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Investigators searching South Hill home of Susan Powell’s husband, father-in-law

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Aug. 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm with 13 Comments »
August 25, 2011 7:54 pm


Susan Cox Powell

UPDATED: About 20 investigators from Utah and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday started searching the South Hill home of the husband and father-in-law of a Utah mother missing since 2009.

Susan Cox Powell, a Puyallup native, was last seen at her West Valley City, Utah, home on Dec. 6, 2009. There’s been no trace of her since.

Her 35-year-old husband, Josh Powell, long has been considered a person of interest in his wife’s disappearance. He denies harming his wife and has not been arrested or charged.

On Thursday, investigators and forensic specialists from each agency focused on the South Hill-area home where Josh Powell, has been living with his father, Steve Powell. Josh Powell has been at the house since moving back to the area with the couple’s two sons after his wife’s disappearance.

He and his father were detained for awhile outside the Silver Creek home while investigators searched the house, Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. The reason for the search – and what, if anything, investigators found was not made public.

“We are specifically looking for certain items, but I can’t tell you what they are,” said Lt. Bill Merritt, spokesman for West Valley City police. “The probable cause exists,” he said. “We believe it’s in the home or a vehicle. We’re not just walking in blindly saying, ‘I wonder what’s in here’.”

Merritt said his department brought a dozen detectives and investigators to Pierce County for the search. A large white trailer marked “West Valley City Police” sat directly in front of Powell’s house for most of the afternoon as investigators went through the house.

The street in the subdivision was packed with other police vehicles and television trucks. News helicopters circled overhead. Neighbors kept a close eye on the operation, gathering in small groups or walking slowly past the house.

Merritt said the search warrant also applied to vehicles at the property. Josh Powell waited while his vehicle was searched, which took about 45 minutes, Merritt said.

Josh Powell again declined to be interviewed by West Valley police, Merritt said “as he has since early in the case” and left during the rest of the search.

“Josh was very cooperative,” Merritt said, “but we were not able to interview him before he left.'”

Chuck Cox, Susan Powell’s father, said he was pleased the West Valley City police traveled to Washington State for the search.

“It shows they still consider this an active case and they’re following the evidence they have,” he said. “I’m not sure what they’re looking for there, but we’re glad they’re looking. We have a lot of confidence in them.”

The police activity took place as Josh Powell and his family and Susan Powell’s family engaged in a heated – and highly publicized – war of words over the past several days. The exchanges have taken a salacious turn, with Josh Powell’s family claiming Susan Powell was sexually promiscuous, emotionally unstable and suicidal. Her father-in-law claims she interacted with him in “sexual ways.”

Both sides appeared separately Thursday on nationally televised morning talk shows. In an interview on CBS’ “Early Show,” Josh Powell said he would never hurt his wife. He has said he believes his wife ran off with another man. “A lot of things don’t make sense,” he told CBS. “At first, I had no idea what to think.”

Susan Cox Powell’s family, meanwhile, appeared on NBC’s “The Today Show.” Cox called allegations that his daughter was flirtatious “outrageous, cowardly and despicable.”

The two families also have been publicly fighting over the possible release of Susan Powell’s diary. Josh Powell’s family has said the pages show she tried to commit suicide as a teen and could have walked away from her family. Cox has said he will fight the release of those pages.

Last week, West Valley City police detectives spent two days searching abandoned mines in the mountain desert around Ely, Nev. Police said the search was based on information from a search warrant executed shortly after Susan Powell disappeared and a new, credible tip in the case.

The location was about 235 miles southwest of the Powells’ home in West Valley City, Utah. Investigators found no remains and no evidence was taken from the mines but still called the two-day effort successful. They have declined to say what specifically led them to search the mines and what they were looking for.

Last weekend, Steve Powell and Cox got into a shouting match in front of reporters outside a Puyallup store while her relatives waved signs to remind people about her disappearance. On Tuesday, Josh Powell and Cox got anti-harassment orders against each other during a hearing in Pierce County Superior Court.

On the last day Susan Powell was seen her husband left for a midnight camping trip with their two sons, then ages 2 and 4, in subfreezing weather. Her purse and cellphone were found at the home.

