Ep. 17 Cold Case
This podcast discusses domestic violence criminal behavior. Murder and adult themes while not explicit. Listener discretion is advised. Journey is Steve Powell twelve thirty five AM, December eight two thousand nine fourteen hours following the first report of Susan Powell's disappearance in feeling sick. Because it is possible that Susan is dead Monday morning, Jenny Kulthum Josh's and Susan's house to tell us that the daycare lady had called her when they did not show up with the kids the police came to their house, and this information made us extremely fearful that they might be inside this fixated from carbon monoxide or dead from some other cause it was a relief. When the police reported that they were not in the house and their van was not in the garage. However, the day war on slowly with no word and with all of us wondering if they were abducted or if they went on an outing and were killed or trapped in a car accident in the evening, I went to the gym. And while they are received. A call that Josh had shown up with the boys. But not with Susan when I was finally able to speak to him at about eight thirty. He said he saw her early Monday morning at just after midnight. He was leading late for an outing with the boys in the various conversations I had with him Monday evening between that time and nearly midnight. He said that he had bought a generator heater of some kind. So he could go on winter outings when he told Susan who he said was in bed asleep that they were leaving. He says she said whatever he says he thought yesterday was Sunday, hence, he did not call work, and when he realized his error he was out of cell phone range that does not make sense to me since when I spoke to him Sunday at midday. He said Susan and the boys had gone to a state conference that morning. He also mentioned that she was tired and took a nap that eating maybe she was already gone, and he. He told the boys. She was just napping. None of us were able to reach him on his cell phone all day, and he attributes that to being in the back country. Susan cell phone was with him. He says he was using it to look up a number and forgetful, put it in his pocket and forgot to take it out. So it was with him all day until he showed up at around six pm. The story was so implausible and our conversation with Josh so unconvincing that I fear the worst. I think Susan is dead. Josh spent the twenty hour look Hunan disposing of her body far away. In the last two weeks. Josh bought an oxyacetylene welder and a rug doctor carpet cleaner. I had no clue why he might wanna welder. But now, I wonder that was required. The process of mutilating were disintegrating her body. Maybe he really did not do anything to her and she will show up alive. Maybe that is why he's not concerned. This is cold episodes seventeen cold case, I'm Dave collie right back after this. Two days after Josh Powell murdered his sons, Charlie and Brayden his aunt and uncle MAURICE and Patty Leach issued a written statement it said Josh represented himself with great restraint during the child custody proceedings. It said the murder suicide was a result of questionable practices from government agencies religious bias internet. Kangaroo courts and the news media. It said all the above had circumvented the Powell families due process rights, and that was a national tragedy. Patty, Leach was Steve Powell sister. If there's anybody alive that has knowledge of what happened is Susan Powell her family believes, it's Stephen pal and he made perhaps the best remaining lead in the investigation. Despite the fact, he's not talking not with police anyway while in prison Steve exchanged letters with his niece. Nikki Cardenas at the end of July two thousand twelve NICKY sent him a copy of a CNN article about James Holmes, the Aurora Colorado movie theater mass shooter, I mentioned a couple episodes back that west valley police detective Darrel Dane had adopted the phony persona of shameless from the department of defense during a meeting with Steve around that same time. It turns out shameless planted a seed after Michael committed suicide in February of two thousand thirteen Steve became convinced. This shadowy figure shameless was responsible for both the Aurora shooting. And Michael suicide he supposed the army using shameless had delivered psychotropic drugs to both homes, and Michael or maybe it was a chemical weapon. Procured from the army's desert. Chemical depot in of course, Utah. Steve also wondered if shameless hit engineered the December two thousand twelve mass shooting at sandy hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, they were all connected in Steve's mind part of a single sprawling conspiracy. Just days before Michael Powell suicide Washington state, Senator Pam Roach introduced Senate Bill fifty one sixty two way do have judge that did have material from west valley police and chose to ignore it. We have a judge who did order a cycle sexual valuation chose to make decisions without the results of that. Order SP fifty one sixty two was not a very catchy name supporters called it, Charlie. And Britain's law Steve Powell called it. The Cox Roach Bill we had a fast track for reunification DS HSS, though, they recommend to the judge that Josh Powell not have the kids were nonetheless on a fast-track reunification. That's what two days a week for two hours. A visit is Chuck and Judy Cox travelled to Olympia to speak in support of the Bill this law. A surviving spouse is essentially able to achieve custody by murder. Or as in this case, causing the disappearance of charleen? Brayton's mother, then