In 2012, tragedy of Susan Powell case intensified with sons' murders

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WEST VALLEY CITY — The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Susan Powell took a horrifying turn early this year when her husband killed himself and the two boys.

On Feb. 5, Josh Powell did the unthinkable: he took a hatchet to his boys and then set his home on fire, causing an inferno that took their lives.

"I was just there," said Elizabeth Griffin-Hall, the social worker for the Powell custody case. "He blew up the house and the kids."

Griffin-Hall had just brought 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden to the Graham, Wash., home for a supervised visit.

"He slammed the door," Griffin-Hall said. "Then I called 911."

Powell didn't leave behind any answers about his wife Susan's 2009 disappearance. But the investigation continued, shifting the focus to Powell's father.

In our justice system, it seems like the rights of the criminals are higher than the rights of the victims.

–Chuck Cox, Susan's father

Steven Powell, whose diaries revealed he had a bizarre obsession with Susan, is a person of interest in the case. In June, a jury in Washington state convicted Steven of voyeurism for taking pictures of two neighbor girls.

Susan's family was hoping new information about Susan's disappearance would surface during the trial.

"In our justice system, it seems like the rights of the criminals are higher than the rights of the victims," said Chuck Cox, Susan's father.

Steven's daughter, Alina, who showed up in court to support him, defended her father's silence.

"I think, in this case, there's nothing to say, nothing you can say, because it's been too politicized and publicized," Alina Powell said.

Steven, who was sentenced to 30 months behind bars, could be released as early as May 2013. Susan's family still believes he knows something about her disappearance.

But Utah authorities only recently intensified their focus on Steven. Records obtained by the Associated Press show West Valley City Police looked at Steven's phone records earlier this year.

Clearly, there should have been security and supervision at a minimum.

–Anne Bremner, Cox family attorney

As the Cox family hopes for answers, the legal battles aren't over. Chuck and Judy Cox say they'll fight to make sure Josh's siblings don't get any of Josh's life insurance policy. They also have a civil case against Washington Child Protective Services.

"Clearly, there should have been security and supervision at a minimum," said Anne Bremner, Cox family attorney.

While the search for Susan also continues, on the third anniversary of her disappearance, West Valley Police announced they have scaled down their efforts and reduced the number of full-time detectives on the case.

There is still a $10,000 reward for information on where she is.


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