When Susan Powell, a 28-year-old married mother of two, went missing in December 2009, many people became suspicious of her husband, Josh Powell. Josh told investigators he left his wife at their Utah home to take his young sons camping in the middle of the night. While searching for clues to solve the case, the officers involved in the Susan Powell investigation unearthed a number of dark secrets about Joshua Powell and his father Steven, including infidelity, child pornography, voyeurism, and twisted obsessions.
Over the course of many years, several people - including members of law enforcement and the missing woman's family - have developed theories about the disappearance of Susan Powell, but to this day no one is certain exactly what happened to the young mother. However, when someone close to Susan committed suicide years after she vanished - taking two innocent lives with them in a fiery explosion - many people became convinced once and for all that Susan Powell had been harmed by someone who should have loved and protected her.
In August 2011, nearly two years after Susan Powell went missing, members of Washington law enforcement searched the Puyallup home Josh lived in with his father and two young sons. Officers removed a number of items from the house, including photographs, videos, and computer equipment. After reviewing these items, police arrested Steven on September 22, 2011, charging him with 14 counts of voyeurism and possession of child pornography.
In 2012, Steven was convicted of voyeurism for taking photographs of two girls through a bathroom window in a neighboring house, but the child pornography charges - which stemmed from pictures Steven had taken of two girls, aged 8 and 10, without their knowledge, as they were showering in the bathroom - were dismissed by the judge.
In December 2009, 28-year-old Susan Powell, her husband Joshua, and the couple's young sons Charlie and Braden were reported missing when Susan didn't show up for her job at Wells Fargo Financial and her children never arrived at daycare. Hours after the family's sudden disappearance was reported to law enforcement, Joshua, along with his sons, returned to the West Valley, Utah, home he shared with Susan.
When the authorities questioned Joshua about his wife's whereabouts, he said he took his sons Charlie, 4, and Braden, 2, camping just after midnight that same day - leaving his wife alive and well behind in their home - and he had no idea where Susan was. However, Joshua's story didn't make any sense to police, largely because it seemed unusual for someone to take two young children camping in the middle of the night, but also because of the storm that had blanketed the area with snow.
Detectives were also suspicious because when they questioned Joshua about his wife's sudden disappearance, he didn't seemed concerned about what had happened to his spouse and the mother of his children and exhibited odd behavior.
Before Joshua Powell and his sons returned home from their camping trip on the evening of December 7, 2009, police entered the home around 10 AM to check on the family's welfare. Once inside the house, investigators noticed a section of the carpet was wet, and someone had set up two fans in an effort to dry the damp area.
Officials also found blood, which they later determined to be from Susan Powell, on the tile floor; near the spot of blood was a sofa, which investigators concluded had been recently cleaned. Given Susan's disappearance, signs someone had cleaned blood off of the floor and furniture, and Joshua's bizarre story about an impromptu camping trip, authorities began to suspect the young wife and mother may have been the victim of foul play perpetrated by her husband.
Investigators learned Susan Powell had multiple life insurance policies worth a total of $1.5 million, giving Joshua Powell - who had filed for bankruptcy in 2007 - plenty of incentive to harm his wife. Officers also discovered that Susan had hand-written a will and stored the document in a safety deposit box. In the will, Susan said she and her husband - whom she had married in 2001 - had been having marital problems for years, and she wrote that if she were to die, "it may not be an accident, even if it looks like one."
In addition to the secret will, investigators also found a video Susan had made in 2008, in which she recorded her family's home and belongings just in case something happened to her or family.