refusing to cooperate with police put simply the Bill was meant to prohibit parents suspected of murder from having access to their kids until the murder case was resolved. It would have cemented in lawn. Many of the suggestions made by the DS HFS review board after Josh killed Charlie and Brayden DS HS and others like west valley. Police Pierce county. Police did not take seriously and sell because of that we felt this was a big problem. And why it was in our opinion treated lightly that the boys would be okay, Rick Bartholomew from the Washington state bar association said the Bill was problematic, for example, some investigations will take years, and ultimately a person can be exonerated, or at least the investigation doesn't doesn't prove anything the Bill underwent some changes. To address those concerns and on March twelfth two thousand thirteen the Washington state Senate voted forty eight to one in favor sending the Bill to the house where it stalled indefinitely. Charlie and Brandon's law never actually became law. That is at least not in Washington. I substitute Senate Bill one seventy Seventy-three having received seventy two. Yes. Votes zero no votes fest. The house will be signed by the speaker and return to the Senate for the signature of the president the following year in two thousand fourteen the Utah legislature passed a similar Bill. The Bill has been changed dramatically in order to thread the needle between protecting parental rights. And also protecting the rights of children in these very unusual and unique situations and infrequent situations. S one Seventy-three changed Utah law empowering the courts and child welfare workers to keep minor children away from a parent suspected of murder. Journal of Steve Powell five thirty five AM, December eight t thousand nine. Nineteen hours following the first report of Susan Powell's disappearance Sunday night at snowed all night. So Josh headed out after midnight to camp with the boys. It was snowing like gangbusters by the time. He got out of ways. So according to his story, he decided it was too late to return. And so he kept going. Why the whole thing sounds so wrong? Even if it had nothing to do with disposing of Susan's body. Why would anybody do that? And Furthermore, why would anybody believed that someone would go out in that weather just for an out? Michael Andolina are very supportive of Josh and advised him to tighten up his story as it sounds weak and unconvincing Josh responded that the police may already tapped his phone, which was the same as saying be careful what you say Michael commented that he blamed his mother for this. He said, she is the reason I will probably never get married. So I guess Michael like me has learned to distrust, the marriage principle, John seems to be a misogynist and Josh has suffered through a mutually hateful marriage relationship since April two thousand and one Josh's and Susan's mutual disdain was evident from nearly the beginning of their relationship. I am so tired, but can't seem to sleep. I e mailed in my request for sick leave a few minutes ago. West valley city police were fast approaching the end of the road in early two thousand thirteen leads in the search for Susan were dwindling yet public focus on the case remained high. Yes, there's a lot of people in the country in the world at wanted answers from the media all the way down to the Cox family because you know, believe it or not they didn't know a whole lot more than anybody else as lead detective else Maxwell served as keeper of the case files. He'd organized reports warrant affidavits interview transcripts and everything else for more than three years over the course investigation, I had managed the digital case files. So you know, I kind of prepared it as as we were moving through. So that when we went into a trial all done in. I could just handed over to the attorneys with no chance of a criminal prosecution. West valley faced a question what to do with? All those documents. I don't think the department could just stand back and go, no. They're going to have to release smooth formation. And there's a lot of formation the city had received a large number of requests for copies of case files under grandma Utah's open records law decided to sit down and go through that entire file and redacted. And and then came down to okay, do we just release it all or lead to grammar requests come in? And the decision was made to just make a public release of it with the job of redacting all those documents blacking out sensitive information, like medical or financial data names of potential witnesses police operational plans took a lot of time we spent days in a big conference room. And there was gosh. Eight or ten of us, and they weren't just -tective. There's a lot of attorneys in there and. It was basically myself maybe a couple of detectives arrest was legal going through redacting all of that information. Daunting task to say as least I mean, there's thousands and thousands of documents and reports and. Yeah. Before they could give any of those documents out. Police also had to ask a judge to rescind the secrecy order that had surrounded the case since its inception deliveries happened is because the case essentially came to an end like there's there's nobody that can be held accountable. This case is never going to go into the Justice system. So now, we've reached a point that we can't there's no reason to retain that information and keep it close. Before taking that step west valley. Police wanted to finish one more search this time in Scotts mills Oregon police say they remained committed to the case