Powell Family Tragedy

Powell Family Tragedy

Josh Powell was alleged to have killed his wife and children. His father was reported to be obsessed with Josh’s wife Susan. Records show that Josh had behavioral problems as a child and threatened his mother with a knife. This page also details allegations against Steven Powell, Josh Powell’s father.

Please note that this page describes violent crimes.

Murder of Powell’s sons

Josh Powell Told Sons He Had ‘Surprise’ For Them, Social Worker By CHRIS CUOMO, HARRY PHILLIPS and COLLEEN CURRY TACOMA, Wash. Feb. 9, 2012

Josh Powell told his sons he had a “big surprise” for them as they ran toward his home Sunday, just moments before he attacked them with a hatchet and then blew them up, social worker Elizabeth Griffin-Hall told ABC News today. “He caught my eye, his shoulders were slumped. He had a sheepish look,” Griffin-Hall told “20/20” in an exclusive interview. “He just shrugged his shoulders and slammed the door.”

Griffin-Hall said she had been taking the boys, Charles, 7, and Braden, 5, on supervised visits to Powell’s house for three months. Powell, who was the sole suspect in his wife Susan Cox’s disappearance in 2009, had lost custody of the children in September and lost an appeal to get his children back just four days before he decided to kill them.


Charlie and Braden Powell: Family, Teachers Remember Powell Boys At Tacoma Funeral By RACHEL LA CORTE 02/12/12 TACOMA, Wash.

More than a thousand people mourned the deaths of Charlie and Braden Powell at a public funeral Saturday, nearly a week after the young boys’ father killed them and himself in a gas-fueled blaze.

Allegations against Josh Powell before his death

Murder-suicide dad Josh Powell had cartoon sex, incest images on computer February 18, 2012 Associated Press OLYMPIA, Wash.

Three weeks before Josh Powell killed himself and kids in a violent inferno, Utah authorities disclosed to social workers for the first time that his computer once contained some 400 images of cartoon sex and incest.

Investigators had initially told Washington state officials that there were only a half-dozen images, seized in 2009, but the social worker tasked with keeping the kids safe sent off a note to a psychologist saying “it is now clear there are many more images than initially indicated.”

The psychologist who had previously praised Powell’s strong parenting skills found the images to be a “great concern” and quickly suggested a more intense evaluation of the father. Powell killed himself before that assessment took place.

Many of the approximately 400 images described in documents released under Washington state public records laws Friday included sexual depictions of popular cartoons, including child-focused characters such as Rugrats, Dennis the Menace and SpongeBob SquarePants. Another 15 images showed 3-D depictions of sex involving parents and their children.

Powell had initially told the psychologist that he visited only pornography sites featuring adults. “Given the gaps of information about Mr. Powell there seems reason to conclude he may not presently be a stable and appropriate resource for his children,” wrote Dr. James Manley in a follow-up report dated Jan. 31.


New documents released from Powell custody case by Brooke Adams, Nate Carlisle and Melinda Rogers The Salt Lake Tribune Mar 3, 2012

….other documents among 1,699 pages released by Washington authorities Friday show that long before the state took protective custody of Powell’s children, his oldest son was clearly struggling with the disappearance of his mother and scrutiny that surrounded the family.

….The documents offer a complicated portrait of Powell. He is described as sometimes making inappropriate comments in the presence of his sons about police, his in-laws and others he considered as out to get him and becoming agitated when one son said his mother had been found in the desert; a psychologist who evaluated him said he appeared to be putting on a front. But Powell also is described as a loving, involved father whose supervised visits with his sons that could have been the script for a parenting manual.

….But the documents show that months after Powell relocated, people who interacted with his sons were noting odd behavior. On Aug. 20, 2010, a daycare worker at the YMCA in Puyallup, Wash., called Child Protective Services about comments made by Charlie, then 5. Charlie was asked why he didn’t want to play with other children. During the exchange, Charlie responded that, “My little brother Braden tried to kill me, so he’s in Utah now living with my grandparents” — something that wasn’t true. Charlie also had described to other children how to kill and bury a bear, something he said he learned from a television program. The document says daycare workers considered the stories “suspicious” and a DSHS caseworker relayed both stories to West Valley City Police.

….Days after his sons were placed in protective custody, Powell sent an email to a DSHS caseworker stating his children were not exposed to any pornographic material his father might have had in the home, which was “why we never thought there was a problem.”