Susan Powell, who turned 29 last October, was reported missing the next day when she failed to show up for work as a stockbroker. An $11,000 reward has offered been offered for information in her disappearance.

She graduated from Rogers High School in Puyallup in 2000 and married about nine months later. The two had met at a church and later moved to Utah.

Staff writer Rob Carson contributed to this report.

Leave a comment Comments → 13
  1. Oh geez…both these families are WHACK!!

  2. Harley5212001 says:

    Just curious why Josh never cooperated with Utah authorities when Susan first became missing. Why did she not go with him “camping” in freezing weather with kids? Why would he take young kids out in that environment?

  3. PolarBear53 says:

    Just watch the video it doesnt take much to tell he is lying.

  4. jameshoward58 says:

    What took them so long. This is customary in most jurisdictions. I think Husband will be arrested soon! No women takes her little kids camping in frigid weather.

  5. puyallupbaby says:

    this whole story is just becoming sick. i really wish chuck cox could spend his time and energy searching for susan and spreading the word about her story rather than having to follow everything Josh says to refute it. we get it. you two have totally different opinions of what happened to her. from now on chuck, just ignore josh & steve. everyone knows they are crazy, don’t let it get to you. be the proud father of a kind and beautiful daughter. nothing josh & steve say will change the truth about susan and those who knew her. please, don’t let them bring you down. stay positive and stay strong. let josh dig his own grave. at the rate he’s going, it won’t be too much longer now.
    remember, peace to you, peace to susan, peace to all others, peace to this world. say it over and over again. and focus on the good.

  6. Now this is what I call a Movie. Sorry Barefoot Bandit, my money is being spent on this Murder Mystery Movie. I’ll watch Barefoot when it’s out on DVD.

  7. ginahopk says:

    the husband says,” Maybe she ran off with another man?” If that were true she wouldn’t have left her purse and cell phone at home. This guy did something to her and I hope they arrest him soon. So sad about the children. It’s also very cruel for him to keep the grandparents from seeing their grandchildren.
    He is lyeing. I think he killed her. You also don’t take toddlers camping in the middle of the night in freezing weather. The whole thing stinks.

  8. Reason_enemy_of_faith says:

    Innocent until proven guilty went out the window in this case when the totally unbelievable excuse that he took two very small boys “camping” in subzero temps and left at midnight right when his wife and mother of his children disappeared forever. I think a jury would convict on those facts alone. I believe merely those facts prove him guilty beyond any REASONABLE doubt. So, normally I oppose all forms of torture, but water boarding this guy would most likely turn up Susan’s body in a very few short minutes. Or, offer him life without parole instead of the firing squad (manner of death penalty in Utah) if he gives up the body.

  9. We all know how painful this must be for Susan’s family- and the agony of her parents not being able to see their grand kids. These two creeps are starting to unravel their story and I hope and believe justice will be served.

  10. yes mr cox should just spend his time spreading the word about his daughter.dont worry one little bit,,,if they came all the way from utah to search they know something big!!!!when all is said and done you will probably be awarded the children!!!i know the hard thing to do is wait but i think they are getting close to arresting him!!!!i am sending your family some healing prayers mr cox..may the lord help you get thru this tough tough situation…just know your angel is watching over you ..and all those sick sick allegations they said about your daughter,a small person has to belittle people,talk bad about another person and all to make them self look better.belive me i think they got his number!!much much prayers of healing!!!

  11. Just hire Casey Anthony’s legal team and make a movie deal. Though I doubt Baez will accept the same “compensation” he most assuredly got from Casey.

  12. whatthehell says:

    everybody knows he did it, or he knows who did. they just need to find evidence + the body (for the dimmwited I know you can be convicted of a crime without the body ever being found).

    But I’m cheering him on..this might be a perfect crime..very cool.

  13. siragwatkins says:

    Assuming the husband is guilty (likely) & assuming the grandparents (maternal) get custody (also likely) it’s going to be yet another trauma for those little boys, who by this time probably only vaguely remember their grandparents, to be uprooted and find themselves living in a new place with new people, even though it will probably be a positive change.
    I hope the grandparents will understand that they’re likely to need professional counselling to bring them through all this craziness.

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