Susan Powell disappeared under suspicious circumstances in 2009 and her body has never been found, what happened to Susan remains a mystery to this day. 3 Years later Susan’s husband, Josh Powell killed himself along with their children in a house explosion during a supervised visit, Josh locked out the social workers from the home upon their arrival.

Susan Powell and Josh Powell with their kids
Susan Powell and Josh Powell with their kids

How did Susan and Josh Powell meet?

Susan and Josh’s story began like many others, both of them were devout members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon church. Their relationship moved quickly and within just six months, they married at the Portland Oregon Temple. Susan wanted to be a broker at Wells Fargo, and for that, she left her job as a cosmetologist, while Josh was in midst of jobs at the time.

Josh and Susan Powell were not the epitome of a great marriage

In 2005, the couple welcomed a son, Charlie and two years later, another son Braden arrived. Susan believed that the addition of two new family members would work as a glue in holding their family together because things weren’t going great for the Powells.


The situation was getting worse for Susan day by day, she began detailing the family’s struggle in her journals, and video tapped the family’s assets in case they divorced and something happens to her. The Powells filed for bankruptcy with $200,000 in debt in 2007. On June 28, 2008, Susan wrote a letter to her family and friends warning them about Josh. In the letter, she told them that Josh threatened to destroy her if she filed for divorce.

“For family and friends of Susan. All except Josh Powell. I don’t trust him. I have been having extreme marital stress for 3-4 years now. For my and my children’s safety, I feel the need to have a paper trail. He has threatened to skip the country and told me if we divorce there will be lawyers.”


“If I die it may not be an accident. Even if it looks like one. Take care of my boys. I love my boys, I live for them, I choose not to cheat or do drugs. I wouldn’t want to risk losing them.” The letter was then kept in Susan’s safe deposit box, to which only she had access.

Susan Powell moved to Utah to get away from her father-in-law, Steven Powell. She couldn’t stand the sight of the man, she spoke about him “(Steven) He is the most filthy foul, sick, disgusting pervert the world has ever seen. He’s in love with me. “

Susan was always repelled by Steven’s filthy activities, but Josh always defended his dad, saying that’s how he was. Susan’s sister had complained about her father-in-law’s inappropriate advances and that she also told about this to her husband too.


Susan Powell’s Disappearance

On the morning of 6th December 2009, Susan Cox Powell took her kids to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint. Susan received a call from her friend around 2:30 pm, this was the last call she either received or made from her phone.

At 5 pm, Susan’s neighbor Jovanna Owings stopped by the house. Susan had asked her to come over and help her with some household stuff. Josh planned dinner for the family, he said Owings could stay for the dinner, but her kids couldn’t come because he didn’t have much food.

Josh cooked the food, brought a plate to Owings and his wife, and sat down at the kitchen table with the boys to eat. Owings spoke about the incident later, “It was nice because the last time I had been there, he had to dominate the conversation. He had to be at the center of everything. When he came into a room it was all about Josh, what Josh had to say. That time it wasn’t like that and I thought, ‘That’s really nice.'”


The next morning the whole family was reported missing as the children had not been dropped off at the daycare that morning. Josh and Susan’s family went looking for them at their house after being informed about the kids by daycare. They contacted the police after they failed to contact Josh and Susan. Police broke into their house and found no one inside, they noticed two box fans blowing at a wet spot on the couch.

Susan also didn’t turn up at her job, the investigators found her purse, wallet, ID card inside the house, her phone was also found inside the house, near the family’s minivan.

Later that day when Josh returned home with the children, he was taken to the police station for questioning. He claimed that he had left Susan sleeping at home shortly after midnight on December 7, and had taken his boys on a camping trip to Simpson Springs in western Utah.

When police visited the site in Simpsons Springs there found no evidence of the campsite that Joshua had described. It was also hard to believe that Josh would take out his children camping in blizzard conditions when he had to go to work the next day. Josh clarified the situation by saying that he thought it was Sunday rather than a Monday.