Powell also claimed that his mother Terri would provide a statement saying Steve Powell “never left pornographic materials laying around and never gave any hint at creating porn on any level during her 20-year marriage” — a claim refuted by documents filed in the couple’s 1993 divorce. In those documents Terri Powell said her husband kept a stash of pornographic material and shared it with their older sons.

Letters Josh Powell wrote to his sons http://www.scribd.com/doc/83559020/Letters-Josh-Powell-wrote-to-his-sons

Josh Powell’s Childhood

Josh Powell Threatened His Mother With Knife, ’90s-Era Court Documents Allege By ALICE GOMSTYN , CHRIS CUOMO , GERRY WAGSCHAL, BROOKE STANGELAND and JOE RHEE Feb. 9, 2012
Josh Powell, the husband of a missing Utah woman who killed himself and his two young sons last week, was a disturbed adolescent who threatened and hit his mother, according to 1992 court documents obtained by ABC News.

The documents, filed during the divorce of Josh Powell’s parents in Washington state, Steven and Terrica Powell, include several statements by Terrica Powell describing her son’s disturbing behavior.

Terrica Powell wrote that her son once tried to commit suicide and also threatened her with a butcher knife. On other occasions, he and one of his brothers pushed and hit her, she wrote….

Josh Powell was the only named person-of-interest in Susan Powell’s disappearance, but he was never charged. He continually denied involvement in his wife’s disappearance and later moved himself and his sons to live with his father, Steven Powell — Terrica Powell’s ex-husband — in Washington state.

The couple’s two sons were placed in the custody of Susan Powell’s parents after Steven Powell was arrested on charges of voyeurism and child pornography in September 2011. Steven Powell has denied the charges. A judge ruled earlier this month that Josh Powell could not have custody of his sons until he underwent a psycho-sexual evaluation.


Powell’s story: cruelty, abuse from an early age – A look at the divorce file of Josh Powell’s parents shows extreme discord between the parents over everything from religion to pornography. And both parents had concerns about Josh. The Salt Lake Tribune; and The Associated Press February 10, 2012

Long before Josh Powell killed himself and his sons, the pages of his parents’ divorce file portrayed him as a seriously troubled teen who attempted suicide, killed pet gerbils, once threatened his mother with a butcher knife and early on adopted his father’s allegedly disparaging view of women.

As an adult, Powell appears to have repeated in his own marriage to Susan Cox Powell some of the same emotionally abusive behavior he witnessed growing up, according to a story in The Salt Lake Tribune….Court files show the divorce of Steve and Terrica Powell involved not only serious conflicts over parenting and religion, but allegations of mental unfitness, pornography, polygamy and even witchcraft, The Tribune reported.

A tug of war ensued over the children, who at the time ranged in age from 18 to 7. Josh, the second-oldest child, was 16. In 1992 court filings, Steve claimed his wife, who studied herbs and natural healing, had mixed a New Age mysticism with Mormon beliefs in a way that amounted to practicing “witch craft and devil worship.” Terrica responded that Steve’s interest in pornography, which he shared with their sons, had corrupted him, the newspaper said, quoting court files….

In the divorce case, Terrica told the court her husband’s parenting was offensive. He subjected Josh in particular to overly harsh discipline, she said. “For years, he pointedly attacked Josh very frequently, nearly every day for a time,” she wrote. Steve acknowledged Josh was a challenge.


Josh Powell Update: Documents report Powell killed pets, threatened mother with knife as a teen By Crimesider Staff February 13, 2012 (CBS) PUYALLUP, Wash.

New information about Josh Powell’s past came to light last week when the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper reported that documents from Powell’s parents’ divorce two decades ago portray the then-16-year-old as seriously troubled….

Powell had been a suspect in the disappearance of his wife, Susan, who has been missing since December 2009. On Friday, police found a comforter stained with blood in a storage unit rented by Powell, reported CBS affiliate KIRO.


Steven Powell (father of Josh Powell)

Father-in-law dragged deeper into Powell saga Feb 10, 2012 By GENE JOHNSON and MIKE BAKER Associated Press OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP)

In a folder on his work computer labeled “Personal Pics,” Steve Powell maintained a peculiar collection of photos: 55 depicting his daughter-in-law Susan but few if any showing his son.

