I’m about halfway through If I Can’t Have You: Susan Powell, Her Mysterious Disappearance and the Murder of Her Children by Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris. And holy wow, Josh was an absolute louse. I don’t understand why Susan stayed with him as long as she did. For that matter I don’t understand why she married him.
I don’t really get why people — mostly women but men also — attach themselves to dirt bags. I’m not talking about in the sense that the person doesn’t make a lot of money, or isn’t very educated, or isn’t good looking or smart. Most people like that are perfectly decent human beings. I mean “dirt bag” in the sense that the person treats their partner badly. (They are often in trouble with the law and/or involved in drugs also.) Why would anyone want to be romantically involved with such a person? Especially Susan, who seems to have had it straight regarding so many other aspects of her life.
I don’t get it.
Josh strikes me as an “eraser.” I read a book about eraser killers, basically men who not only murder their wives but try to wipe out every memory of them. Josh didn’t act concerned after Susan’s disappearance, he published a website telling lies about her, he moved away shortly after she vanished, etc. And ultimately, he erased the biggest imprint she made: their children.
According to the Susan Cox Powell Foundation, true crime authors Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris will be “launching” their book about the Powell case on Friday at the Puyallup Public Library. The book is called If I Can’t Have You: Susan Powell, Her Mysterious Disappearance, and the Murder of Her Children. It came out a week ago.
I hadn’t heard of this book. But I’ve placed a hold for it at the library.
Steve Powell, child pornographer, voyeur, all-around creep and the father-in-law of Susan Powell, is getting released from prison this weekend:
The Washington State Department of Corrections has approved Powell’s plan to live in a privately owned residence in Tacoma, where he will be supervised by a community corrections officer who is part of a specialized sex-crime unit.
Powell will be required to wear a GPS locator for at least the first 30 days of his community supervision, the department said in a news release issued Monday. He also will be required to attend a sex-offender treatment program. Other conditions of his release include checking in at least twice a month with his community corrections officer and getting permission before leaving Pierce County. A community corrections officer also will make multiple unannounced checks on Powell each month.
And from this article:
The girls he took pictures of were awarded $1.8 million in a civil judgment that Powell didn’t contest until after the court’s ruling was final. In December, a judge ordered the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office to sell Powell’s largest non-exempt asset, his house at 18615 94th Ave. Court East in Puyallup, to start paying off his debt.
Since then, Powell, acting as his own attorney, has made several attempts to prevent his house from being sold in a series of handwritten motions… The girls’ mother, along with attorney Anne Bremner, filed documents in court earlier this month saying that Powell doesn’t present any valid arguments and has no way to pay his mortgage. Powell also has stated he does not plan on living at that address once he is released, according to court documents.
Where’s Susan? Steve may be the last person left alive who knows.
I have already written extensively about the very sad disappearance of Susan Powell and the even more infamous aftermath. Well, I just found out that Utah’s legislature has approved a bill in part because of Josh Powell’s murder/suicide of his two children, which would allow children to be taken into protective custody if their parent is a suspect in a murder:
Nothing in the bill changes the presumption of innocence, said sponsor Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross.
Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, said a child should never have to live in a home where a parent, guilty or not, is the primary suspect in a homicide because of the emotional stress it would cause.
I’m not sure this will go anywhere — it has to be voted on, and if passed into law it may be challenged in court. Nor am I sure the bill is a good idea, because sometimes it turns out a suspect was totally innocent, and this fact isn’t discovered for years, during which time an innocent person might be separated from their children to the detriment of both. Richard Ricci, who was long the prime suspect in the Elizabeth Smart case, is an example that comes to mind. Richard Jewell, the guy whom for awhile everyone was blaming for the bombing at the 1996 Olympics, is another.
The bill, if it had been in place in Washington State (and the article mentions they tried and failed to enact a version of it there) would not, in any case, have saved Charlie and Braden Powell. Those boys were ALREADY in protective custody when Josh murdered them, staying with their grandparents. In fact, it appears he killed them for precisely that reason — a sort of “if I can’t have them no one can.” It’s like how, in abusive relationships, women are most likely to be killed if they leave or try to leave the abuser than if they stay.
I think in a situation like that — where there is a suspect in a homicide but not enough evidence for charges, and that suspect happens to have minor children — it’s a no-win situation.
This from People Magazine: I had written earlier about how Michael Powell, Josh’s brother, jumped off a parking garage roof to his death almost exactly a year after Josh blew himself and his two children to smithereens. Well, now the cops have a theory that Michael (rather than Steve, Josh’s pervert father) was an accomplice after the fact to Susan‘s presumed murder and it was he who buried her body.
Police began seeing clues to Michael Powell’s involvement fairly early in the case, says Anne Bremner, a high-profile Seattle attorney. Bremner represents Susan’s family as well as the victims in Steve Powell’s voyeurism case. She also has participated in many discussions between police and the Cox family.
Bremner says police learned after Susan disappeared that “Michael had his Ford Taurus towed a hundred miles, and then sold it for salvage value because, police think, he had her body in there. Then he hired militaristic satellite photography people to go look at the wrecking yard to see if his car had been completely destroyed, but it wasn’t.”
She adds, “Cadaver dogs came to the tow yard and only indicated on his car, no one else’s.”
More recently, Bremner says, Utah police repeatedly questioned Michael Powell in Minneapolis. Then, three months ago, Michael Powell jumped from the fifth story of a parking structure, taking his own life. He was 30.
I hope this latest theory leads to something. Susan’s body, preferably.
I’ve written about Susan Powell‘s husband and in-laws so many times that they have their own category on this blog. And here’s one more: over a month ago Josh Powell’s brother, Michael, committed suicide by jumping off the seven-story apartment building in Minnesota where he lived. This less than a week after the anniversary of Josh, Charlie and Braden Powell’s deaths.
