“It is so painful to know that I will never see Susan again. I feel like that is reality, in spite of the missing person report that went out to the media today. That’s the way it stacks up in my mind,” journaled Steve in a notebook uncovered by the creators of “The Disappearance of Susan Cox Powell.”
The 28-year-old mother of two was last seen alive two days earlier at the West Valley City, Utah, home she shared with her husband, Josh Powell, and two young sons, 4-year-old Charlie and 2-year-old Braden. A friend told police she had visited Susan that afternoon, but she left after Susan said she did not feel well and wanted to take a nap. Josh, who rarely cooked, had prepared pancakes and served them to Susan before she began to feel ill.
The entire Powell family was reported missing on December 7 after the children were not dropped off at daycare, and Josh and Susan failed to arrive at work. When police entered the Powell home, they found it empty, but they noticed two fans had been set up to dry a damp sofa in the living room. Specks of blood were discovered on a tile floor near the sofa. Susan’s purse, car keys and other personal belongings were also found in the home.
That afternoon, Josh returned home with his sons. In an interview with investigators, he claimed he had decided to take the boys on a camping trip at 12:30 AM the previous night, despite a storm that brought below freezing temperatures. He insisted Susan was home when they left and that he thought she was at work. Phone records showed he called and left Susan two voicemails during the day, even though it was discovered that her cell phone was in his car the entire time. The last person Josh called on December 6 was his father, Steve.
Not long after being questioned by police, Josh was named a person of interest and later became the prime suspect in Susan’s disappearance. Unfortunately, any information Josh could have had about his missing wife died with him in February 2012, when he struck his two sons with a hatchet before blowing up his home, killing all three.
While Josh has never been formally charged in connection with the case, Steve speculated about his son’s involvement during his journal entry, even going as far to say he believed Josh could have had something to do with her disappearance.
“I feel like Josh did a truly stupid thing, and probably disposed of her body in a truly grotesque way,” wrote Steve. “I think he probably went to some former industrial land just west of West Valley City and cremated her.”
In conclusion, Steve wrote: “Josh’s life with Susan was utterly miserable - 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.”
The Powell family patriarch, who had a disturbing sexual obsession with his daughter-in-law, wrote hundreds of journal entries about the young mother and even detailed how he wanted Susan to “become my wife.” In a series of video diaries, Steve professed his love for Susan, and he often stalked her to obtain footage for his own sexual gratification.
Some have theorized that Steve’s troubling infatuation could have had something to do with Susan’s disappearance, but Steve was never been charged in connection with the case.
In 2012, Steve 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 was released from prison in 2017 and died of a heart attack the following year. To this day, Susan remains missing, and police have closed their active investigation into her disappearance. The case is still assigned to a Utah detective, but police have said, “all leads ... have been exhausted and the case has gone cold.”
Watch “The Disappearance of Susan Cox Powell” on Oxygen to hear more from investigators and the Powell family.
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