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'Embarrassing' videos, journals taken from home, Steven Powell says

Josh Powell says he had 'nothing to do' with disappearance of his wife, Susan

Published: Saturday, Aug. 27 2011 1:09 a.m. MDT

A makeshift memorial for Susan Powell has been set up at Steven and Josh Powell's home in Washington Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. Powell has been missing since Dec. 6, 2010. (Pat Reavy, Deseret News) A makeshift memorial for Susan Powell has been set up at Steven and Josh Powell's home in Washington Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. Powell has been missing since Dec. 6, 2010. (Pat Reavy, Deseret News)

PUYALLUP, Wash. — West Valley police say they completed the task they set out to do.

Josh Powell says it was a lot of grandstanding.

West Valley police and Pierce County sheriff's deputies in Washington collected bags and boxes of evidence from the home of Powell and his father, Steven Powell, following a nearly nine hour search Thursday that didn't end until just before midnight.

"We came here with a goal in mind and we accomplished it," said West Valley Police Lt. Bill Merritt.

Josh Powell said the search warrant executed on his home and his vehicles was for his missing wife's childhood journals and any digital information related to her. But he voiced his displeasure Friday at how the search warrant was executed and over what was taken.

The family of Susan Cox Powell erected a billboard featuring information about their missing loved in Washington. (Susan Cox Powell family) The family of Susan Cox Powell erected a billboard featuring information about their missing loved in Washington. (Susan Cox Powell family)

"Cooperation is a two-way street," he told the Deseret News at his home Friday. "The way they're treating our family is completely atrocious."

According to Josh Powell, the family offered to turn over Susan Cox Powell's diaries a year ago but police refused. By wanting them now, he believes it shows a change of focus in the police investigation. He believes Susan's diaries will exonerate him once and for all because it will reveal her flirtatious nature.

"I had nothing to do with Susan's disappearance," Josh Powell restated Friday.

A Washington judge on Friday afternoon granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting Steven Powell and the three children who live with him — Josh Powell, Alina Powell and Michael Powell — from publishing or distributing any of Susan Powell's diaries. The motion was filed by Susan's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox.

Josh Powell in Washington during the search of his father\'s home. (Pat Reavy, Deseret News) Josh Powell in Washington during the search of his father\'s home. (Pat Reavy, Deseret News)

Josh Powell believes using more than two dozen officers from Utah and Washington to serve the warrant was a bigger "show" than was appropriate. As for taking every computer in the house, Powell said, "That's just nasty of them," noting that he offered to simply give them all of his hard-drives.

"It's a complete and total abuse of power," he said.

The search involved 13 West Valley police officers and 10 from the Pierce County Sheriff's Office. The West Valley officers met late Friday to go over what evidence they collected but had not yet determined when they would return to Utah, Merritt said.

"This is the biggest investigation that anybody in West Valley Police Department has ever seen and probably ever will see," Merritt said, noting that the amount of data investigators have to look through is enormous.

Chuck and Judy Cox talk about Cox's daughter, Susan Powell,  in Washington Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. Powell has been missing since Dec. 6, 2010. (Pat Reavy, Deseret News) Chuck and Judy Cox talk about Cox's daughter, Susan Powell, in Washington Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. Powell has been missing since Dec. 6, 2010. (Pat Reavy, Deseret News)

In addition to his daughter-in-law's journals, Steven Powell said potentially "embarrassing" pictures, videos and journals belonging to him were also seized by police.

In what has become a pattern of increasingly odd statements from Steven Powell, he maintained Friday that Susan Powell initiated a pattern of flirting with him and he claims he eventually developed a relationship with her. He didn't expound on that relationship but said his feelings evolved into an "obsession," and he wrote about it in his seized journal.

"There are definitely some things that were inappropriate for a married woman and her father-in-law," he told the Deseret News outside his home in Puyallup. "Frankly, after a long period of time, a year or two of her approaching me and being the one that was really initiating things and trying to titillate me and get my attention, yeah, I became very interested in her."

Steven Powell, Josh Powell's father, seen on Aug. 18, 2011, has said publicly he believes Susan Powell may have run away with another Utah man who went missing around the same time. (Deseret News archives) Steven Powell, Josh Powell's father, seen on Aug. 18, 2011, has said publicly he believes Susan Powell may have run away with another Utah man who went missing around the same time. (Deseret News archives)

Steven Powell said he took a lot of photographs and videos of Susan that show "Susan was very much a willing participant in our relationship" and that she craved his attention. He said the photos were "nothing graphic."

But Chuck Cox also maintained Friday that his daughter wanted nothing to do with Steven Powell — and he doesn't believe the public is buying what Steven Powell is saying about his daughter.

"The world is not that stupid. They know a lie when they hear it," he said, adding that he believes reading Steven Powell's journals would be "disgusting" and filled with "fantasies" he created.

The comments Friday were the latest barbs traded in the escalating verbal feud between Cox and the missing woman's husband and father-in-law.

Steven Powell's comments this week about having a relationship with Susan prompted Scott Burgen, who lives in the Powell neighborhood, to put a makeshift memorial for Susan Cox Powell on the edge of the Powells' corner lot property. Two pictures of Susan and a candle were placed on the lawn Friday along with a sign with the words, "Her blood cries out from the Earth for justice (for Susan)."

