Prosecutor: I would have charged Josh Powell with murder in wife's case

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Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Friday that, based on newly disclosed information, he would have charged Josh Powell with murder in the 2009 disappearance of his wife, Susan Cox Powell, if the case had happened in Pierce County.

On Feb. 5, Powell, during a regularly scheduled supervised visitation with his sons Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5, killed his sons and himself in a rental home in Graham. He was also a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife in Utah in 2009.

A search warrant ordered unsealed Friday showed that police in West Valley City, Utah, had found Susan Powell's blood on floor tile near a couch in their Utah home the day after she was reported missing in December 2009.

Police said there were also a wet spot on the floor there that Josh Powell said was nothing more than red juice spilled by one of their sons.

The document also notes that authorities in Utah did a search of a bank safe deposit box and found a handwritten letter by Susan Powell in 2008 in which she said she "did not trust her husband and that he has threatened to destroy her if they get divorced and her children will not have a mother and father." Utah authorities said it went on to say that if she were to die, "it may not be an accident, even if it looks like one."

Lindquist, the chief prosecutor in Washington's Pierce County, said in a statement, "Based on the facts we now know, we would have charged Josh Powell with Susan Powell’s murder if it occurred in Pierce County, but it didn’t.

"Washington law allows prosecutors to file murder charges without a body. I don’t know the law in Utah, and I don’t know what facts the Utah District Attorney had, and therefore I can’t speak to any decisions made in Utah by the DA or law enforcement.

"Pierce County is only responsible for the charges against Steven Powell,” Josh Powell's father, Lindquist said.

In Utah, Lohra Miller, who was the Salt Lake County district attorney at the time of Susan's disappearance, told the Salt Lake Tribune she knew of the evidence disclosed Friday and never believed it was enough to charge Josh Powell with a crime as it “would not rise to a level of reasonable doubt to convict a person.”

West Valley City, Utah, Police Chief Buzz Nielsen said at a news conference Friday that his department could not comment because the search for Susan Powell continues.  “My department is committed to finding Susan and figuring out what happened to her,” he said.

Denise Cox, sister of Susan Powell, wrote on her Facebook page, “I am so upset now with the West Valley police … they should have to answer to Charlie, (Braden) and Susan’s deaths.”

The new information became public Friday because Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper ordered search warrants of Steven Powell's home unsealed.

Police, at the behest of Utah authorities, had searched Steven Powell's home in 2011, because Josh Powell was living there and was a person of interest in his wife's disappearance. Steven's defense lawyers had requested the search warrants be unsealed, as they maintain they were too broad.

After the search, Steven Powell, 61, was charged with 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of child pornography for images found on computers and other devices.

"Some of the images (seized) were of two girls who were as young as eight and 10 years old at the time of the recording. The girls are unclothed and taking a bath, using the toilet, and getting dressed or undressed. In many of the images the photographer zooms in on the girls’ breasts, buttocks, and genital areas.

"Investigation determined that the victims lived next door to Steven Powell from June 2006 to August 2007. Steven Powell’s bedroom window faced the side of the victims’ residence and the line of sight matches the camera angle seen in the videos," the prosecutor's statement said.




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