Thousands of images and emails on his Washington state government-issued laptop provide a small glimpse into his increasingly scrutinized world. Authorities said this week that he is a person of interest in her 2009 disappearance in Utah. The files, obtained by The Associated Press as part of a public records request, portray Steve Powell as a meticulous worker who gathered photos by the thousands and had his life upended by the constant inquiries that ensued after Susan vanished. He is now in jail on voyeurism and child pornography charges – and on suicide watch….

Until this week, authorities have only publicly discussed Steve Powell in relation to the charges he now faces. But a warrant and emails indicate that he has been dragged deeply into the Utah investigation surrounding his son, and police say they want to interview him to see if he knows anything about his daughter-in-law’s disappearance….

Steve Powell said last year that he had a flirtatious and somewhat sexual relationship with Susan Powell. Her parents said she thought he was a creep and moved to Utah in part to get away from him. In a search of Steve Powell’s Washington state home last year, authorities found explicit images on his computers and images of people being photographed without their knowledge. Among them were pictures of Susan Powell. Those findings led to the voyeurism and child porn charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty. The state took custody of Josh Powell’s boys and turned them over to Susan’s parents, Chuck and Judy Cox.


Powell Family Tragedy: A Timeline of Events

….In an interview with “Good Morning America” Steven Powell (father of Josh Powell) makes new claims that he had a flirtatious relationship with his daughter-in-law that was “a little beyond the pale.”

“Father-in-law – daughter-in-law flirting with each other, maybe some sexual touching or whatever,” Steven Powell said of the relationship that he developed with his son’s wife, adding that he started to fall in love with her, and stated, “there’s no question in my mind that the feelings were mutual.”

Sept. 22, 2011: Steven Powell is charged with using a telephoto lens to take photos of two young girls in the bathroom of a neighboring house. The photos, which were found during the August search of his home, are among thousands he secretly took of women’s buttocks and breasts, according to charges filed against him. Powell was charged with 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of child pornography and held on $200,000 bail.

Josh Powell is named a “subject” in the child porn investigation, according to assistant Attorney General for Washington John Long.
Susan Powell’s parents file to gain custody of the two boys in court the following day…..

Sept. 28, 2011: Josh and Susan Powell’s two boys are ordered by a Washington court to remain in the custody of her parents Chuck and Judy Cox, because they had been living in a dangerous home environment with sexually explicit material, and because of the possibility that Josh Powell participated in the voyeurism and child pornography charges against his father. He is, however, granted visitation rights with his boys. http://abcnews.go.com/US/powell-family-tragedy-timeline-events/story?id=15520239#.TzXrTFFH6c-

New trial date set for Steven Powell March 16, 2012, by Ben Winslow TACOMA, Washington

A new trial date has been scheduled for the father of Josh Powell. Steven Powell appeared briefly in Pierce Co. Superior Court on Friday, where a judge scheduled an April 23 hearing on a motion to suppress evidence in the criminal case against him. The judge also scheduled a May 7 trial.

Steven Powell is facing voyeurism and child pornography-related charges. He’s accused of taking photos and video of girls and women. Police claim that one of those he filmed without their knowledge is his daughter-in-law, missing West Valley City mother Susan Cox Powell. She vanished in 2009 and has not been found. Powell’s son, Josh Powell, killed himself and his children last month in an explosion and fire at a home he was renting. http://fox13now.com/2012/03/16/new-trial-date-set-for-steven-powell/

Susan’s Powell’s Death

Susan Powell’s Blood Found At Josh Powell’s Home, New Documents Show By MIKE BAKER 03/30/12

TACOMA, Wash. — Authorities investigating the 2009 disappearance of a Utah woman found her blood in the family home and a hand-written note in which she expressed fear about her husband and her potential demise, according to documents unsealed Friday.
The files raise further questions about why Susan Powell’s husband was never charged in her disappearance before he killed himself and their two young sons in a gas-fueled inferno in Washington state earlier this year. Investigators in West Valley City, Utah, never arrested Josh Powell or even publicly labeled him as a suspect in his wife’s disappearance….

Shortly after Susan Powell disappeared, authorities found blood evidence on a floor next to a sofa and determined that it was Susan Powell’s. The sofa appeared to have been recently cleaned, and two fans had been set up to blow on it.

Investigators found several life insurance policies on Susan Powell that totaled $1.5 million and determined that Josh Powell had filed paperwork to withdraw her retirement account money about 10 days after her disappearance.