and finding closure for Susan's family. We can't forget the Cox shown the effect this had on them. Detectives had come across information about a piece of property in Scotts, mills were Josh's aunt, and uncle Patty and MAURICE Leach had previously lived they'd rented a house on one hundred seventy six heavily wooded acres in the rural area. Northeast of Salem information that we'd received as that. It was possible that. Because Josh traveled several hundred miles, and if you was to relocate this body, it is probable that. He could have. Made it to this area and disposed of her buried her body there, the mileage meant Josh could not have made it to Scotts mills in the rental car loan in order for this theory to work he'd have needed an assist from Michael or Steve there was a little bit of time like day baby that we can really count for Steve not a whole day, but maybe twelve hours or six hours or something like that. And it kind of fell in line with this whole piece of properties related to Steve's family. Josh and Susan had also visited the property wants together after Susan disappeared. And Josh moved to Washington MAURICE and Patti hit invited Josh to come visit again in order to get away from the media. But Josh never took them up on the offer. West valley police obtained a federal search warrant they briefed the Marion county sheriff's office and on may fourteenth two thousand thirteen arrived in Scotts mills with a team of cadaver dogs a lot of digging in a lot of searching of this ground. The dogs indicated the possible presence of decomposition at one location. Police spent an entire day, they're raking and probing the ground running the dogs over and over it. They didn't find anything. Nobody no evidence today. Police conceited they're coming to the end of their list of leads and even acknowledged the possibility the Susan Powell case could even become a cold case. Obviously, Susan still missing. So there are pieces that we don't have there's information. We don't have police did not publicly reveal at the time that while those dogs were searching in Scotts mills a detective and FBI agent were in nearby Silverton, grilling Josh's, Oncle MAURICE Leach. Murray had agreed to take a lie detector test, an FBI polygraph or came down from Portland. During the interview police records, say MAURICE told the agent he believed charleen. Brayden were still alive. Stephen told MAURICE pictures, the FBI had showed him following the fire were unrecognisable and possibly staged. Detective Alvin Davis told MAURICE that was not the case he had personally seen the bodies. Over the course of their hours long conversation. Marris's perspective changed. Police records say he expressed anger at Josh. And Michael saying they had lied to him. He wanted to have words with Steve because Stephen told him the police had made up the stuff about finding pictures of young naked neighbor girls in his house. I have made several attempts to contact MAURICE. But he's never responded to my messages. Cops arrived here on Tuesday they combed acre after acre. But ultimately called the search win cadaver dogs didn't turn up leads. We have not rested. We have not had a break we have been diligent and meticulously investigating this entire case west valley police returned home from Oregon on may sixteenth two thousand thirteen empty-handed. You know, this point lot of just tired. You know, it's been a long investigation. And when I say tired like we're not physically tired, mentally like, you'll only. I mean, I don't know how many times and individual can come across a potential breaking lead in a case and shutdowns like, Nope. The Senate needs to go find something else. And so I think we were all hopeful, I was hopeful. But again at the end of the day, just tons of resources and no results. But you know, we're able to say that she wasn't there. Detectives were not alone in feeling that sense of exhaustion. Chuck Cox was not ready to stop searching. He wondered if Susan's body might have ended up much closer to home, Steve Powell's home earlier this year, a Washington judge awarded Powell's victims, two young girls. One point eight million dollars Powell is now claiming he's just recently learned about the damages his ino- position to pay up, but Steve did have assets, including the south hill house from which he'd once filmed those underage neighbor girl's family of the two little girl that Steven Powell was convicted of photographing now own that house. They were warded that property in a court ordered settlement choke working with his attorney and a private investigator. Brought cadaver dogs to the house. They probed the ARD on the suspicion the Josh or Steve might have buried Susan. They're just as with the police in Oregon. Chuck Cox did not find anything. Journal of Steve Powell six thirty AM December eight two thousand nine twenty hours following the first report of Susan Powell's disappearance. Where is Susan if she were alive? Someone would have heard from her this morning, it will begin sinking into her co workers that she is not coming back will Josh drop. The boys off at the daycare. When he goes to his nine o'clock appointment with the police will Josh still be walking free after the nine o'clock appointment or will they lock him up through the night. I tried to think of things Josh said last night, the might suggest that he truly does not have a clue or Susan is. Maybe his story came out sounding cockeyed because he was so tired Michael suggested to Alina and me that if he has killed Susan. It was probably not premeditated since the story is so poorly planned if the worst happened that