Susan Powell Investigation

As the investigation began to unfold, an anonymous donor offered a $10,000 reward. Josh’s rental car was searched by police, along with the minivan, and the home was searched multiple times, but soon Josh lawyered up and stopped cooperating with the police, giving a hint that he wasn’t interested in his wife being found.

Susan Powell and her children

After a month of Susan’s disappearance, Josh called his friends and neighbors to help him load a moving van and trailer. John and his father launched the website According to Susan’s family, the website was launched to help find Susan, but it was mostly a platform for the Powell family to prove their innocence and defend themselves from the attacks from the public and Susan’s family. The website claimed that Susan had abandoned her family due to mental illness and that she had left with another man.

Josh used the website to accuse Susan of having an affair with another man, Steven Koecher, and plotting to divorce him. Steven also went missing in December 2009.


Why Josh remained the prime suspect

Upon searching the Powell residence on December 9, investigators found traces of Susan’s blood on the floor, a life insurance policy on Susan for $1.5 million, a handwritten letter. The DNA matched one blood sample with Susan, while the other sample was determined to have come from a male, however, unknown.

josh's family and Susan
Josh’s family, Michael, Steven, Josh, Charlie with Susan Powell

At the time of her disappearance, Susan’s friend claimed that her marriage had been in turmoil for years, and she had even seen a divorce lawyer. She also complained regularly to her friends about the lack of intimacy from her husband. The authorities also determined that Josh had filed paperwork to withdraw money from her retirement account about 10 days after Susan disappeared.


Josh acted very differently after his wife’s disappearance, when asked about the details from the night that his wife disappeared, he said that he could not remember the events leading up to her disappearance. He spent most of his time cleaning his minivan and garage instead of participating to put out flyers in malls and parking lots.

In August 2012, West Valley City police released documents showing that Josh’s actions were regarded as heavily suspicious. Detectives also noted in court documents “There was nothing missing from the residence, there was no sign of forced entry, and it didn’t appear there was a robbery, home invasion, burglary or any signs of a struggle.”


Death of Josh Powell and His Sons

On February 5, 2012, Charlie and Braden Powell were scheduled for a supervised visit at their father’s house with social worker Elizabeth Griffin Hall. Hall was supposed to monitor the visit between Josh and his children, reported that Josh came out grabbed his children, and would not let her through the door.

Hall pounded on the door and pleaded to let her in, after too much time passed, she started smelling gas, fearing that the car would blow up, she moved the car and contacted 9-1-1.

Soon the house exploded, killing Josh Powell and his children. After further investigation, the officials confirmed that the explosion had been deliberately planned. The official reason for death was determined to be carbon monoxide poisoning. Although the authorities also noted that the children had significant chopping injuries on the head and neck. A hatchet was also recovered next to Josh’s body, and officers believed that Josh attacked the boys before they died due to smoke and fumes. The fire department also found two five gallons of cans of gasoline, and conclusive evidence that the gasoline had been spread throughout the house.


Josh’s relatives and friends informed authorities that he had contacted them by email minutes before the incident to say goodbye. Josh withdraw $7,000 from his bank account and donated his children’s books and toys to local charities the day before the incident. He named his brother Michael as the main beneficiary of his life insurance policy.

Both the children Charles and Braden were buried near their mother at Woodbine Cemetery. Josh’s father, Steven who was in Jail, did not seem upset by the news, but he was angry towards the authorities who informed him.

“There is no doubt that the murders of the two boys as a horrific tragedy. But the department can’t get children out of people’s homes because they want to, they don’t have the authority to do that.”


Susan Powell remains a missing person, but considering the fate of her children, it is hard not to say that she was not murdered by her husband Josh Powell. On May 21, 2013, West Valley City police closed their investigation into Susan Powell’s disappearance, stating that they believed Josh murdered her and his brother, Michael, who also killed himself in February 2013 after suspicion grew around him, that he helped his brother conceal Susan’s body.

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