Susan Powell book coming out

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.

Possible bill to prevent another Josh Powell incident

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.

A new theory about Susan Powell’s disappearance

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.

Steve Powell guilty!

To the surprise of no one, Steve Powell, father-in-law of the missing Susan, has been found guilty of thirteen counts of voyeurism. In spite of defense attempts to create reasonable doubt, one juror said the prosecution “just presented a better case.”

Powell is scheduled to be sentenced June 15. He faces a maximum of five years in prison for each of the 14 counts.

Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said his office will seek an exceptional sentence based on the large number of convictions (14). If the judge allows that, Powell faces a sentence of up to 10 years.

It is not clear whether Powell could serve consecutive sentences for each count, which could amount to a 70 year sentence. This is his first criminal conviction.

Articles:
Steve Powell’s legal troubles may not be over
Jury finds Steven Powell guilty on all voyeurism counts
Steven Powell guilty on 14 counts of voyeurism
Susan Powell looms over Wash. voyeurism conviction
Steven Powell’s daughter defends family on website, video
Susan Powell Home Videos Show Her With Josh, Steven Powell Before Disappearance
Steve Powell Convicted of 14 Counts Voyeurism but Still Won’t Speak on Disappearance of his Daughter-in-law

More Susan Powell fallout

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.

No Body Guy’s views on the Susan Powell case

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.

Is anyone surprised at this newly released evidence?

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?

Article about Josh Powell 911 calltaker

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.

Josh Powell was cremated

According to this article, Josh’s death certificate has been released. The cause of death was given as carbon monoxide poisoning. He was cremated. That was a wise choice, as I think quite a few people would try to defecate on his gravesite if they had the chance.

More Josh Powell stuff — it gets worse and worse (lots of quotes)

It’s on the news now that Josh had 400-some images of cartoon sex and incest on his computer in Utah in 2009 — the year Susan disappeared.

Many of the approximately 400 images described in documents released under Washington state public records laws Friday included sexual depictions of popular cartoons, including child-focused characters such as Rugrats, Dennis the Menace and SpongeBob SquarePants. Another 15 images showed 3-D depictions of sex involving parents and their children.

Powell had initially told the psychologist that he visited only pornography sites featuring adults.

“Given the gaps of information about Mr. Powell there seems reason to conclude he may not presently be a stable and appropriate resource for his children,” wrote Dr. James Manley in a follow-up report dated Jan. 31.

Washington officials overseeing the care of Powell’s children first got word of the graphic content in November, when a Utah investigator wrote in an email that they were looking to disclose to social workers about 5-6 images recovered in 2009 shortly after Susan Powell’s disappearance.

But two months later, social worker Forest Jacobson wrote that the images weren’t received until mid-January and were far more extensive. Powell had full custody of his kids up until last summer, when his father was charged with voyeurism. After that, he had consistent supervised visitations with the children.

It wasn’t clear why it took so long for authorities to reveal the information.

The same article notes Josh’s antipathy towards the LDS church (verging on paranoia) and what he told his children about it:

In interviews with mental health professionals, Powell said he feared a “militant faction” of the Mormon church might kidnap his two sons. Braden and Charlie were overheard saying that “Mormons” were “trying to steal” them and “harm” them. When Charlie told his father that they were “good Mormon boys,” Powell abruptly responded that they were not Mormon and not to let anyone tell them they are.

You can read Josh’s psychological report here. The cops think the house where he visited with the children was a Potemkin village, a prop — there’s no evidence that he actually lived there; he just decorated it to make it look good and make himself look like a devoted family man. Nevertheless, social workers still were afraid that he would harm the children.

He rented a house on a cul-de-sac in the Graham area.

But those who live on the same circle said they had no idea anyone lived in the house, which had been empty for some time. People who live across the street, up the street and behind the house’s backyard said Monday they thought the place was abandoned. They had never seen Powell or the boys there.

Detectives didn’t go into detail but said they believe Powell kept living at his father’s house and created a fake home to use for supervised visits with the boys.

The cops said that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent what happened:

“If we had gotten someone there, firefighters or police officers, we’d have dead firefighters or police officers,” Wood said. “If the court had done something different and awarded custody to the grandparents, we’d have dead kids and dead grandparents.”

A commenter to that article summed it up very well in my opinion:

I knew from the time he blew up the house that, even if he had been denied custody, he would have found a way to do this very same thing wherever they had been. Had he been denied custody he would have taken the grandparents with him as well. Had it been a neutral site, bystanders would have been killed.

There was no stopping this evil except to have locked him away or killed him, and there was not enough evidence yet for the former and no legal basis for the latter.

Hindsight can always see much clearer than foresight but logic usually is forgotten then.

Josh will NOT be buried anywhere near Charlie and Braden’s grave. The two boys were buried in the same casket in Puyallup, Washington. His mother initially picked a gravesite in the same cemetery, which upset a lot of people. The local Crime Stoppers raised $20k to purchase the plots on either side of the children to keep Josh from being buried there (rather over-stepping their mandate, in my opinion). But Josh’s mom admitted her decision was “clueless” and is now looking at other options.

RIP Charlie and Braden. And Susan, too.