• Jess Milton

The Disappearance of Susan Powell





This case is extremely sad, and man is there so much to it. Honestly, I just recently heard about this case and it really hit some nerves with me. This case makes me so mad and I have so many questions, so I figured it would be my first Crime Chaos post.


Susan Marie Powell was born on October 16th, 1981 in Alamogordo, NM. Susan was married to Josh Powell and they had two children, Braden Timothy Powell and Charles Joshua Powell. On December 6th, 2009 when Susan was only 28 years old, she disappeared from West Valley City, Utah.


Joshua Powell was born on January 20th, 1976 in Puyallup, Washington. Joshua had a rough upbringing and acted out as a teenager in many instances. He is said to have killed his sister's gerbils and threatened his mother with a butcher knife.


Joshua met Susan Cox (Powell) in November 2000, as they were classmates attending the same dinner party. They began a relationship and eventually got married in Portland in April 2001. Following their marriage, they lived with Joshua’s father, Steven. Steven became very infatuated with Susan. He began to spy on her with a camcorder around the house and read her personal journal entries. He stole her underwear from her laundry and even posted love songs online. Steven confessed his feelings to Susan, who rejected him and Susan and Joshua moved out of state shortly after this occurred. Susan and Joshua’s first son, Charles was born in 2005 and their second son, Braden would be born in 2007.


It was said that Susan’s journal entries indicated that there were issues in her marriage. She wrote about Joshua refusing to attend church and his continued interactions with Steven despite his behavior towards Susan. She also wrote about Joshua’s obscure spending habits and how he had filed for bankruptcy. In July of 2008, Susan created a video showing property damage that Joshua had done and showing their assets. At this time she also wrote a secret will and made the comment, “If I die, it may not be an accident, even if it looks like one.”


Susan was last seen on December 6th, 2009 at around 5:00PM. At this time a neighbor had visited Susan and the boys after church and ended up leaving at about 5:00PM. The following day, December 7th, Susan didn’t drop the boys off at daycare. The daycare worker immediately thought that was strange because Susan was always punctual and any time she was running late she would call and let the daycare know. At this time, the daycare worker called Susan’s job and received no answer. Then she called Josh’s job and they advised he had not shown up that day. The daycare worker began to worry and decided to drive over to the Powell’s home to check on the family. She knew that Susan had recently serviced their furnace and worried that maybe it didn’t get put back together properly and they had carbon monoxide poisoning.


This is where this case gets extremely messy and is so full of information. There is no way for me to cover the entirety of this without rambling on for hours. I am going to touch on some important factors in the case, but I strongly encourage you to read into it yourself.



At the time that the daycare worker, Joshua’s mom, Terrica and sister Jennifer, arrived at the Powell’s home, they were unable to make contact with anyone and immediately called the police. Due to the concern of carbon monoxide poisoning, when the police arrived they broke into a home through a window to obtain entry to the home. Once inside, no one was inside. They found Susan’s purse, with her wallet and ID, which seemed odd to them. There also appeared to be two box fans turned on and pointing at a wet spot on the floor and/or couch, which also seemed odd.


It wasn’t until later that evening, at about 5:00PM, that Joshua and the two boys had returned home. At this time the police took them to the police station for questioning. Joshua claimed he had no idea where his wife was. He said he had last seen her the night before at about midnight. The two had finished a movie and he had taken the boys on a camping trip to make smores. Guys, who takes their two young boys on a camping trip, at midnight, in the cold weather of Utah, to make smores, on a Sunday night. If that doesn’t raise any red flags, I don’t know what will.


The police interviewed Susan’s oldest son, Charlie, at the same time they were questioning Joshua. Charlie did confirm the camping trip that Joshua claimed they went on. However, Charlie says that Susan went on the trip with them. She just didn’t come back home with them. Charlie said she “stayed back with the crystals”. A few weeks after the disappearance, one of Charlie’s teachers reported that he claimed his mother was dead. Around the same time the younger son, Braden had drawn a picture at daycare of 3 people in a car and said that “mommy was in the trunk”.


In August of 2012 documents were released showing, Joshua began making some questionable moves. He cancelled all of Susan’s appointments that he knew had been previously scheduled. He liquidated Susan’s retirement accounts, and withdrew the boys from daycare. A coworker of Joshua’s came forward and had said that Joshua had previously spoken to him about how to hide a body and that the best place would be in an abandoned mineshaft in the Western Utah desert. He had also packed up the family’s belongings and his brother Michael helped move them back to their father Steven’s home in Puyallup.



On February 5th, 2012, a social worker, Elizabeth, had taken the boys to Joshua’s house for his scheduled supervised visit. After Susan’s parents received temporary full custody of the boys, Joshua was only allowed supervised visits. On this day, the boys had ran up to the door ahead of the social worker to see their dad. Joshua pulled the boys inside, then shut the door with a smirk, right in the social workers face. Elizabeth had knocked and begged for him to let her in, but when he did not, she called 9-1-1. She heard Joshua say “Charlie, I have a surprise for you!” and the younger son crying, to which she began to panic.

Elizabeth’s first 9-1-1 call was frustrating. The dispatcher didn’t understand the risk at hand and told her they would get the first available officer over there as soon as they could, but they were handling potentially life-threatening emergencies first. To which Elizabeth tries to explain that this could be life threatening and the boys could be in danger. She began to smell gasoline and jumped in her car to move it away from the house because she was concerned.


Elizabeth’s second 9-1-1 call came as the house nearly exploded in flames. Unfortunately, the boys (and Joshua) died in the fire. Investigations show that Joshua had hit the boys in their heads with a hatchet, potentially to knock them unconscious and then doused them and the entire house in gasoline before throwing the match. This is said to have been premeditated as we know now, Joshua emptied his bank accounts, sent emails and voicemails to his family, donated all of his sons toys and bought gasoline at 7 different gas stations in the days leading up to the double murder-suicide.


Still today, Susan’s body has not been found and we still cannot say for sure what happened to her. All of our chances of potentially getting information are pretty much gone with Joshua, his father Steven and his brother Michael all being dead. Most believe Joshua killed Susan and that his brother Michael or father Steven assisted him in the murder or hiding the body.


There are several podcasts, documentaries and articles on this case. Like I said earlier, there was SO much involved there was no way for me to squeeze it all in. I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions and concerns. It’s such a sad case and I can’t imagine the grief Susan’s family must have.


XOXO, Jess


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