is he killed her. Did he bury her body would ever be found? Frequently the police breakdown perpetrators during interrogation, and they end up leading them to where the body is buried, although her parents mean nothing to me, I feel deeply for them. Whatever the outcome. I cannot imagine. There will be a good outcome. Four days after the end of the search in Scotts mills Oregon, west valley city leaders called a press conference after three plus long years of investigation into the disappearance of Susan Powell. We are nounce in the end of the active phase of the search for Susan the case had gone cold today. Susan is still missing we do not know where she is. Or what happened to her that same day, the city attorney and detective Darrel Dane, aka shameless went to court and asked a judge to lift the secrecy order, I had to sit down myself, and you know, my supervisor's we had a sit down with the Cox, family and share everything with them first. And so we met with them. And and we shared with them everything that we could share with them. And I believe we gave their attorney copy of. That release on a USB drive next reporters received their copies of the redacted case file on thirty two gigabyte flash drives tens of thousands of pages. And as you go through those it'll be to Monday morning quarterback perhaps. But I think at the end the day you'll see a police force that was completely dedicated from the beginning completely professional from the beginning. And it everything they could do to to find Susan and bring her home, technically, the Powell case remained open. There were still loose ends, including the ongoing efforts to crack the encryption on one of Josh's hard drives. So that version of the case file released to the media was a snapshot in time. Going forward Ellis continued to care for the case file from that point. I ended up leaving the midget crimes unit and went to managing the six hundred points program, and then I developed a college internship program. And so I ran both of those and took care of the Powell case. And every once in a while, I would handle some other investigative cases as it came along. But yeah, I did that from thirteen up until December fifteen when I retired. I had my twenty years and. Done was out. Public. Release of the redacted case file was a huge win for Susan's family. They seized on the documents within days they began handing out flyers along. I eighty four from Pendleton Oregon to Tremont in Utah. The search for missing Utah. Mom, Susan Powell has led Chuck Cox to a small tree Munton florist. It's first time in Utah in more than six months. His hope of finding her was renewed after west valley police disclosed all their investigation materials. Get some more tips from new tips. We did actually result of the KSL coverage of that. But the redacted case file didn't paint the whole picture important. Details about Josh and Michael's relationship and movements in the days after Susan's disappearance were not included. We decided we need to come down. And. Put out these flyers and get some attention to the people that live along that corridor. The public learned of Michael dumping, his Ford Taurus, but not the fine detail of his apparent later paranoia over at not having been destroyed. People seized on the reports of Josh having had an affair not realizing those tips had been discredited. The redacted case file held many many rabbit holes. I don't think an average person. Consid- down. Look, this really wrap their mind around it because there's just there's way too much information way. Too many details IRS hundred different directions at this case could have gone. Journal of Steve Powell eight AM, December eight two thousand nine twenty two hours following the first report of Susan Powell's disappearance. I am so tired but unable to sleep. I've been lying here. Thinking about my grandsons, Charlie and Brayden could Josh do something like this to their mother last night. Josh went to the recycler to find a stout piece of cardboard to cover the broken window. He said there was a picture of a woman on the carton as it lay on the living room floor. Brayden laid down on it and said, mommy, that was painful to hear I told Michael end of Lena that no matter what Susan's problems were she did not deserve the death penalty. Neither one has any sympathy for her Alina is aware. And I think Michael to that. I was in love with Susan yet. Neither seems to be sensitive to any feelings. I may have in the matter of. Her possible demise. They are so anxious to show solidarity with Josh is also troubling. Need to be the same attitude for the sake of the boys as well. As Josh who? After all is my son. The way his mother and her family treated him while growing up is no excuse for anything. He may have done in this matter. But I am not the court or a jury. I am his father. Steve Powell completed his sentence on the voyeurism charges and left prison on March twenty third two thousand fourteen and they knew it was coming, and it was going to be today and in all it had to come. And so I'm not particularly pleased about it. But it had to come Jennifer graves had no intention of reconciling with her father who was then a registered sex offender. How will be on probation for thirty months required to wear a GPS locator and attend sex offender treatment program. The corrections facility says he plans to live in Tacoma that plan soon fell apart in July, the Washington court of appeals reinstated the child pornography count, the judge Ronald colpepper tossed out at the beginning of Steve's two thousand twelve trial. Steve appealed to the Washington state