Josh Powell seems nervous, evasive in videotaped police interviews

Published: Tuesday, June 25 2013 10:10 p.m. MDT

Josh Powell gets emotional during an interview with West Valley police on Dec. 8, 2009, shortly after the disappearance of his wife, Susan Cox Powell. Videotapes of the interviews were released this week following a public records request.

West Valley police

WEST VALLEY CITY — Josh Powell seemed to get anxious whenever the words "Miranda rights" were mentioned by West Valley police detective Ellis Maxwell.

"I'm not trying to hide anything," Powell nervously tells Maxwell.

"Then I need you to answer these questions," he fires back.

A day after Susan Cox Powell went missing from her West Valley home in 2009, police attempted to interview her husband, Josh Powell, at the West Valley Police Department. But, as has been noted in several previously unsealed documents, Powell seemed to be evasive with detectives, not giving complete answers to their questions.

The videotaped interviews with Josh Powell were released to the Deseret News and KSL this week through a Government Records Access and Management Act request.

In the interview, a meek-looking Powell is seated in a small room in a chair backed into a corner while an officer sits directly facing him from about a foot away with no table or barrier between them.

In one video, Powell seems reluctant to talk to Maxwell, who reminds him several times that he is not under arrest and is free to leave at any time.

"What do you want us to do? Do you want us to not talk to you and hope (your wife) just shows up?" Maxwell asks.

Powell mentions several times that he thinks he should call a lawyer and says he fears the officer will try to entrap him. He speaks slowly, at times very softly, and some of his statements seem to just trail off as Maxwell interviews him.

"You guys are already trying to trap me on little things," Powell said.

"We need to find your wife. I would think you would want to help me find your wife," Maxwell said. "Do you not want to find your wife? … Why are you making this so difficult, then?"

At one point, Powell seems to be fighting back tears as he tells Maxwell he's scared of answering more questions.

"If you didn't do anything wrong, then there's nothing to be scared about," the detective replies.

As Maxwell proceeds to question Powell about the events of Dec. 6-7, 2009, Powell remembers some things well and seems to have a memory lapse on other items, such as what he packed in his car the night he said he took his young sons, Charlie and Braden, camping in a remote are of Tooele County near the Pony Express Trail. It's the same night that Susan Powell went missing.

"Oh come on, Josh, you remember putting cream cheese in your pancake and you can't remember what you put in your car?" a frustrated Maxwell says at one point.

After more than an hour of questioning, Maxwell's tone with Powell becomes more serious as he gets ready to read Powell his Miranda rights. Maxwell said he needed Powell's help if he was going to find his wife, and then asks Powell if he considers himself a suspect. Powell says no.

"I'm not arresting you. I'm not taking you to jail," Maxwell tells an increasingly nervous Powell right before reading him his rights. "We need to eliminate you as being a person of interest. There's nobody else out there for me to go and talk to and to clarify. So I need to verify your story, right?"

"I told you everything that I know," Powell protests.

Powell tells investigators at that point in the interview that he really thinks he needs a lawyer and asks to wait a couple of days so he can think about answering more questions.

"Your wife is missing, Josh, and you want to think about it for a couple of days?" Maxwell asks.

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere