Josh Powell made 'admission of guilt' in wife's death, psychologist says
Father vows to keep looking for Susan Cox Powell
"We did want to bring a murder charge against Josh Powell and hold him accountable for what we believe probably happened," Quinlan said. "But if you bring that case in the current condition it is, you do run a sufficient risk that the charges would either be brought down to lesser offenses or an acquittal. It was a very high stakes gamble that we were not willing to take."
But Cox said he believes there was enough circumstantial evidence and called investigators' decision not to file charges "flawed."
"I understand their reasoning as far as the crime scene and lack of a body. But I personally (think they) came to the wrong conclusion on the circumstantial evidence. I think there was plenty," he said.
Bremner concurred that circumstantial evidence can be just as strong as direct evidence in some cases.
Juan Becerra, who was working at one time as the field coordinator for the profiling unit at the FBI's headquarters in Quantico, Va., said from what he observed, West Valley police did everything they could have possibly done with the case. They were even working toward ways of filing charges without finding Susan Powell's body.
"Without a body, it's extremely, extremely difficult to charge a case. They were stuck and the D.A.'s office was stuck with a very, very difficult case," he said. "It doesn't matter what you think, it only matters what you can prove. The D.A.'s office has to go on the evidence and so does the FBI. And as much as you try, if you can't come up with clear and convincing evidence to charge, there really is no way to shake that tree so that it bears fruit in order to obtain a conviction or even charge him. And as I said, without a body it's extremely difficult to do that."
Retired FBI special agent Lou Bertram, a psychological profile coordinator who did not have an active role in the Powell investigation, said from what he observed, the case went cold after 48 hours.
"I hate to criticize the West Valley Police Department, but basically it all added up to zero. There are four people who are dead. There is no doubt Josh killed his wife," he said. "This case was finished after 48 hours, no matter what the West Valley Police Department tried."
Bertram said he would have attempted to question the Powell children earlier. He also believes West Valley police should have brought in expert help earlier in their investigation.
"Not every criminal case can end in closure. This is one," he said.
One area where police and Cox agree is their belief that Josh Powell's father, Steven Powell, knows more about what happened to Susan than he's telling.
Steven Powell was sentenced to Monroe Correctional Complex in Monroe, Wash., last year after being convicted of multiple counts of voyeurism. West Vally police said Monday that they don't currently believe, however, that he had anything to do with the disappearance.
Quinlan said Tuesday: "We have investigated that component with Steve very, very thoroughly," and found it hard to believe that Josh Powell lived with him for so many months after Susan's disappearance and Steven Powell didn't see, overhear or directly talk to Josh Powell about his wife being missing.
In August of 2012, West Valley detectives attempted to interview Steven Powell in prison about Josh Powell, according to newly released police reports. He refused to give them information. But investigators commented on his body language, noting that he would noticeably shake when confronted about his own journal entries talking about the possibility of Josh Powell killing his sons before the event actually happened, and then watched as his "eyes welled with tears."
"I told Steve that he is the only one who ever expressed or knew about that danger and I asked him again what he did to stop Josh," one detective wrote.
Later, the detective grilled Steven Powell about whether he ever asked his son where he went after his wife disappeared. Steven Powell refused to answer.
"I again told Steve that since what Josh told him was a lie, and what he told the media was a lie, that Steve should commence helping us find out what Josh did with Susan's body. Steven demanded that he be returned to his cell," the report states.
According to police records, Steven Powell is currently writing a novel.
"He knows a lot more than he's telling, and obviously, so do federal authorities," Cox said.
With so much information now out in the public, Bremner said she believes the search for Susan is anything but over.
"It's difficult for the case to shut down when I think we're on the verge of somewhere," she said.
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