supreme court, but the high court declined to take the case so on October twenty seventh two thousand fourteen Pierce county. Prosecutors obtained a new. Arrest warrant for Steve Powell, Steve and his sole surviving son John were at the time living together at a halfway house into comas hilltop area. Pierce county sheriff's detective sergeant Gary Sanders went and knocked on the door. He was surprised you try shutting the door on me. But you know, shut the door so John open the door. And I says your dad hear Steve was like, well, no, you, you know, and I was like no warrants. I was on the put him handcuffs again and take them back to jail. One more time Gary slapped a pair of pink handcuffs on Steve's wrists times of. Used handcuffs you use those? Head coach said certain detective from west valley gave me Steve's prison letters revealed. He believed police couldn't arrest him again on the child pornography charge. He figured that would amount to double jeopardy. That's not exactly how double jeopardy works. Steph's second trial did not go any better for him than the first on July fifteenth two thousand fifteen a jury found him guilty. The judge sentenced him to five additional years in prison. In August of two thousand fifteen Steve appealed that conviction. Washington's court of appeals heard arguments, then rejected the appeal. Steve in two thousand seventeen asked the Washington supreme court to review his case. Again, the court declined Steve was stuck. About meant before Michael jumped from the parking garage in Minneapolis. Chuck Cox gone to corden Utah and asked to be named conservator of his daughter's estate. Susan in the eyes of the law was still alive and would be until five years after the date of her disappearance. Trucks move put him in position to exercise thirty over Josh and Susan's trust and by extension her share of the life insurance money. After Michael suicide Chuck amended the trust making himself sole trustee. He froze out Josh's mom, Theresa and sister Alina. Steve had voluntarily surrendered any claim to the money that might seem noble gesture, but remember Steve owed his voyeurism victim's restitution, it was in his best interest to be penniless. A year later in may of two thousand fourteen the federal court into coma decided the inter pleader lawsuit over the life insurance money. It's split. The proceeds like this two and a half million dollars to Susan's estate three quarters of a million dollars to Michael's estate about twenty one thousand dollars to Alina and sixteen thousand dollars to John attorney and Bremner considered it a victory for the Cox family. We won the insurance battle, but hang on a second that October Josh's mom Terry sued Chuck in her complaint. She said Chuck's change to the trust had been illegal. She wanted an injunction to keep him from spending any of the money. Terry argued she was entitled to half of the proceeds through the trust an amount, totaling one point one million dollars. Terry and Chuck ended up settling out of court in two thousand. Fifteen terms of the arrangement were not disclosed when Michael killed himself. I thought case over her, right? We're done, but we weren't here came the rest of the palace, understandable perspective, given what I've just described. But let's talk about Terry for a minute. You haven't really heard Terry Powell's voice in this podcast aside from that I nine one one call she made the day of Susan's disappearance. There's a reason for that Terry has shunned the media she's repeatedly expressed a desire to have no contact when I've reached out to her but Terry did speak with police during the investigation, and what she said can provide some insight on her mindset. I'm surprised they can even talk usually. I'm just falling. Jump back to February two thousand ten Jennifer graves had just confronted Josh. While wearing a wire Steve was formulating his theory about Susan running off to Presidio and Terry sat down to speak with Ellis Maxwell. The truth. No, I won't be family. I'll have to go through for their. Oh, my family will Terry shared many of the troubling events from her divorce. She described how Steve had manipulated the kids exposing them to pornography and turning them against her. She said she felt concern at one point that Steve had inappropriate interest in the children, though. She never saw him act on it. Terry didn't seem to remember. Josh having threatened her with a knife when he was a teenager acclaim documented in her divorce records. Civically census. I don't Josh should be fun. Never seen. Recalled I can't imagine. I think that they'll significant. Something that you should hear from me. LS observed there were similarities between how Stephen treated Terry. And how Josh treated Susan Teri? Couldn't see it. I do see him as you know, getting things done, then he also. As a certain disregard or trying to accommodate other people. They needs. Gentle Terry would give her son the benefit of the doubt. And they you know, they want to see. But I didn't get any sense. I've been around them and willing to do to help which up in cloud for because he needed help somehow another Ellis as Jim as he could tried to warn Terry that the person responsible for Susan's disappearance would be held accountable. But as we now know no one ever has. Back after this. Hey, cold listeners. I love a good puzzle. And I'm betting you do too. There's nothing quite as satisfying as figuring out the answers just in the Nick of time. Introducing hunter killer a monthly subscription game where you become the detective immersed in a murder mystery. I just got my first box. 