The documents describe Josh Powell as unwilling to help in the investigation.

A safety deposit box used by Susan Powell had a hand-written letter titled “Last will & testament for Susan Powell,” according to the documents. She wrote in that letter that she did not trust her husband and that they’d been having marital troubles for four years.

The letter also said that “if Susan Powell dies it may not be an accident, even if it looks like one,” according to the documents….

Investigators had found a gas can, tarps and a shovel in Josh Powell’s vehicle shortly after the investigation began. Susan Powell’s cellphone was also in the car, and Josh Powell “did not have an answer as to why,” according to the documents. One person interviewed by police said Powell had once made comments about how to kill someone and dispose of the body….

The documents also describe how Steven Powell had an apparent obsession with his daughter-in-law. A locked cabinet in Steve Powell’s bedroom contained multiple images of Susan Powell, including some of her in her underwear. Other images showed nude female bodies with Susan Powell’s face copied onto them. Another image showed Steven Powell masturbating to an image of Susan Powell.

Susan Powell wrote in her personal journals that she did not want Steven Powell involved in her life and wished that Josh Powell would sever ties with him.

Susan Powell’s Parents: Josh Powell’s Dad Knows What Happened To Missing Daughter 4/4/2012

….Josh Powell, the primary “person of interest” in the missing person case, killed himself and his two sons by setting fire to his home earlier this year. Despite evidence suggesting Josh played a role in Susan’s disappearance, he was never arrested by authorities in West Valley City, Utah. As a result, Susan Powell’s family believe the authorities are at least partially responsible for the death of her two sons, Braden, 5, and Charles, 7….

Court documents unsealed on Friday revealed that Susan Powell left a letter in a safety deposit box saying she did not trust her husband and that if she were to die, “it may not be an accident, even if it looks like one,” the Associated Press reported.
Authorities also found Susan Powell’s blood on a floor next to a sofa, which appeared to have been recently cleaned and had two fans set up to dry it.

Josh Powell, who is described in the documents as “unwilling to help” the investigation, said he took his two sons on a late-night camping trip the night Susan Powell disappeared. Investigators found Susan’s cell phone in her husband’s car, which he “did not have an answer” to explain, the Associated Press reported.

Susan’s purse, keys and credit cards were among some of the other belongings found in the couple’s bedroom. The documents also show that Susan Powell had several life insurance policies, totaling $1.5 million in value. “There is direct evidence. There is circumstantial evidence. There is motive,” Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist told ABC News. “There is everything but the body.”

The court documents also detail an apparent obsession Steven Powell had with his daughter-in-law. In a cabinet belonging to Steven Powell, authorities found several images of Susan, some of which showed her in her underwear, while others featured her face copied onto other women’s naked bodies. Another image depicted Steven Powell masturbating to an image of his daughter-in-law. According to Susan Powell’s personal journals, she did not want anything to do with Steven Powell, whom she described as a pedophile. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/04/susan-powell-josh-powell-charles-judy-cox-steven-utah_n_1403293.html

Josh Powell Friend Says He Bragged of Knowing How to Dump a Body
By Katie Kindelan Apr 5, 2012

The friend to whom Josh Powell once bragged that he knew “how to kill someone, dispose of a body and not get caught,” according to recently revealed court documents, said it was “scary that I even had that conversation with him.”

Powell boasted at a 2008 Christmas party he attended with now-missing wife Susan that he knew how to commit the perfect crime, thanks to his obsession with television crime shows, the friend told ABC-affiliate KTVX in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The TV report did not name the friend but ABC News has identified him as Scott Hardman.

“He was basically telling me about how the best way to dispose of a body would be down a mineshaft like a vertical one,” Hardman said in the KTVX interview. “It would be the best way of disposing one because they’re so unstable.”


Josh Powell Bragged About Committing Perfect Crime, Friend Says 04/5/2012 David Lohr

….Speaking with KTVX, Hardman said the conversation took place at a 2008 Christmas party, roughly a year before the disappearance of Powell’s wife, Susan Cox Powell….

Hardman said Powell was obsessed with television crime shows and credited them with teaching him how to get away with murder….

Hardman’s tip prompted police to search dozens of abandoned mines outside of Ely, Nev., but they found no evidence that Susan Powell’s body had been disposed of in a shaft.