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Letters to family show Steven Powell still defiant behind bars

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 4 2015 1:51 a.m. MDT

Steven Powell, seen In this Aug. 19, 2011, photo, is expected to be released from prison within a month. Newly-released letters he has written from prison show he is still distrustful of law enforcement and is plotting a wrongful death lawsuit for the death of his son, Josh Powell. (Rick Egan, AP) Steven Powell, seen In this Aug. 19, 2011, photo, is expected to be released from prison within a month. Newly-released letters he has written from prison show he is still distrustful of law enforcement and is plotting a wrongful death lawsuit for the death of his son, Josh Powell. (Rick Egan, AP)

WEST VALLEY CITY — After spending a year behind bars, Steven Powell's feelings toward Chuck Cox, the West Valley Police Department, and the LDS Church apparently remain sour.

Among the tens of thousands of pages of information from the Susan Cox Powell investigation released by West Valley police on Monday, were letters written from Steven Powell to his daughter Alina and son Michael during the time he's been incarcerated.

A review of some of the letters shows that the patriarch of the Powell family, who was convicted by a Tacoma jury on 14 counts of voyeurism in May of 2012 and sentenced to prison, reveals his distrust of law enforcement and his extremely negative feelings for Chuck Cox. The letters also show that he was plotting a wrongful death lawsuit against law enforcement for the death of his son, Josh Powell, and has been busy writing a novel with his own beliefs about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

West Valley police said Monday that they believe Michael Powell, who committed suicide in February, was "intimately involved" in Susan Powell's disappearance. (Facebook) West Valley police said Monday that they believe Michael Powell, who committed suicide in February, was "intimately involved" in Susan Powell's disappearance. (Facebook)

Powell wrote two letters dated Dec. 16, 2012, to his daughter Alina, and to his son Michael Powell. In the letter to his son, Steven Powell said "law enforcement is out of control," and he made a point of noting that he believes the majority of officers with West Valley police and the FBI are LDS.

"What the state has done to me is 100 percent illegal," he wrote.

Powell wrote that he believes he will have a "strong wrongful death suit" once he gets out prison — which could be within the next month. He also wants to find a "competent" appeals attorney so his criminal conviction can be overturned.

"The egg flowing down the faces of the government will be massive, I believe. They must be held accountable!!!," Powell wrote. "I want them to think twice next time they decide to attack an innocent family."

Josh Powell, the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, appears in court Sept. 28, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. The man suspected of killing his wife murdered his two young sons and then killed himself in February of 2012. (Ted S. Warren, Associated Press) Josh Powell, the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, appears in court Sept. 28, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. The man suspected of killing his wife murdered his two young sons and then killed himself in February of 2012. (Ted S. Warren, Associated Press)

Letter to Alina

A letter to Alina Powell with the same date repeats many of the same topics, while also calling his son Josh Powell a "devoted father."

"These government agencies will ultimately have to come clean," Steven Powell wrote. "There is a disproportionate number of Mormons in the FBI because that agency favors agents who are comfortable with situation ethics."

Powell, who both police and prosecutors noted in numerous documents, pictures and videos had a deep and bizarre obsession with his missing daughter-in-law Susan Cox Powell, ended the letter on an odd tangent discussing many of the woman's alleged sexual experiences, as well as expressing his dislike for her father, Chuck Cox.

In a letter dated two days later to Michael Powell, Steven wrote that Alina had told him it might be best if he didn't move back into his old house in Puyallup, Wash., when he is released from prison.

"She would prefer somewhere other than our house to live," Steven Powell wrote. His daughter's reasons were for safety, and because she didn't want the house "to be a lightning rod for media."

"Frankly, I am not anxious to go back to that house/neighborhood, either," Steven Powell wrote.

Powell also wrote to his son about how the family was struggling financially and how Alina had been making the house payments using money from his own life insurance and retirement policies, as well as credit cards to subsidize the payments. He said Alina was looking to get a job at that point.

He also made reference to a book he's apparently been writing while in prison, saying he had finished 300 pages of a book about LDS Church founder Joseph Smith.

All Washington State prison inmates must submit an "offender release plan" before they can be released early from prison because of good behavior. In that plan, inmates must provide information such as where they plan to live, work, and what treatment they will continue receiving. Powell was originally eligible for release on Thursday. But he did not have his plan submitted in time. Once a plan is approved, an inmate must wait 35 days to be released while proper notifications are made.

Washington corrections officials said Wednesday they had not yet reviewed his plan and no release date was scheduled.

Michael Powell

This week, West Valley police announced that they believe Michael Powell had "intimate involvement" in his sister-in-law's disappearance and had frequent communication with Josh Powell, who is suspected of killing his wife, through a device that encrypted their conversations. Investigators were never able to decrypt those communications.

Michael Powell, who was attending college in Minnesota, committed suicide by jumping off of a parking structure in February.

In a letter written to Alina Powell the day after the suicide, Steven Powell referenced what he called an "interrogation" by two FBI agents in July of 2012. During that time, he claimed the agents threatened to take away Michael Powell's federal funding for his doctorate program if he (Steven) didn't cooperate with them.

Powell also claimed the agents made reference to the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., and told him that Michael "is going to have a similar psychotic episode," according to the letter.

"You and I both understand the second threat against Michael as a plan to somehow assault him with psychotropic drugs," Steven Powell wrote, while noting that his son's suicide was "in reaction" to the drug.

Powell continues, saying someone must have put something in Michael Powell's food or drinks before he killed himself.

West Valley police interviewed Steven Powell in prison in August of 2012 in an attempt to get information about what happened to Susan Powell. While investigators said this week that they do not believe he had anything to do with her disappearance, they believe he has information that could help them.

Powell refused to give them any information. But investigators commented on his body language during that interview, noting that he noticeably shook 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.

Josh Powell murdered his two young sons and then killed himself in February of 2012.

In a letter to Alina Powell after Michael's suicide, Steven Powell appears to have changed his mind about returning to live in his house. In the letter, he tells Alina that he plans to live downstairs because the master suite, where he took pictures of young neighbor girls with a long lens, was then being used as a storage room.

"I will feel more comfortable if I can be around family," he wrote. "At my age I need family support more than the average person who is leaving this institution. Anyway, let's do whatever we can so that I can come home."

Powell also told Alina in the letter not to throw out the beer and wine in the house as he said he is not prohibited from having it.

In a more recent letter dated April 15, 2013, Steve Powell wrote to his daughter that he was preparing to get out of prison and move back home, but said if he wasn't allowed to do that, he may just live in his van.

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