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Get ten percent off your first month by going to better help dot com slash cold. Why not get started today? Go to better help dot com slash cold. Simply fill out a questionnaire and get matched with a counselor. You'll love better help dot com slash cold. Journal of Steve Powell eight forty five AM, December eight two thousand nine. Twenty three hours following the first report of Susan Powell's disappearance went into a Lena's room a few minutes ago to find out if she has heard anything. I was crying. Lina mentioned she has mixed feelings about being perfectly straightforward if called on to testify about their relationship. She did not think Susan was quite the bit Josh made out to be and thanks. Josh may have helped Turner into a bit. I can't disagree with that. And I am with Alina. However, I said we should support him in any way, we can partly for the sake of the boys a doubt Susan is alive. And I doubt Josh's hands are clean if he murdered her. I wish he had not. But she did treat him in an almost schizophrenic way and person can only take so much. Chuck and Judy Cox had I filed their wrongful death lawsuit against Washington state in the Pierce county. Superior court in late November two thousand fourteen it jumped to the US district court into coma. The suit accused Washington's department of social and health services DSs as well as the social workers who handled charleen and Britain's case of failing to protect the boys ignoring the threat, Josh presented. We want the DS h as to switch gears, which is it's the best interest of the child. That's what they should be looking at not reunification any costs attorney Bremner and the rest of the team took that argument to the judge what we're saying is based on the facts, I think everybody knows is that there were red flags about Josh the biggest one being the disappearance of his wife in his involvement on Tober, seventh two thousand fifteen the federal district court ruled against the Kocsis in his decision judge. Ronald Layton wrote the court could not exercise the luxury of hindsight in judging the social workers for failing to prevent the murder. Layton, said federal law, provided the social workers, absolute immunity. Dss he said had done its job in notifying, the state court of the goings on. So it also could not be blamed, according to the order Pierce county. Superior court. Judge Katherine Nelson's decision to allow visitation at Josh Powell's house was the closest thing to cause for the murder in a footnote judge late and also mentioned the failed effort to pass Charlie. In Britain's law in Washington, he called it bad public policy in general, even though he conceded. It would have been fitted everyone in the pal case. On this the judge and and Bremner disagreed that should be the law in every state in the nation. It's pretty simple pretty simple, right? Two months later. The Cox's appealed the ruling to the ninth US circuit court of appeals. It took two years before the appeals court heard oral arguments on the case, the CPS workers failed even review the divorce file have they reviewed it. Is there something they would have found there that you think would have changed this outcome. Yes. You're on our believed that they would have they would have found that he had threatened to kill his mother with a knife. When he was younger that he had killed animals before all classic signs of people who can snap people who can do very violent things attorney, Ted. Buck argued the case on behalf of the is in Seattle on December fourth two thousand seventeen almost eight years to the day after Susan's disappearance the court assumed without evidence in the record. The judge Nelson had as much information as the law enforcement officers who are warning the social workers that they had concerns about the safety the boys that judge Nelson had as much information as the Cox's who had known Josh Powell for years as his own sister who obviously had known him for many many years. The court assumed that the judge knew that visitations were regularly occurring at the Powell house when the record does not support that assistant Washington attorney general Peter helm burger argued the hunches and beliefs of Susan's, friends and family members were not grounds for concern over and above what the family court already knew he noted Charlie and Brayden had not been afraid of their father. In fact, they had dashed to greet him at every visit it wasn't concerned based on him being violent towards his children unsupervised. It's finding and there was the FOX has check that the children were at risk of danger. And that's that was the the the the justification for requiring supervises attention with the natural father. Right. Correct. But it wasn't. It wasn't based on any reports relegations of abuse of physical abuse directed towards understand towards children Chuck left the courtroom that day feeling confident to me. It was like why don't you really now the ninth circuit over very impressive in their ability to. Get past the bowl down to the truth. So Chuck waited for good news. None came. Time went by. And he was reduced to waiting for any news. On January tenth two thousand eighteen right in the middle of this podcast. The appeals court released its decision the opinion from the appeals court upheld the immunity for the social workers. Meaning they could not be sued as individuals, but the appeals court reversed the district court's decision regarding DS HS, sending the Cox families negligence claim against the state of Washington back down for trial. Jury needs to be able to determine whether