so police arrived at the Powell home. And the family there the remember the Joshes mom and his sister were worried that the family were were victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, so they got permission from Joshua Stern mom to smash a window and enter the house. The family wasn't there, but police noticed something strange. There was a wet spot on the couch with two box fans blowing at that spot. Susan's purse, her wallet and I D at The house, and it was radio silence from Josh and Susan for the rest of that day, Fam- family was frantic, but around five o'clock. That evening the family was relieved when Josh finally answered his phone and said he was on his way back from a camping trip with the boys where Susan. They asked. Josh claims she should be at work and he didn't know where she was, but she wasn't at work. So Josh was asked to go to the police station. He brought his kids Charlie brain with him during this interview. I mean Q. Imagine that like you get home. It's like getting to be dinnertime and you bring your kids. These little tiny kids like two and four to the police station. You know their MOM's not there. So then Josh unpack this Bizarre Story to detectives that he left his sweep, his sleeping wife at home in the dead of night to take his little boys, four year, old Charlie and two year old Brayden camping in the Utah Desert during snowstorm in sub freezing temperatures, and he had no idea where his wife was. One Detectives Press John About why he didn't tell employer or the daycare provider that he wouldn't be at work and they wouldn't be at school Josh, said that he thought it was Sunday, and not Monday, so he oh, by early. Days messed up. I'm sorry when you have a wife. Who is that into the church? You know when Sunday is. He told me he didn't know. Win Sunday exactly on top of that. Did he have camping gear in his car? Like? was there evidence to support his story at all I think he a definitely think. He had camping gear and his car I think he also had like this huge blow torch. Thing in there, too. Because you know they were making s'mores. Police became even more suspicious as the following days unfolded Josh Josh came home from that camping trip. Police say. That he had Susan Cell. In the minivan with him, the SIM card had been removed, and Josh couldn't explain why he had her phone or why. He had left messages on her voicemail when he had the phone with him right? Detectives also tried to retrace his to retraced Josh's story of camping, but from the beginning, they couldn't find any evidence to support this campsite that Josh had described. And then during search warrants the house, they found a small amount of blood on the floor by the recently claimed Sofa and carpet in their house. And Josh definitely had a motive. A Life Insurance policy worth over a million dollars. Remember in her note. She was scared I. Mean. How scary is that? You had this huge life insurance policy and you're scared that your husband is GonNa, do something to you, so you write, the secret will is just. Unbelievable, and then there was the strange way Josh was acting during his conversations with police, he was more concerned about photographs. They had taken of his hands. You know after when he came into the police department as opposed to concern about his wife's disappearance. Okay. If you're under US On so understood that you're not under arrest passing. On the, Problem, we have estimating as what. Missing Person. By being your wife. And initially this all turned out to be basically missing people entire family. On. That's why we were notified. In home. unsure. Make sure that if there was anybody in there that they were okay. Okay. report. which was obviously concern? Started cutaway house. Keys. To why they? Got, break the window when he started, she had a key. On. Mount Rushmore attention obviously. Okay So. The concern here is obviously you. You mentioned that we talked and by the way is. We spoke yesterday. General stuff from you. All Right! What do what you want us to do? You want us to talk to you. Do not want us to talk to anybody. Just Leo bone overseas shows up. Is what you wants to know. I mean just trying to much. You know what I'm sayin'. Person Tour. Colson Messenger who. Exactly! So. You're telling me that you do not want to commit your talk to meet. Answer my questions. We can try to figure out where potentially she could be. told me that I should have an attorney because you don't know what. was going on. You. said that I'm you know? Pretty much over my head. Is Your. Wife is missing. Basically the detective is like. Why are you not being helpful you as called us because of a missing persons? Called US word is trying to get to the bottom of this. Why why are you not helping us? Don't we want us to find your wife and he was like? Will just as being a total Weirdo and there was something else that raised eyebrows. The day after Susan went missing. Josh went in for another interview. He was like late going in, so josh walked out of the police station after that interview, he didn't wait for the mini van that they were still processing the evidence. They were collecting evidence from it. Instead he called the taxi that picked him up at the police station and drove him to the Salt Lake City Airport Josh rented a car for two days during that time, he racked up over eight hundred miles on the car. Now had no idea where he went or what he was doing, and there were other red flags. Josh withdrew Charlie and Brayden from daycare cash in Susan's. Susan's retirement accounts and canceled her regularly scheduled chiropractic sessions, and then also during interviews of close friends and workers police say that one person that they interviewed alleged that Josh had told them if he wanted to get rid of a body, he would hide it in an abandoned mine shaft that the UTAH. Desert was full of them and they are. The Utah Desert is full of them. Yeah also when they interviewed four year old Charlotte about who went camping. Charlie said his mom went with them, but added that his mom didn't come back with them. It's heartbreaking. I know. Next week and part two of the disappearance of Susan Powell will continue to peel back the layers of Susan's disappearance. How Josh packed up? Charlie and Brayden go live with his dad. A home investigators would refer to later as a house of horrors. So, many warning signs went unheeded. Only the devil himself could have foreseen how Susan's precious little angels would suffer. At the hands of their own father. I'm Carolina Soriano with Kim Shepard and this is the scene of the crime.