Everything You Need To Know About the Susan Powell Case

The KSL podcast, "Cold", is bringing renewed interest in the Susan Powell case, and rightfully so. 10 years ago, Susan and Josh Powell, as well as their two young sons, went missing one cold December night. Josh and the boys returned from an alleged camping trip, but Susan never returned. It is clear to just about anyone that Josh Powell murdered his wife. Here are the essentials about the case.

1. Josh and Susan had a bad relationship. The distribution of labor in the household was far from equal, as Susan was often the only one able to maintain a steady job, and was also the one left to complete household chores. Josh kept strict guard on the finances, and would become furious with Susan for spending more than the bare minimum on groceries, while he had a habit of buying toys for himself, like fancy cameras. Susan would often bike to work down a busy and dangerous West Valley street, while Josh kept their minivan for his commute. Josh and Susan also married while Josh was an active member of the LDS church, but throughout the course of the marriage he left the church and would often berate Susan for her belief in it. They fought constantly.

2. Susan knew she was in trouble. She told multiple work friends that if anything happened to her, it was Josh’s doing. He took out a large life insurance policy on her, which raised several red flags for her. Like just the biggest red flag. Like this red flag covered the Salt Lake valley. She kept a drawer at her workplace with a written explanation of her situation, and made it abundantly clear that if anything happened to her, it was Josh’s doing. Because that's how healthy marriages work. We've all got our hidden drawer at work that we tell our coworkers about so if anything happens to us they can say it was totally our husband. 

3. Josh did not cooperate with the investigation at all. The night he went missing, when him and Susan both did not show up for work, it was their daycare that raised alarms when the boys did not show up. After a long December morning, Josh was heard from, and he claimed his phone was dead while him and the boys were returning from a camping trip (in a blizzard), and were now heading back (it was December. Ya’ll. Camping in December) and that he just forgot that he had work the next day (you know, like you do), and he was so embarrassed. He then derailed the efforts by the police to get in touch with him by not showing up at his house for several hours. When his sister got ahold of him, he insisted he needed to get food for the boys before returning home. At no point did he show concern for his missing wife. He was more stressed that police had broken a window in his home trying to see if his family was inside. He was then useless in police interrogation, giving circular nonsense hours and talking more about his abilities to save money on food for his family than he talked about his missing wife.

4. Josh Powell’s dad was a total creep. His dad, Steven Powell was obsessed with Susan and convinced she was in love with him because one time she asked him for a foot massage. I’m not kidding. He once, while she was receiving a ride from him, told her he was in love with her. She was like “Jesus, dude. Really?” (okay, she didn’t say that, but that was the vibe) and turned him down. Afterwards, he became convinced this wasn’t true and she was totally in love with him. When Susan told Josh about this, Josh sided with his father and believed that his wife was trying to seduce his father, rather than believing that his father was a gross creep. Oh, Steven Powell also had child porn on his computer. He was charged for that and voyeurism because he took pictures of the young girls living next door to him. Because honestly, why not. Why not have EVERYTHING about this situation be TERRIBLE.

5. Josh’s sons told someone at church that their mom was dead. When Josh’s sons were attending primary lessons at an LDS church in Washington after Josh ran away relocated in his and Susan’s home state, Josh’s sons were acting up and behaving poorly. A primary leader said to the boys “if you don’t stop misbehaving, I’ll have to tell your mom and dad” (also paraphrased) and the boy said “My mommy is dead.” SO LIKE. COOL.

6. Josh murdered his children and himself to avoid being charged with Susan's death. This is a time jump, but it’s how the case ended up. After several dead ends and useless leads, Josh was never put in jail for obviously murdering his wife. His boys were growing up, and starting to mention things about the fact that they went “camping” with both parents and returned with only their father. While having the boys visit him for supervised visit with a social worker, Josh pulled both boys in his home and shut the door on the social worker. She called 911 to the worst 911 responder (if you listen to that, your blood will boil. Fair warning) and then the house exploded. The boys also had hatchet wounds in their skulls. He had reportedly given their toys away to a nearby Goodwill before the murder-suicide. 

This is only the briefest summary of events. To learn more, like all the other infuriating, horrifying, heart-wrenching details, please give the Cold podcast by KSL a listen, available on all major podcast platforms.