Did Steven Powell help plot Susan's disappearance?

Published: Friday, April 6 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

Steven Powell, Josh Powell's father, seen on Aug. 18, 2011. Corrections officials in Washington confirm he called in sick from work the day after his daughter-in-law, Susan Cox Powell, was reported missing. He took two sick leave days during the same time Josh Powell rented a vehicle and put 800 miles on it in less than 48 hours.

WEST VALLEY CITY — A Seattle attorney who has been corresponding with a former co-worker of Steven Powell now believes the father of Josh Powell may have gone camping in Utah just before Susan Cox Powell disappeared and she's trying to determine exactly the date of the trip.

Anne Bremner, the attorney for Chuck and Judy Cox, received an email Thursday from a woman who worked at the Washington Department of Corrections with Steven Powell. The woman claimed that Powell had talked to her about a camping trip he took with Josh, Charlie and Braden Powell on a cold day in Utah about the same time that Susan Powell disappeared.

Powell told the woman that they had a campfire, roasted marshmallows and sang songs, Bremner said. It was information the woman said she also gave to law enforcement, possibly as early as 2010.

The co-worker does not want to be named, Bremner said. She said she sent the information to authorities in Pierce County, asking them to forward the details to Utah investigators. The Associated Press was able to review her email correspondence and verify that she did work with Steven Powell and is among the Department of Corrections workers copied on work emails with Powell.

An attorney for Steven Powell did not return a call seeking comment.

Police in West Valley City also did not return calls seeking comment.

Bremner's announcement Thursday connected Josh Powell's father with the son prior to the disappearance of Susan Powell. Friday she said she was working out a timeline on when it was believed Steven Powell went camping.

"It appears it more likely was in late November," Bremner said. Susan Powell went missing in December.

Detective Ed Troyer, with the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, said the camping trip Steven Powell was a part of was prior to Susan Powell disappearing, possibly a month earlier. He said the co-worker did not report the information initially to his office, but may have called to get the number for West Valley police. Troyer said the woman wanted to remain anonymous.

Chuck Cox said Friday he would not be surprised to learn that Steven Powell was in Utah before his daughter disappeared and the weekend of her disappearance.

"I think he may have been out there that weekend and I think he may have been out there possibly before that. I would go further than 'scoping things out,' I think he might have been out there setting things up," Cox said when asked whether any inferences could be made into Powell's alleged camping trip.

Asked whether he believed Josh Powell was capable of planning something like the murder of his wife and an alleged camping trip as a cover-up on his own, Cox said Powell could plan something like that, but he would have needed someone to push him along.

"Josh planned all kinds of stuff and researched lots of stuff, but he never did anything. That was his problem. He very seldom took action without being motivated or directed or coaxed into actually physically taking action on anything," he said. "If Steve was there that night, or the week leading up to it — I suspect that night — that would make a whole lot of sense to me."

Cox added that the information that has come to light in the past week is "revealing and it appears they're a step closer to closure and finding out what really happened, and it basically confirms our suspicions."

Josh Powell told authorities he left to go camping on Dec. 7, 2009, at approximately 12:30 a.m. In court documents filed by the Cox family in 2011 while trying to gain custody of Charlie and Braden, Chuck Cox said he last talked to his daughter on the phone on Dec. 4, 2009.

At 12:14 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2009, Josh Powell called his father on his cellphone. It was the last call made or received on Josh's phone before his wife disappeared.

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