Mormon mother of two Susan Powell goes missing on December 6, 2009 and police have never found her remains. At the time the Powell family comprised Susan, 28, Josh, 33, and their two children Charles, 4, and Braden 2.
Police immediately zoom in on the husband Joshua Powell who will for nearly two years not serve jail time although the sizeable amount of evidence found in his and his wife’s home. Detectives discover that the Josh not only had a motive, comprising two large life insurance policies one from Beneficial Life for $500k and another from New York Life for $2.5 million, but also Susan had been secretly journaling her dysfunctional marriage, her husband’s likely infidelities, and the very surreal feeling she had of her eventual murder.
“Every moment I step back and take stock of what I’m dealing with, it feels like a never ending cycle but I’m too afraid of the consequences, losing my kids, him kidnapping [them], divorce or actions worse on his part …
—SUSAN POWELL E-MAIL, JULY 5, 2008”
Before her disappearance Susan was divorcing her abusive husband and even documented her possessions using a video camera so she could give to her divorce attorney. Although the video is supposed to be a routine documentation of house items owned by both parties, it reflects the eerie and foreboding outcome of the Powell household.
“If I die, it may not be an accident, even if it looks like one,” Powell wrote. “Take care of my boys.”
Neither Josh Powell nor any of his immediate family cared much to look for his missing wife and instead launched a campaign via social media and blogs to smear his wife’s image and the image of her religion and church. Many media interviews show the accurate image of Josh Powell as he desperately attempts to conjure up some tears and sadness. The nation views him as a sociopath.
Steve Powell, the biological father of Josh and father-in-law to Susan, had developed his own creepy obsessions with his son’s wife. Steve would eventually be arrested on many counts of voyeurism and child pornography, only serving a short stint in prison for his creepy pedophilic acts.
Detectives interview Josh but receive little information from the husband. What they knew about her disappearance though was that at 8:30pm the evening Susan went missing a neighbor sees Josh Powell returning home from an evening sledding with his two boys. Another neighbor claims to hear the couple arguing and fighting loudly, and at 11:45 pm the sound of the couple’s car alarm can be heard. By this point Susan Powell is most likely deceased.
Josh Powell concocts a story of taking his two kids camping around midnight at the Simpson Springs Campground. The weather at the time was below freezing.
However, both of Joshua’s children will later claim that “mommy is in the trunk”, and that the entire family went camping, but “mommy didn’t come back.”
On Tuesday December 8th, two days after the disappearance of his wife, Josh Powell rents a 2009 Ford Focus from Hertz and drives over 807 miles. He also registers a new cellphone and repeatedly calls Susan’s phone, which detectives will learn was in the passenger seat of the vehicle. Even more coincidental is Steve Powell takes two days off work during this same day and presumably hatches a plan with his son to dispose of Susan’s corpse.
Steve’s brother Michael also takes a leave of absence and sells his car to an auto parts and salvage facility called Lindell at 411 N.E. Hwy.11. Detectives track down this car, which they surmise was the transport vehicle for Susan Powell’s remains as police sniffer dogs picked up the scent of a dead body once being in the trunk.
Nearly two years after Susan Powell went missing, Josh Powell must go a psychological exam to win back custody of his children. The exam was given by Dr. James Manley on December 9th, 2011 and although police found many videos and photos of child pornography depicting cartoon characters, such as The Rugrats, performing depraved sexual acts on each other, Dr. James Manley writes in his report, “In my experience, Josh is a loving and very engaged father in the care of his sons, and Charlie and Braden are happy, well-adjusted and vibrant children, even though they miss their mother.”
Despite Dr. Manley’s raving review about Josh Powell’s parenting skills, he was not allowed full custody of his children, but was granted supervised visits. On February 5th, 2012, Josh emailed his custody attorney, Jeffrey Basset, saying, “I’m sorry, goodbye.” minutes before trapping his two children inside his home, attempting to kill them with a hatchet, and setting the house a blaze killing everyone inside.