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Search of landfill uncovers Josh Powell map; Powell house 'staged'

Published: Wednesday, July 1 2015 7:16 p.m. MDT

Josh Powell, the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, is surrounded by reporters as he leaves a Pierce County courtroom, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. Powell was attending a hearing regarding a motion for custody of his two children that was filed by his father-in-law, Chuck Cox. (Associated Press) Josh Powell, the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, is surrounded by reporters as he leaves a Pierce County courtroom, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. Powell was attending a hearing regarding a motion for custody of his two children that was filed by his father-in-law, Chuck Cox. (Associated Press)

PUYALLUP, Wash. — The Pierce County Sheriff's Department says it will hang onto a map and books belonging to Josh and Susan Powell, found in a landfill, until authorities determine whether the items hold any evidentiary value.

Police also are now saying they don't believe Powell actually lived in the home where he killed his two sons and himself, but just used it for supervised visits with his children.

A two-day search of the recycling area of a landfill near Graham, Wash., the town where Josh Powell rented the house that he torched while killing himself and his two young boys, turned up a map of Utah, books and other papers belonging to the Powells.

Josh Powell dropped the items off at the landfill the day before he carried out his double murder-suicide plot on Feb. 5.

Pierce County Sheriff's Sgt. Ed Troyer said the map is of Utah. He did not know immediately if the map was of the entire state or a specific area. Troyer said there were no extra markings on the map, such as pen or pencil marks, that weren't already printed on the map when it was sold.

In this bank surveillance photo released by the Pierce Co. Sheriff's Dept., Josh Powell, left, is seen making a withdrawal at a bank in Puyallup, Wash., Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, the day before Powell and his two young sons were killed after police say Powell set fire to the home he was living in during a visit with his sons. (AP Photo/Pierce Co. Sheriff's Dept.) In this bank surveillance photo released by the Pierce Co. Sheriff's Dept., Josh Powell, left, is seen making a withdrawal at a bank in Puyallup, Wash., Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, the day before Powell and his two young sons were killed after police say Powell set fire to the home he was living in during a visit with his sons. (AP Photo/Pierce Co. Sheriff's Dept.)

Meanwhile, West Valley police said they had not received any test results back as of Tuesday on a comforter with a blood stain found in Josh Powell's Washington state storage shed. The stain on the pink comforter was not large, Troyer said. Although it was confirmed to be blood, investigators did not know whose blood it was or even if it was human or animal blood.

A private interment for Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5, Powell was held Monday at Woodbine Cemetery in Puyallup. Funeral services for the boys were held Saturday.

Josh Powell is considered a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, Susan Cox Powell, more than two years ago. He said he went camping in the middle of the night with his two sons to a remote area of Tooele County on a snowy night in December, and when he returned his wife was gone.

Prior to killing himself and his sons, Josh Powell had been entangled in a bitter custody battle for the two boys with his in-laws, Chuck and Judy Cox.

Powell lost custody of his boys after his father Steve Powell was arrested and charged with voyeurism and possession of child pornography. To be able to see his boys, Josh Powell was supposed to move from his father's home.

Josh Powell, the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, is surrounded by reporters as he leaves a Pierce County courtroom, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. Powell was attending a hearing regarding a motion for custody of his two children that was filed by his father-in-law, Chuck Cox. (Ted S. Warren, Associated Press) Josh Powell, the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, is surrounded by reporters as he leaves a Pierce County courtroom, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. Powell was attending a hearing regarding a motion for custody of his two children that was filed by his father-in-law, Chuck Cox. (Ted S. Warren, Associated Press)

But detectives don't believe Josh Powell actually lived in the house he was renting in Graham, but used it to fool his social worker.

"We believe that the house was staged, just for the purpose of the visitation and to make himself look like a good dad with photos on the wall, the kids' stuff, the minivan in the driveway," Troyer told Dateline NBC last week. "Unfortunately, it was everything but that."

Detectives believe Powell still lived at his father's house in Puyallup.

Email: preavy@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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