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Steven Powell called in sick the day after his daughter-in-law was reported missing

Published: Wednesday, April 4 2012 3:04 p.m. MDT

WEST VALLEY CITY — Steven Powell did not show up for work the day after his daughter-in-law Susan Cox Powell was reported missing, taking two sick leave days.

As questions continue to swirl about what Steven Powell knew about the disappearance of Susan Powell, the Washington Department of Corrections has confirmed that Powell submitted a "leave slip" for Dec. 8 and 9, 2009, calling the time off "sick leave."

It was not known exactly when that time off was submitted. The leave slip could have been submitted to the Department of Corrections via Powell's computer, according to  department spokeswoman Judi Feliciano.

She did not know Wednesday if a reason was given on Powell's slip about why he was taking sick time.

Susan Powell was last seen at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009, by a family friend. On Monday, Dec. 7, Susan was reported missing to police by her mother-in-law, Terri Powell.

At 12:14 p.m. that Sunday, Josh Powell made a call to his father, Steven Powell, on his cellphone, according to court documents. The next activity on Josh Powell's cellphone wasn't until that Monday at 3:02 p.m. when he received a call from the son of the friend who had last seen Susan.

On the day Steven Powell took time off work, Tuesday, Dec. 8, Josh Powell surrendered his cellphone — minus the SIM card — and his minivan to West Valley police for examination. He then rented a Ford Focus at the Salt Lake City International Airport at 10:30 p.m., according to a recently unsealed search warrant.

On Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009, Josh Powell activated a new cellphone in Tremonton near the Utah-Idaho border. The phone was activated at 4:20 p.m. On Thursday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m., Josh Powell returned the rental car after having put more than 800 miles on it in a little less than 48 hours.

In 2011, West Valley police conducted high-profile searches in mountains outside of Ely, Nev. — where there are many abandoned mine shafts — and in the Topaz Mountain region in Utah's Juab County. In the warrant, investigators referred to a witness who told them Josh Powell once commented about how to kill someone, dispose of the body and not get caught. A woman at a company party with the Powells told police Josh Powell told them he liked to camp in Utah's western desert, an area full of mine shafts, with "tunnels that are very unstable so you could dispose of someone and no one would ever search for the body."

A one-way drive to Ely from Salt Lake City is 242 miles, and about 150 miles to Topaz, according to Mapquest. The distance from the Powells' hometown of Puyallup, Wash., to Salt Lake City is about 852 miles.

Chuck and Judy Cox, Susan Powell's parents, and Jennifer Graves, Steven Powell's estranged daughter, have each commented in the past that they believe Steven Powell knows what happened to Susan.

"I'm certain that he knows what happened at this point," Graves said Wednesday. "I would not be surprised at all to learn he had planned it."

Jennifer's husband, Kirk Graves, said Wednesday that Steven Powell was apparently in his Puyallup home on Dec. 6, the day when Susan Powell was reported missing. That information is based on a phone call his wife placed to the Puyallup home that day and Steven Powell was reportedly present at the time. Steven Powell took the sick time during the next two days.

During the last several years before Susan Powell went missing, Josh Powell would talk to his father on the phone "multiple times a week for multiple hours at a time," said Jennifer Graves, adding that it was something that was "very destructive" to Susan and Josh's relationship.

Steven Powell also had an obsession with Susan. Pictures of Susan Powell in her underwear taken without her knowledge were found during a search of Steven Powell's room at his Puyallup, Wash., home, according to court records.

Powell, who has been jailed since his arrest in September on charges of voyeurism and child pornography, told law enforcers after Josh Powell murdered his sons and killed himself that he has no interest in talking to them.

West Valley police have said they are interested in talking to Powell about what he knows about his daughter-in-law's disappearance. But Steven Powell isn't interested in talking to investigators.

Powell even filed a notice in court saying he "does not wish to discuss or make statements of any kind regarding any subject matter including, but not limited to, statements pertaining to any alleged or suspected criminal activity."

Steven Powell worked for the Washington Department of Corrections from March 1, 2006, until his arrest on Sept. 22, 2011. He was not a law enforcer. Rather, he sold furniture made by inmates to school districts and nonprofit agencies in Washington.

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

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