WEST VALLEY CITY — The father-in-law of a missing West Valley mother says her journals as a teenager show she was "sexually open" and he plans to publish those personal entries on a website.
Steve Powell said his opinion comes from reading more than 2,000 pages of journal entries written by Susan Cox-Powell, who has been missing since Dec. 6, 2009.
The diary entries were primarily written in the girl's adolescence through the age of 20.
Steve Powell told the Deseret News the journals show that Susan Cox-Powell had an "extremely troubled" adolescence and support the theory both he and his son, Josh Powell, have that the the mother of two left home with another man, specifically another missing Utahn, who disappeared around the same time as she did.
"The journal shows that Susan would have definitely done what we suspect she's done," Steve Powell said. "I don't think she was abducted. I obviously don't think she was murdered. I don't think she committed suicide."
"People don't know there are two distinct sides to Susan," Steve Powell told the "Today" show. "She was … an open person in a sexual way with the opposite sex."
"I want to make it clear that she would not leave her family," Susan Cox-Powell's father, Chuck Cox, said on the show. "She was not sexually active or promiscuous or anything. Those allegations are completely baseless."
Cox said he "cannot believe" Steve Powell would read the journals, much less make them available to the public.
"It's unconscionable he would do it," he said. "I cannot believe he would do that type of thing and then to try and publish it and use it to attack my daughter."
Cox told the Deseret News he is certain his daughter only ever imagined the volumes would be used for her own reflections or to connect with future children.
"We’ve asked to get (the journals) back," Cox said. "They should be with her parents. There's no reason her father-in-law should have them, that's for sure."
Jennifer Graves, Josh Powell's sister, called her father's appearance on "Today" another attempt to slander the missing woman.
"Why take this approach?" Graves asked. "His daughter-in-law is missing, the mother of his grandchildren. Why does he continually try and slander her and turn her into something she's not? I don't understand."
Graves she doesn't believe making the journals public will serve any purpose other than to tarnish the missing woman's name. If there were any real value in the journals, they would be turned over to police, she said.
"What kind of a person reads a teenage girl's journals and then tries to publish them for the entire world to see?"
She also cautions those who read the writings if and when they're published to "consider the source."
"Is it really going to be believable? Is it really going to be copied accurately?" Graves asked. "I doubt it."
Cox-Powell's close friend Kiirsi Hellewell also questioned Steve Powell's actions.
"I'm frankly shocked that any grown adult, especially a missing woman's father-in-law, would think that there is anything remotely right about reading a teenage girl's diary," Hellewell said. "No matter what's in there, he has no right to read them."
But Steve Powell said as soon as he read those journals, he knew he would publish them.
"We realized this would provide answers to criticism leveled at us and give Susan an indication that someone is trying to understand her," he said.
Steve Powell said his daughter-in-law was very open with the contents of her journals. "Susan let people read her journals all the time," he said. "She wanted people to understand her."
Hellewell, however, said she never saw Cox-Powell's journals.
"She never shared one page of her journal with me or any of her friends — even her parents," she said.
Dr. Liz Hale, a clinical psychologist, said she doesn't "see the connection" between what Cox-Powell may have written in her adolescent journals and her adult behavior.
"(Adolescence) is the time for identifying who you are," Hale said Thursday. "You're growing up, your brain is still developing itself and formulating all those connections. Our brains are not fully developed until we are in our mid-20s, so I think it's a terrible tactic."
Cox-Powell was last seen at her West Valley City home on Dec. 6, 2009. Josh Powell — who police say has not been cooperative in their investigation and has been named a person of interest in the case — reported last seeing his wife that evening around midnight as she headed to bed.
At that hour, he said he was taking the couple's children, then ages 2 and 4, to go winter camping in Tooele County. They slept in their minivan, Josh Powell told police. The temperature that night was well below freezing. Josh Powell and the boys returned home the next day.
West Valley Police Sgt. Mike Powell said the woman's disappearance is still classified as a missing person case. He said any new or additional information in the case would be released as it is discovered.
"It's an active investigation," he said.
Chuck Cox said he knows police are working to build a solid case and the family is trying to be patient in the meantime.
"We're confident that West Valley City police are doing everything they can and that they're on the trail and that they're gong to find out what happened," Cox said. "But it's frustrating that Steven Powell and Josh Powell continue to not cooperate with West Valley City police and choose instead to try and attack my daughter."
Steve Powell said on "Today" that his family, including Josh Powell, who relocated with the couple's two sons to their native Washington, doesn't have problems with the actions they've taken.
"We know where we stand," Steve Powell said. "We sleep well at night. We don't feel any guilt for anything that has to do with Susan's disappearance."
He said the journals will be posted within six to eight weeks on the website susanpowell.org.
Contributing: Richard Piatt