Police focused on Josh Powell's odd behavior from the beginning, new documents show

Redacted reports reveal little new info in Susan Powell case

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 7 2012 12:00 p.m. MDT

In the latest affidavits signed Feb. 3, 2012 — two days before Josh Powell murdered his two young sons and killed himself after setting fire to his rental home in Graham, Wash. — West Valley police touched on much of the evidence collected in the case. That evidence included Susan Powell's blood found in her home, the note she left in a safety deposit box for authorities to find, and a paper trail documenting Josh Powell's handling of his family's multiple insurance policies.

In his initial search warrant, West Valley police detective David Greco noted that Josh Powell "did not know where his wife was and did not appear to be concerned about her welfare" when he first talked to him.

When Susan Powell's cellphone was spotted in the vehicle Josh Powell was driving the day he returned home, the detective noted: "Mr. Powell appeared nervous and could not account for the phone being in the vehicle."

Investigators also learned quickly from co-workers the Josh and Susan Powell had been having marital problems. Three different co-workers told police that Susan had told them "that if anything were to happen to her, that they were to give police a file that she had hidden from her husband."

Detectives would later find a folded letter, stapled around the edges, addressed to Susan Powell's family and friends with the title, "Last Will and Testament for Susan Powell," dated June 28, 2008. The note was found in a safety deposit box. The key for that box was found by police in Powell's purse.

Co-workers also told investigators they "heard comments from Joshua Powell about how to kill someone, dispose of the body and not get caught," according to a warrant.

In a later warrant filed in 2010, police documented that Josh Powell had told co-workers at a company Christmas party "that in order to get away with murder, he would hide a body in a mineshaft in the west desert of Utah. He believed he could hide this from law enforcement as they would never search an unstable mine."

Search warrants were served on the Powell home and family vehicle on Dec. 8, 2009.

On Dec. 9, 2009, then-Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller authorized a criminal investigation into the disappearance of Susan Powell, which was approved by Atherton.

After a search warrant was first served on Josh Powell's vehicle, he went to the Salt Lake City International Airport to rent a Ford Focus, which he put 807 miles on before returning, according to court documents.

On Dec. 13, 2009, a heavily redacted warrant states that police went back to the Powell house to get a gas can, generator and blanket that Josh Powell allegedly had with him when he took his two young sons camping.

Detectives pressed Powell about his decision to take his two young sons camping at that hour, court documents show.

Josh Powell also told detectives he was confused and mistakenly believed it was Sunday instead of Monday when he went camping, and didn't bother contacting work because he assumed he would be fired.

On Dec. 14, 2009, Josh Powell contacted Charlie and Braden's day care provider and indicated that "the children would not be coming back and she probably will not ever see them again," according to court documents.

The next day, Powell canceled all of his wife's chiropractor appointments. Two days later, he drained his wife's IRA account.

On Dec. 15, 2009, detectives served search warrants "for documents indicating abuse" including any journals they could find. They also looked for anything that indicated travel, such as "family vacations taken in the western desert of Utah."

On Dec. 16, 2009, a search warrant was served on Josh Powell's laptop, which had already been seized by investigators and was sitting in evidence.

By Dec. 31, 2009, West Valley police were seeking the Powells' bank records and insurance policies. On June 28, 2009, a few months before Susan Powell went missing, Josh Powell took out a New York Life Insurance policy on his wife worth an estimated $1 million and $250,000 each for his two sons, Charlie and Braden.

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