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When police searched the home of Steve Powell in 2011, they discovered a treasure trove of sexually inappropriate — and illegal — videos and photographs. Along with taking extensive footage of his missing daughter-in-law, Susan Cox Powell, Steve had documented several other women and young girls.
In one set of photographs, Steve had captured two neighborhood girls, 8 and 10 years old, in various states of undress, reported The Los Angeles Times. Steve was ultimately arrested and charged with 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of possessing depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
While investigators were disturbed by the findings, Steve’s daughter, Alina Powell, believes his collection of footage is far from criminal. In conversation with “The Disappearance of Susan Cox Powell,” which is available to stream now on the Oxygen app, Alina defended her father and maintained that no one had been traumatized by his behavior.
“There was never any photo dissemination. There was never anything that really led to [the women and girls] suffering a harm,” said Alina. “No intimidation, or stalking, or harassment or threats.”
Alina contended that though his actions were “crappy” and “inappropriate,” Steve was not “some kind of monster.” She also argued the pictures were taken through “an open window” and that the women and girls “chose to be visible.”
In regard to Steve’s sexual obsession with his daughter-in-law, Alina claimed Susan wanted “the attention” and even flirted with Steve while married to his son, Josh Powell. Alina alleged there was a “side to Susan” that her family and friends did not want the media to see.
“At first, my dad was oblivious. You know, he just had no idea what she was doing ...” said Alina. “But then over time, when I started seeing him actually clue in to it and respond, then I started to get worried that he might be taking it seriously.”
Steve’s “response” took shape through hours’ worth of video diaries detailing his love for Susan, a 28-year-old mother of two. Police also discovered Steve had stalked Susan to obtain footage of her for his own sexual gratification and that he had collected her personal items, such as underwear and used feminine hygiene products.
Pierce County Detective Gary Sanders recalled Steve had saved used cotton balls in Ziploc bags that were dated with her name as well as toenail and hair clippings.
Steve was never charged in connection with Susan’s disappearance, but he was found guilty of 14 counts of voyeurism for taking inappropriate images of neighborhood girls and sentenced to two and a half years in prison, reported ABC News. He was later sentenced to an additional five years in prison for possession of child pornography, according to The News Tribune.
Steve died shortly after his release in 2017.
Josh was named a person of interest early on in the investigation, and he was a prime suspect before he struck his two sons with a hatchet and blew up their home in a gas explosion, killing all three.
To this day, Alina believes Steve and Josh had nothing to do with the case: “My dad, he wasn’t there when Susan disappeared, he was three states away with me. And he himself loved Susan.” She argues it is “implausible” that Josh was involved in his wife’s vanishing, adding that Steve was “100 percent convinced that Josh was innocent.”
As of now, Susan Cox Powell remains missing, and her case is still assigned to a detective.
Watch “The Disappearance of Susan Cox Powell” on Oxygen to learn more about the investigation.
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