Nearly two months after Josh Powell blew up a house with himself and his two young sons inside, court documents are revealing the evidence police had linking him to his wife's murder, and prosecutors in Washington say it was enough to provide probable cause to arrest him.
Powell was considered a person of interest in Susan Powell's disappearance, but he was not charged. He told police in West Valley City, Utah that she vanished while he was out with their sons on a late night camping trip in the desert in December 2009. Her body has never been found.
Search warrant affidavits unsealed Friday in Pierce County, Washington in connection with an unrelated case against Josh's father detail evidence that cast suspicion on him from the start of the investigation. Among the allegations made in the affidavits:
The car: When detectives first confronted Josh Powell about his wife's disappearance on December 7, 2009, they found tarps, a shovel and Susan Powell's phone in his vehicle. He voluntarily gave them the phone, but its memory card was gone. Powell could not provide an explanation for why he had his wife's phone.
The blood: Investigators searching the home found two fans blowing air on a couch that appeared to have been recently cleaned. During a later search, Susan's blood was found on the tile floor near the sofa.
The will: In a safe deposit box at a Salt Lake City bank, police found a “last will and testament” dated June 28, 2008, in which Susan Powell wrote that she did not trust her husband and that they had been having marital problems for four years. She also wrote that if she died, “it may not be an accident, even if it looks like one.”
The suspicious comments: One friend told detectives that Powell once talked about how to kill someone without getting caught. Another said he talked about going camping in the desert near mine shafts and tunnels where you could dump a body and nobody would ever find it.
Following the release of the documents, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist told KIRO, “The case against Josh Powell for the murder of Susan Powell is one that we would have charged.”
Since the Powells were living in Utah at the time of Susan's disappearance, however, the decision to charge Josh was in the hands of authorities there. West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder defended the choices made by police, the Deseret News reported.
"It is easy for those of us who watch TV to say, 'Hey, there is plenty of evidence.' It is a different matter if you are in the legal community to have enough evidence to go in for an arrest," Winder said.
Speaking to reporters Friday, West Valley City Police Sgt. Mike Powell said, “There’s a lot of questions out there, and the questions that are specifically related to our investigation, we’re not able to address. We don’t want to compromise the current, ongoing investigation that is taking place.”
Susan's father, Chuck Cox, told the Deseret News it was “very frustrating” to learn that investigators had all of this evidence.
“He should have been arrested a long time ago,” Cox said to Fox13. “Obviously something was dropped somewhere, the judge should have never allowed the visitation.”
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