Susan Powell and Josh Powell married six months after they met when she was 18 and he was 25 years old.
Josh, on the other hand, told investigators that he had no idea why Susan’s phone was in his vehicle. The number of tools discovered in the vehicle, as well as the fact that Josh had taken his children camping on a school night during freezing temperatures, alarmed investigators.
The Salt Lake County district attorney, however, refused to charge anyone in the Powell family in connection with Susan Powell’s disappearance in the absence of a body.
On December 8, Josh rented a car and drove 800 miles before returning it to the Salt Lake City Airport on December 10. On December 9, however, police discovered blood containing Susan’s DNA on their carpet. On December 15, they discovered her handwritten documents in her safety deposit box.
“I have been experiencing extreme marital stress for the past three to four years,” she explained. “I believe that a paper trail is necessary for my and my children’s safety.” He has threatened to flee the country and has stated that if we divorce, there will be lawyers.”
When Charles returned to school, he informed his teacher that his mother had joined him on the camping trip but had died. Braden drew three people in a van and told his daycare provider, “Mommy was in the trunk.” Meanwhile, cops discovered Josh had liquidated Susan Powell’s IRA.
Steven Powell was arrested in 2011 for voyeurism and child pornography.
Josh and Susan Powell’s children returned to Puyallup that month to live with his father, Steven. A search warrant executed on Steven’s home, however, revealed child pornography, for which he was arrested in November 2011. Josh lost custody of his children to Susan’s parents in February 2012 and was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation, including a polygraph test.
However, at 12:30 p.m. on February 5, social worker Elizabeth Griffin brought his children over for a supervised visit. But as soon as the kids entered, Josh shut the door. He then axed his children, doused them in gasoline, and set fire to their home.
He’d just sent his attorney a one-line email that said, “I’m sorry, goodbye.”
Steven Powell died of natural causes after being released from prison. Josh’s brother Michael, whom investigators suspected of being a possible accomplice, jumped off a building on February 11, 2013. In July 2020, Washington State awarded Susan’s parents $98 million for negligence in the deaths of their grandchildren.