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WEST VALLEY CITY — Susan Powell was growing increasingly distrustful and frustrated with her husband a year before she disappeared and told friends she wanted him to take medication and go to counseling.
She also told friends in June of 2008 — a year and a half before she disappeared — that she had written a will and left it in her desk at work.
In the weeks following Susan Powell's disappearance in December of 2009, the Deseret News was given copies of emails Powell sent to friends using her work email address at Wells Fargo. The emails talked about her struggles being married to Josh Powell when they lived at their West Valley City home.
Copies of the emails were provided in December of 2009 on the condition that they be used to ask specific questions to police and to show that Josh Powell should be looked at as a suspect. The emails were reported in a Deseret News story, but excerpts were not quoted directly at the time through an agreement with the provider.
Susan Powell's own words describe what was going on with her marriage to Josh at the time. The correspondences were sent between June and October of 2008.
A common theme in several emails sent by Susan Powell were mental health issues she believed her husband was struggling with and her strong desire that both of them receive counseling. She also talked about divorce, the "hell and turmoil" that Josh Powell had been putting her through, and hinted that she feared what her husband might do.
In an email dated July 18, 2008, Powell talks about "setting up phone consultations with divorce lawyers" and mentions her friends who have had experience dealing with "mental illness/bipolar with family members."
My bottom line/breaking point is HE WILL GO TO COUNSELING FOR HIMSELF AND/OR MEDS to deal with his mental issues and if he refuses I will not ruin mine and my boys' lives further and we will divorce and I hope its not as ugly as he claims it will be when we've talked about it in the past.
–Susan Powell email
"It seems that overall, if someone is bipolar, you don't want them to feel boxed into a corner or threatened or stressed (or else they'll 'swing manic' etc.)," Susan Powell wrote.
A week earlier, in an email dated July 11, 2008, Powell wrote to a friend: "My bottom line/breaking point is HE WILL GO TO COUNSELING FOR HIMSELF AND/OR MEDS to deal with his mental issues and if he refuses I will not ruin mine and my boys' lives further and we will divorce and I hope its not as ugly as he claims it will be when we've talked about it in the past."
She ended the letter by writing, "I want him in counseling, on meds, I want my husband, friend, lover BACK no more crazy, outrageous, outlandish beliefs/opinions."
Powell followed that email with one on July 28, 2008, in which she wrote, "My bottom line is he WILL DO COUNSELING at least. I expect by our anniversary next april (8yrs) we will both be in counseling and FINALLY FIXING the marriage OR somewhere in mediation/divorce court ... sad, but simple as that."
In the July 18 email, she also added, "I recognize now that me praying or reading scriptures and hoping is not going to cut it anymore. That I need help and so does he."
Powell also wrote in the email that it wouldn't be easy, but she hoped Josh would be able to return to the way he was when they were first married. "I think if he gets help that we can be happily married with regular trials like normal people," she wrote, while also noting that she still loved and cared about him.
But she followed that sentence by noting, "I'm still documenting all of our belongings and saving info at work or at friend's house in case this is short lived."
Susan Powell's frustrations with Josh Powell seemed to grow with each email in June and July of 2008.
In an email dated June 30, 2008, Powell tells her friend about an hour-long verbal argument she had with Josh, noting, "I even had to threaten calling police b/c he was being so irrational and unpredictable."
She also mentioned in the same email that she had "written a sort of will in my desk b/c at this point, I don't know what to think anymore."
In an email dated July 5, 2008, Powell writes, "Josh doesn't seem to take responsibility for anything."
I don't want to divorce or separate or take the kids somewhere and he views it as an act of war if I cut off my paycheck to the joint credit union. My current tactic is to pretty much not make waves and try to ignore the problems.
–Susan Powell email
Six days later, said she was seeking counseling for "depression and stress" that had built up over the past three years of marriage.
In an email dated July 14, 2008, Susan Powell wrote: "Josh has mental issues and/or has lost touch with reality=I'm a stressed, overworked, neglected/abused single mother down to her last straw."
On July 7, 2008, Powell sent an email to a friend saying she felt better about letting the friend know what was going on, hinting that she was afraid of Josh.
"I don't know how you can help except talk with me and be another individual that would know about the situation if questioned b/c things went crazy later. Sad that I'm this paranoid," she wrote.
Powell followed that email with one on July 26, 2008, in which she continued talking about videotaping her possessions "so they can take it off the hard drive digital video camera-just in case."
She also says she was no longer pressuring her husband to go to church with her and wondered if Josh was serious about fixing their marriage or if he didn't believe the problems between them were that bad.
"I don't want to divorce or separate or take the kids somewhere and he views it as an act of war if I cut off my paycheck to the joint credit union," she wrote. "My current tactic is to pretty much not make waves and try to ignore the problems."
On July 11, Susan Powell added, "I don't know why he'd think the marriage is worth staying in, I doubt only myself going to counseling would fix 'all the problems.'"
By Oct. 31, 2008, Powell told her friend that her parents were ready to help pay for a divorce lawyer. In the email she sad she believed a divorce wouldn't be as bad as she feared, "like him kidnapping the kids and taking me for broke."
Susan Powell was last seen on Dec. 6, 2009. Around midnight, Josh Powell claimed he went camping with his two young sons on a snowy night in a remote area of Tooele County. Susan Powell was reported missing the next day.
In February, Josh Powell killed his two young sons and himself in an inferno at his rental home in Graham, Wash., just days after a judge informed him that his in-laws would continue to have custody of the children for the next several months.