in the face of all of those risks. The state was deliberately indifferent in not moving visitation back to a secure facility in not assuring that you had a supervisor there who could intervene. These are Jewish issues as I record this that trial is still to come. And Bremner said she still hopes a jury will find in their favor forcing change in priorities and placing the safety of children above the parental rights of suspected murderers. And it's going to mean a lot to me and the Kocsis if we get that. It'll mean everything. Of course, one could also argue Washington might not have needed to protect Charlie and Brayden from Josh if police in Utah had arrested him in the first place. In the years since the murder-suicide many people have accused the west valley city police department of botching the case. So I asked Ellis Maxwell point blank. If he agreed absolute now with him, the case just comes from ignorance, in my opinion. But you know, I respect it and understand where they would come up with that not knowing everything that I know, you know, and the rest of the investigative team it's easy for people to. Monday morning quarterback case super easy. So I don't get offended when I hear it. And I think the reason why because I understand where they're coming from. But why didn't else just arrest? Josh we're getting there. But you know, Josh beat us to the punch. Unfortunately, Ellis told me he had hoped to screen the case against Josh four formal charges body or no body in the spring of two thousand twelve which raises an interesting point the case had never been screened and the tragedy is that we were moving at process now, we've won't get control human behavior, Salt Lake county district attorney sin Gill came into office in two thousand eleven midway through the Powell investigation. He learned that while members of his staff had worked with police on search warrants and subpoenas. Detectives and prosecutors had not met to review the evidence in a holistic way, I wanted to make sure that everybody who was part of the investigation got to give their input as. Well, as a collaborative collective of legal minds who said, okay, what is the flexibility of the range of our options that we have deputy DA Blake Nakamura told me prosecutors were willing to go forward with a no body case. But it depended on police chasing down every possible lead. The unique challenge in those kinds of cases is it creates an opportunity for all these alternative explanations. That are contrary to what the allegation of a homicide would be they went off. They meant somebody else they had debt, and so they're trying to leave the debt. Remember, they're only has to be one person saying, I have some reasonable doubt. As we've seen the Powell family worked hard to create those alternative explanations. Susan ran off to Brazil with Stephen coacher Susan was sexually motivated Susan was suicidal. Susan had. Used her boys. And when you're having to defeat that by circumstantial evidence that the person no is gone like no contact with family, no activity and financial records that tends to create a compelling picture. But when you're dealing with reasonable doubt. Sometimes that's not enough. It might seem likely to the majority of people that Josh Powell killed his wife, but prosecutors needed evidence to prove that it's not just the court of public opinion that gives you a successful prosecution is the evidence s necessary under a rule of law with the burden of proof that we have when you don't have that physical body when that forensic pieces missing. There is a whole host of logical possibilities, and if I have more than one logical possibility in any realistic sense. I have reasonable doubt not arresting Josh at the outset had been a tactical decision. Even now. Now sim- does not second. Guess it. This is not television. This isn't CSI this isn't cut away as where you browbeat somebody. They confess this is real life. And of course, there would have been no point in arresting. Josh from the beginning if prosecutors were not at that point prepared to file charges when decisions are made to file or not file those are not light decisions. And they're not like decisions because it is a situation where we file and we're not successful in that. We can't go back and say, geez. Can you? Give us a shot if they had charged Josh with murder and a jury acquitted him it wouldn't have mattered if someone later discovered Susan's body double jeopardy would have prohibited them from charging him again. In the wake of the Powell case Cim, instituted changes within the district attorney's office, they mandated in person screenings of homicide cases before a team of prosecutors ensuring diversity of you points and rigorous debate over the strength of the evidence. It's tough to save that process could have changed the outcome in the Pell case were at in place from the beginning. But sim like else does not believe police botched the investigation. Absolutely, not absolutely not. If anything what I wanted to indicate from what we learned. And what we observed. And what we at with that commitment to finding the proof. They never wavered from that. On June, sixth two thousand seventeen I mailed a letter to Steve Powell. In it. I described my work on this podcast, and expressed my interest in speaking with him in particular, I hope Steve and I could discuss his planned autobiography, which he had outlined in given the tentative title somewhere on the moon. Steve didn't respond to my letter. A few weeks later Steve left prison again after serving just a fraction of his five year sentence. He had received time off