So, a reckoning:
1. Susan Powell is missing and presumed dead.
2. Her husband Josh committed murder-suicide last year.
3. Josh killed their two young sons, Charlie and Braden.
4. Josh’s father Steve Powell is in prison for child porn.
5. And now Michael’s jumped off the roof.
And then there were three. The surviving siblings are Alina, John and Jennifer.
Josh had listed his brother Michael and his sisters Alina and John as the beneficiaries for his, Charlie’s and Braden’s life insurance policies, which totaled at least $1.5 million and possibly as much as $2 million. Michael was to get 93% of the money, Alina 4% and John 3%. (Jennifer is estranged from the rest of the family and got promised nothing.) Michael had been bickering with Susan’s parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, over the insurance money. Basically, they argued that since Josh murdered his two children and killed himself, he shouldn’t have the privilege of deciding who gets the resulting insurance payouts. They were also fighting over who should have control of Susan’s estate, which includes $1 million in life insurance. The insurance company refused to pay anybody until a judge decided who should get the money. This legal battle was still ongoing at the time of Michael’s death.
Michael was 30 years old when he died. How much he was a victim of events he could not control, and how much he contributed to all the problems, I don’t know. But in the Epic Rap Battles of History’s Sarah Palin vs. Lady Gaga vid, Lady Gaga says, “You are the sum of everything I despise / With the most dysfunctional family since the Jackson F*cking Five.” That kind of sums up my feelings about Josh Powell and the rest of that lot.
Found this HuffPo article about emails Susan Powell sent to her family, friends and members of her church before her disappearance. She talked about how controlling and moody Josh had gotten, and how she was afraid of him, and asked for relationship advice. She said he had changed since she married him and she thought he needed both counseling and medication, and spoke of leaving him:
I know everyone else will support me in whatever decisions, even if that means I crash anyone’s house in the middle of the night with my boys in tow. (Hope that never happens)
But at that point she believed the marriage was still salvageable:
I’m sure if he fixes himself, everyone else will see a much closer version of the guy I married. And it will be easy enough to forget the hell and turmoil he’s put me through.
I suppose the people that got those emails are now beating themselves up for not begging her to leave him earlier. But I think Susan’s friends and family did the best they could for her. The problem was, Susan was a grown woman and no one could force her to leave her husband, and Josh was just too evil and too manipulative. If he was bipolar or whatever, meds would have helped, but all the counseling and medication in the world cannot fix a psychopath.
I thought I’d show y’all this blog post written by Tad DiBiase, who’s prosecuted several murder-without-a-body cases and has an excellent website devoted to the subject. He thinks it would have been relatively easy to make a case against Josh Powell for Susan‘s murder.
There have been many cases successfully prosecuted with less evidence than this. While I am typically loathe to criticize without knowing all the facts, in this day and age, this reluctance to arrest simply because there isn’t a body is foolish, timid and here, ultimately deadly as Powell’s children might still be alive if Josh had been arrested when this evidence was uncovered. Sad.
There’s more at the link.
I think he’s right. But of course, Monday morning quarterbacking is easy to do. We can only speculate what might have been.
The world’s a-buzz about the blood found in Susan Powell‘s home. Oh, and the “last will and testament” she left, saying if she appeared to have died in an accident, to look closer because it probably wasn’t one. And the fact that her son was, only weeks after her disappearance, saying “My mom’s dead.”
I found this blistering editorial from a prosecutor basically saying she would have prosecuted long ago, and she had been saying that for ages, and the investigators in the Powell case were too scared to make a move. And now an entire family is dead.
Now, for the multi-million dollar question: Who or what agency is accountable for clearly botching the investigation and indirectly causing the murders of two innocent children? What will be learned from this case that has played out in the national media since 2009? At the very least, training of our nation’s police investigators must be held to a higher standard, they must be brought up to date on all of the latest technological tools and practices to properly equip themselves to handle investigations of intimate partner violence cases.
The next victim is in her home living in fear, about to be reported missing and ultimately murdered.
Well said. Certainly we should at least use this series of tragedies as a learning experience.
I hear about people like Josh and Susan and feel very lucky I have Michael. Someone who would never hurt me, who would fight to the death to defend me. Because abusive relationships are so common; probably more women have had an abusive partner at some time than not. You never know what goes on inside the walls of people’s homes.
It’s manifestly too late to prosecute Josh Powell for his crimes. But it’s not too late to find Susan and bring her to rest next to her children. It’s not too late to stop the next spousal murder from happening.
Where are you, Susan?
I found this article about the dispatcher who took the social worker’s 911 call after Josh Powell locked her out of the house. (I wrote about the call earlier, and linked to a tape of it.)
There is no doubt that the dispatcher, who’s been working at the call center since 1993, screwed up badly in this case. He admits it himself. But he had a good record and had gotten commendations and such for his work. He even won the Crowning Achievement Superior Service Award last year and was called “shining example of a compassionate, knowledgeable 9-1-1 call taker.” Nevertheless he’s (understandably) being crucified all over the internet and presumably on the streets of Pierce County, Washington.
There’s a comment on the article that sums up the situation very nicely in my opinion, and merits quoting in full:
We should not judge him – he is judging himself quite well without our help. We cannot say that, had he realized what the social worker herself did not quite realize in the first moments, those two children would be alive. It is doubtful they could of been saved by anyone once that front door slammed. We have only one person to blame in this ugly mess and that is Josh Powell. Direct your anger at him alone and leave this poor 911 dispatcher alone for he will carry that horrid conversation in his head for the rest of his life.
I think a lot of people are focusing their rage on the dispatcher because their real target, Josh Powell, is out of reach of all of us.