SALT LAKE CITY — Steven Powell, considered by detectives to be the last living person who may have known what happened to missing Utah woman Susan Powell, has died.
Steven Powell was the father of Josh Powell, and father-in-law of Susan Powell.
Steven Powell died of a heart attack in a Tacoma, Washington, hospital Monday, according to Pierce County Sheriff's Department Detective Ed Troyer. He said Steven Powell had been going back and forth between the hospital and prison while incarcerated and had recent heart issues.
Steven Powell's body was taken to a local funeral home.
Detectives in Washington said they wish they could have spoken to Powell before he died.
Powell was released from a Washington state prison and placed under community supervision for two years in 2017.
In August 2015, Powell was sentenced to serve five years in prison after being convicted of possession of child pornography. That charge had been dismissed at Powell's original trial but was later reinstated after an appeals court ruled the judge had erred in his decision to dismiss it.
Powell was originally convicted in 2012 of 12 counts of voyeurism for taking pictures of two young neighbor girls, ages 8 and 10.
Police believe Josh Powell was a person of interest in the death of his wife, West Valley mother Susan Powell, who went missing in 2009 and whose body has never been found.
Josh Powell killed their two young sons, 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden, and also himself in 2012 by dousing his rental home in Graham, Washington, with gasoline and setting it on fire.
The child pornography case against Steven Powell started when West Valley police searched his Puyallup, Washington, home in August 2011 while looking for clues in Susan's disappearance. Josh Powell had moved in with his father.
Police found thousands of pictures and videos of young girls taken by Steven Powell, as well as photos and videos of Susan Powell that were secretly taken, and journals outlining an obsession for Susan Powell.
Steven Powell’s estranged daughter Jennifer Graves told KSL Tuesday that she hadn’t had contact with her father since she testified against him in that case, and she believes some information about Susan’s disappearance may have died with her father.
“He’s kind of taken that stuff with him to the grave, unless he’s left physical evidence,” Graves said. “I don’t know if they’re going to find anything, but we can be hopeful.”
She said she believes that Susan is with her boys now, and she takes comfort in that.
West Valley City police say Steven Powell’s death does not change the status of the Susan Powell missing person case.
That case remains assigned to a West Valley City police detective, and while the case has "gone cold" and all leads in the case have been exhausted, investigators are ready to act on any new information that might come to light, West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku said in a statement released on Twitter.
Steven Powell had not provided any information in the past that helped investigators in the case, she said. His death does not make solving the case any more or less likely, Vainuku added.
“Our thoughts today are with the Cox family members, who have suffered extensively with the disappearance of their daughter and death of their grandchildren, as well as with the surviving members of the Powell family,” she said in the statement.
Contributing: Caitlin Burchill