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Father-in-law of Susan Cox Powell arrested on charges of voyeurism, possession of nude photos of minors in Washington

Published: Thursday, Sept. 22 2011 11:05 p.m. MDT

Steven Powell, Josh Powell's father, seen on Aug. 18, 2011, has said publicly he believes Susan Powell may have run away with another Utah man who went missing around the same time.

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WEST VALLEY CITY — Police are reporting that Steven Powell, the father-in-law of missing West Valley City woman Susan Cox Powell has been arrested.

According to the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office, the arrest was connected to the discovery of "thousands of images of females being videotaped without their knowledge" in the man's home — including some images of Susan Cox Powell.

The 61-year-old has been charged with 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and was taken into custody Thursday, Pierce County Prosecutor's Office said in a news release. Some of the images and videos featured individuals as young as 8-years-old in addition to adults.

The photos depicted women and girls in various states of undress and often focused on intimate parts of their bodies.

Sheriff's officials said some of the photos appeared to have been taken from inside Steven Powell's home. It is believed the photos were taken between June 2006 and August 2007, when some of the victims lived next door to Steven Powell.

West Valley Police Sgt. Mike Powell sent out a news release about the arrest late Thursday and said only that "this arrest is not related to the case involving the disappearance of Susan Cox-Powell."

"The arrest stems from an investigation by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office into evidence seized in a recent search warrant conducted by the Sheriff’s Office with the support of the West Valley City Police Department," Powell wrote.

Police officers from both agencies served a warrant on the Puyallup, Wash. home Steven Powell shares with his son, Josh Powell on Aug. 25. Videos, Susan Cox-Powell's journals and all of the computers in the home were seized during that search.

Mike Powell said West Valley Police would not be releasing any additional information on the arrest and referred calls to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office in Washington.

Calls to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office were not immediately returned Thursday evening. 

Susan Powell, a 28-year-old mother of two, has been missing since Dec. 6, 2009. The night before she was reported missing, Josh Powell said he took their two young children camping in single-digit temperatures in a remote part of Tooele County in the middle of the night. When he returned a day and a half later, he said his wife was gone.

Josh Powell has been called a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife because West Valley police say he has been uncooperative. He was not, however, believed to have been involved in the activity surrounding his father's arrest. 

Around the time the warrants were served, Steven Powell began to infer that he had a romantic relationship with his daughter-in-law.

In August, he told the Deseret News that Susan Cox Powell initiated a pattern of flirting with him and he claims he eventually developed a relationship with her. He didn't expound on that relationship but said his feelings evolved into an "obsession," and he wrote about it in his seized journal.

"There are definitely some things that were inappropriate for a married woman and her father-in-law," he told the Deseret News outside his home in Puyallup. "Frankly, after a long period of time, a year or two of her approaching me and being the one that was really initiating things and trying to titillate me and get my attention, yeah, I became very interested in her."

Calls to the Powell home were not returned Thursday. 

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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