Missing: Susan Powell - She is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 130 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.
To escape the volume of publicity in Utah associated with the disappearance of Susan Powell, Joshua Powell and his two children, Charlie, 4, and Braden, 2, have gone to Puyallup, Washington and are staying with Powell's father, Steven Powell. Links to numerous Salt Lake Tribune stories embedded throughout the post; other media stories from the Deseret News, KSL Channel 5, and KSTU Channel 13.
All posts on this case available HERE, with the most recent post displaying first. You can also visit the Susan Powell Facebook page HERE.
Steven Powell granted a brief interview with a Salt Lake Tribune reporter at his home in a gated community called Country Hollow in South Hill just outside of Puyallup on Sunday December 20th, 2009. During the interview, Steven Powell complained "The whole thing has just turned into a vilification of Josh and it will turn into a vilification of me, my ex-wife and my other kids...I'm not making any statement because it doesn't matter how benign it is or how supportive it is. Somebody will twist it around." Asked whether he wants a chance to speak on behalf of Joshua Powell and explain the reasons why he thinks his son has been unfairly vilified, Steven Powell said, "I don't need to explain anything. There is nothing to explain."
John Hellewell, a friend of the Powells, was more forthcoming. He said Joshua told him Saturday he was fired from his job as a computer programmer for a trucking and warehousing company. Powell likely won't be able to make payments on the couple's West Valley City home and will lose it. According to Hellewell, "He just told me he needed to get away from the press and publicity and keep his kids away from it."
West Valley City Police Capt. Tom McLachlan said Powell left Utah on Friday or Saturday, and confirmed that Powell is free to come and go as he wishes. Powell's attorney, Scott Williams, confirmed that Joshua took the couple's two children with him on the trip, but Williams would not elaborate. The Pierce County Sheriff's Department, which is the responsible law enforcement agency in the area where both Steven Powell as well as Susan's parents Judy and Chuck Cox live, is assisting West Valley City Police with the case.
Josh Powell did participate in a candlelight vigil for Susan held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Ridgecrest chapel in Puyallup on Sunday. At least 200 people attended, including the Coxes, who said they couldn't understand why Josh showed up. But Chuck Cox chose not to interact with the Powell family at the event. Another vigil was held at 8:30 P.M. on Sunday evening at an LDS Church attended by about 30 of the Powells' friends and ward members in West Valley City. KSL news video embedded below:
Meanwhile, Susan Powell's parents grow increasingly skeptical of Josh Powell's story. Chuck and Judy Cox initially expressed his support for Josh, saying suspicion about his potential involvement could obscure the need to consider other possibilities surrounding Susan's disappearance. But as more time passes with no sign of Susan, they've changed their minds about the possibility of Josh's involvement, pleading with him to come forward with any knowledge he has about Susan's whereabouts. An anonymous donor is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the resolution of the case.
In addition, the Coxes are starting to publicly admit frustrations and concerns they've had with their son-in-law's behavior over the years. "We want to support him, but frankly the story he tells just doesn't come close. Our daughter was not afraid of him. She would stand up to him. If he was taking her children out in that kind of weather, she wouldn't have let him," Chuck Cox said.
Another Tribune story explores Josh Powell's reluctance to cooperate more fully with police, and explains why it may not necessarily be a sign of Josh's guilt. University of Utah law professor Daniel Medwed said some people refuse to talk to police for libertarian reasons. "You have a right to refuse to speak to police, a right to refuse to speak to law enforcement and a lot of people firmly believe they have a privacy interest at stake," Medwed said. Medwed added that many defense attorneys will advise even innocent clients not to talk. Research has shown police, especially during high profile cases, develop what Medwed called "tunnel vision" where they latch onto once suspect and ignore evidence against others. Apologists for Josh Powell explain his sudden midnight camping trip by saying he was impulsive and was prone to lose track of time.
But a willingness to cooperate with police is not an ironclad guarantee of innocence, either. In the case of Destiny Norton, her killer not only lived in the same neighborhood, but also actively participated in the search. And in the case of Hser Ner Moo, her killer lived in the same apartment complex.