for good behavior. I actually staked out his address during visit to Tacoma that Tober, but I never saw him fire my dad's been pretty closed mouth about everything in relationship this case in I don't think he'll ever change that. Maybe I don't know. I mean miracles happen. But I don't see it happening at this point. I do believe that he knows about stuff that Josh probably told him. Stuff. Maybe he wasn't privy to it as as he was planning or or executing his plan. But I think that in, you know, at the end he was told I think he knows. Will he ever tell? I doubt. It Pierce county sheriff's detective sergeant Gary Sanders kept tabs on Steve after he left prison at that point. Gary was running the county's sex offender monitoring program and the notified us that he was hoping King County which kind of threw off because of health issues. Steve's health had taken a nosedive in the summer of two thousand eighteen Gary learn Stephen been admitted to Saint Joseph medical center into coma. Gary called the hospital in the hopes Steve might make a dying declaration. But the hospital told him Steve was getting better. They mentioned that he was on progression getting towards hell patient being released and stuff. So I kind of still monitoring, but I was not as concerned for the nine declaration then just before five AM on July twenty second two thousand eighteen Steve Powell died at the hospital. From severe cardiomyopathy heart failure. No one bothered to inform. Gary called down there to see. I'll hey hell was doing is. He is still in the hospital. The initially one tell me thing just because roles and stuff and the next plane because of the monitoring, and they then for me that he'd passed away word of Steve Powell's death started to spread. I learned early the morning of July twenty fourth. I immediately sent a text message to Ellis matter of fact, I learned of from you from Steve's passing I fired off a text to a couple of other guys that I'm real close with the were great asset to us today. Shen, and you know, we had our chuckles. And there wasn't a lot of a love loss there. So I mean, we still talk about Steve Chantrey and his music, and yeah, we're cops. We laugh about it. And that's how we get through things. Chuck Cox reacted differently to Steve's death passed. I got thinking what a waste of life. He's he ruined the lives of children his family. He took my daughter in the grandchildren tore part is own family. In going. What a loss. Steve's death certificate showed. He was cremated on August, sixth of two thousand eighteen it listed his youngest daughter Alina as his next of kin. Many news stories at the time suggested Stephen died. Knowing important information about the whereabouts of Susan's body, but Gary like Ellis wasn't. So sure hold much hope that he might say anything was the head of the slim chance in your mind. I think it was a slim chance he. He. I don't think he would've told us. And and to be honest. I don't know if he did know. Journal of Steve Powell ten thirty PM, December eight two thousand nine thirty six hours following the first report of Susan Powell's disappearance. I feel like Josh did a truly stupid thing and probably disposed of her body in a very grotesque way. I think he probably went to some former industrial land just west of west valley city and cremated her. I don't see how he could live with an image like that in his mind. I want Josh to be with his boys. But I am also angry with him for murdering such a beautiful woman that he could do such a thing once suggested he could do it. Again, if things go too badly, he could murder the boys and hang himself to avoid going to prison and leaving them with the Mormon families. That would no doubt take custody of them. Josh's life with Susan was utterly miserable. As was hers with him. Why she stayed with him? I do not know evidently this tragedy is my answer for why Josh hung on. He wanted to do it his way and avoid a messy and costly divorce. High of news forum. This will be very cost we process, and he may lose. Anyway, why someone who's otherwise? So smart would do something so utterly stupid is beyond me. Years ago. I made up my mind that Josh was of my kids capable of doing such a thing. But our conversations of late suggested that I had nothing to worry about. Although I thought about it with concern at times he seemed resolve that doing something so callous would be most disruptive to his and his children's lives. Now, I wish I had talked more about the likelihood that someone involved in such a crime would be caught. If I had only known if I could only turn back time. On the conclusion of cold, sometimes it isn't possible. Sometimes the right decision is to get out. If you haven't already please subscribe to cold toss us a rating or a review you can find cold on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at the cold podcast for video clips pictures from the case and more hit up the cold podcast dot com. Also, if Susan story sounds familiar in your own life. In other words, if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse in any form, please get immediate help in the US. Support is a phone call away at the national domestic violence hotline at one eight hundred seven nine nine seven two three three or online at WWW dot the hotline dot org. A quick thank you to the team. Kristen sorenson. Eric openshaw, Ken fall, Danielle Prager, cure, Fairmont. Becky, Bruce, Josh Tilton at a Mason, Jillian Friedman, and especially Cheryl Worsley, the music for cold was composed by Michael bond Miller, except for the tar stuff that was me cold is a KSL podcast. Thank you for listening.