Approximately two dozen law enforcement office officers from the West Valley City Utah Police Department and Pierce County Sheriff's Department investigate the home of Josh Powell, husband of missing Utah mom Susan Powell, and his father Steve Powell in Puyallup, Wash., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011 (Associated Press) Approximately two dozen law enforcement office officers from the West Valley City Utah Police Department and Pierce County Sheriff's Department investigate the home of Josh Powell, husband of missing Utah mom Susan Powell, and his father Steve Powell in Puyallup, Wash., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011 (Associated Press)

"The message here is to put the focus on her, put the pressure on them," Burgen said.

The neighbor used such statements as "now the heat is on" and "this isn't going to go away" as he talked about the search warrant and the continuing investigation.

Merritt also reiterated that Josh Powell remains the only person of interest in the case because of his refusal to cooperate with investigators.

"He's the only person we need to talk to," the lieutenant said.

Even Steven Powell had agreed to talk to police on a couple of occasions, Merritt said. But he said Josh Powell's father has not talked to investigators recently.

Police serve a search warrant at Steven and Josh Powell's house in Washington Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011. (KING-TV) Police serve a search warrant at Steven and Josh Powell's house in Washington Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011. (KING-TV)

Thursday marked the first time since Susan Powell disappeared in December of 2009 that police had arrived at the Powell residence with a signed search warrant.

No one in the home was detained during the search. Powell's sister, Alina, reportedly stayed in the backyard, out of sight of the media. Josh Powell stayed for about an hour and then left with his two young sons. He wasn't spotted again at his home until Friday morning.

Steven Powell, who was in Kennewick, Wash., most of Thursday while the warrant was being served, said he had a feeling police might show up at his door, even though investigators never announced that they would.

"I honestly don't know why they were here," he said. "I wished I had removed some things from the house so they wouldn't have been taken. In another way, I'm glad they were taken."

Susan's adult journal was already seized early in the investigation, according to Steven Powell. He claimed he had been offering to turn Susan's childhood journals over to police for some time — but only in exchange for the adult journal.

This undated picture made available by Hardman Photography shows Susan Powell. The 28-year-old mother from the Salt Lake City area was reported missing on Monday, Dec. 7, 2009. (Amber Hardman, AP) This undated picture made available by Hardman Photography shows Susan Powell. The 28-year-old mother from the Salt Lake City area was reported missing on Monday, Dec. 7, 2009. (Amber Hardman, AP)

"They refused our offer," he said. "It was a pretty important thing for us to have."

Merritt said Friday he didn’t know how Powell would have known that police were coming with a search warrant, and if he did know and purposely tried to hide something so detectives couldn’t find it, it would be against the law. He also said police do not make bargains with potential evidence.

Steven Powell doesn't believe the search of his home, or the investigation, points to him or his son as being suspects.

He repeated claims Friday that Susan was "very sexually charged." When asked what that had to do with the investigation into her disappearance, he again mentioned the theory that she may have ran off with missing Utah resident Steven Koecher.

Chuck Cox said those theories have already been disregarded by police. "Susan did not run off with anybody," he said.

Josh Powell would not comment about his father's allegations of a relationship between him and Susan, saying he had discussed it enough. He earlier told an NBC "Dateline" reporter: "Susan never told me about any inappropriate relationship. My dad never told me about any inappropriate relationship.”

But close friends of Susan Powell and some family members have said this past week that Susan told them she insisted on moving to Utah, in part because of inappropriate advances from her father-in-law. They say she told her husband that his father would not be welcome in their West Valley home.

Chuck Cox admitted he thought the recent string of interviews Steven Powell has given was "very odd behavior."

"If anyone had a problem, it's Steven," he said, reacting to the man's suggestions that Susan had a problem with being flirtatious. "It does say a lot about the person making the accusations."

Chuck Cox believes the Powells' recent statements are part of a campaign intended to hurt his family, but said: "I'm not intimidated by him."

The Cox family would like the focus to stay on their daughter. But Chuck Cox admitted he couldn't have asked for more media coverage than he's received recently due to the comments of Steven and Josh Powell.

Susan Powell, a 28-year-old mother of two, has been missing since Dec. 6, 2009. The night before she was reported missing, Josh Powell said he took their young children camping in single-digit temperatures in a remote part of Tooele County in the middle of the night. When he returned a day and a half later, he said his wife was gone.

When asked by "Dateline" what he would tell people who think he killed his wife, Josh Powell said: “I've never hurt my wife. I've never, never hurt her. I've tried to defend her. She's been suffering, she has very low self-esteem because of severe emotional abuse as a child. She's had to live with that, and I've had to try to help her get through that kind of on a regular basis.”

Powell was also asked where he thinks police should be searching for his wife.

“I think they should be searching for a woman who is struggling, someone who wants to come back, is having a difficult time understanding how to come back,” he said.

Thursday's activity came during a week of renewed interest in the Susan Powell case, first sparked by a highly-publicized police search in Ely, Nev. Police said the new search warrant, however, was not connected to last weekend's desert search.

Contributing: Sarah Dallof

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

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