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‘Cold’ podcast team reveals new information on Josh Powell's movements in the weeks after his wife's disappearance

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SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly 10 years after the disappearance of Susan Powell, her story continues to captivate the country.

Powell disappeared from her West Valley home in December 2009 and has never been found.

In the weeks, months and years after her disappearance, police and media attention focused on her husband, Josh Powell, who said he took their children camping the night Susan Powell went missing.

Only one month after her disappearance, Josh Powell moved to Washington, where he later blew up his home, killing himself and the couple’s two young sons, Charlie and Braden.

The story was the focus of NBC’s “Dateline” episode on Friday and the center of KSL’s investigative podcast, “Cold.”

But the investigation didn’t end when the final podcast episode was released in March — this week, the “Cold” team dove deep into some intriguing evidence, never before made public.

The day after Susan Powell went missing, West Valley police hid a GPS tracker on Josh Powell’s minivan. While the effort didn’t capture the most important moves he made, like when he disappeared for 18 hours in a rental car, it did track everything after that.

The “Cold” team got that data and even almost a decade after, some of Josh Powell’s moves are still perplexing.

“It made no sense at all,” said lead investigator on the case, West Valley police detective Maxwell Ellis. “Zero.”

On December 11, 2009, just four days after Josh Powell took his boys winter camping in the West Desert, he headed west again.

The GPS tracker provides a minute-by-minute account of his movements as he drove more than 100 miles to West Wendover, Nevada.

He pulled into a grocery store parking lot, sat for 20 minutes, grabbed some fast food then headed back.

But, he made some odd stops on the way home.

“He would pull off the exits and try to clear himself,” Maxwell said.

The data shows Powell pulling off at the Clive exit, going south, flipping around, going north, flipping around again before driving to the back of a gravel pit.

He stayed in that spot for two hours, where no one could see him from the freeway.

But police had eyes in the air.

“What he didn’t know is we had an airplane in the air too,” Maxwell said. “He could avoid the cars but he couldn’t avoid the airplane.”

After the gravel pit stop, Powell went to a Grassy Mountain rest area, then left again, making two illegal U-turns on the freeway to go back to the rest area.

It’s not clear why he did that.

From there, Powell drove directly to a high-profile attorney’s office in downtown Salt Lake City.


“I believe his whole motive there was just to see if we were following him,” Maxwell explained.

It was just one of many days of odd movements in the two weeks after Susan Powell vanished.

Josh Powell also visited the bank where Susan kept her secret divorce documents in a safe deposit box. Detectives had beaten him to it and recovered her last will and testament.

He drove to a park on the east bench of Sandy for no apparent reason, as well as a West Jordan condo complex.

The tracker even confirms a story first broken on KSL — Josh Powell had visited a chiropractor 10 days after Susan Powell’s disappearance.

Documents obtained exclusively by the “Cold” team proved he was diagnosed with a suspicious rotator cuff injury there.

But in all his travels, there’s no indication from the GPS data that Josh Powell spent any of his time searching for his missing wife.

In one of his only interviews with police, Josh Powell had just a single idea for detectives on where they could find Susan Powell.

“She does go to Sally’s,” he told police in an interview.

It wasn’t much help but police followed up on it. But from what the “Cold” team can see, Josh Powell never did.

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