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Susan Cox Powell

A 28 year old mother disappears while father takes children on a strange camping trip

  • Last updated: December 11, 2023
  • West Valley City, UT
  • December 6, 2009

Overview of Susan Cox Powell

Susan Cox Powell is a 28 year old mother of two living in West Valley City, Utah, at the time of her disappearance. She is remembered as being an outgoing, friendly person who loved supporting other people and making them feel "pretty."

On the morning of December 6, 2009, Charlie and Braden Powell had not been dropped off at daycare. Susan and Joshua Powell did not come into work, and worried relatives could not reach either Susan or Joshua. The whole family was soon reported missing. Joshua's mother, sister, and police officers - worried that they had died of carbon monoxide poisoning - found no one at the house. Around 5pm, Joshua, Charlie, and Braden returned home from a camping trip. Joshua reported that he left Susan sleeping at home when he took the kids to go camping around midnight. When investigators searched the area where Joshua had said they had camped at, they found no trace of a campsite, and noted that there had been blizzard-like conditions during the time Joshua had said they were camping.

On December 9th, investigators noticed traces of Susan's blood on the floor of the house. They also noted that Susan's life insurance had been raised to $1.5 million, and found a handwritten letter in Susan's will describing her fear for her life and saying if she died, it may not have been an accident.

When police interviewed the older son, Charlie, he mentioned that Susan had come along with them on their camping trip but had not returned. He is also reported to have told a teacher that his mother was dead.

In January 2010, Joshua moved to Puyallup, Washington, with the two children to live with his father, Steven. On September 22, 2011, Steven Powell was arrested on charges of voyeurism and child pornography. Steven had videos of numerous women, including Susan, with whom he had been infatuated with. After Susan and Joshua had married, they lived with Steven, who would follow Susan around and take things such as her underwear. Steven professed his love for Susan and was rejected, and Susan and Joshua moved to Utah soon afterwards. Chuck Cox, Susan's father, was then given temporary custody of Charlie and Braden.

On February 5, 2012, a social worker brought Charlie and Braden Powell to Joshua for one of his weekly supervised visits. As they reached the door, Joshua grabbed the two boys, pulled them inside the house, and locked the social worker outside. The social worker called her supervisor to inform them what had happened and that she smelled gasoline. Soon after, the house burst into flame. The social worker was unharmed, but Joshua and the two boys had died. The official cause of death was reported to be carbon monoxide poisoning, although a hatchet found near Joshua's body caused extensive injuries to the heads and necks of the two boys. A short investigation declared the explosion to have been deliberately set by Joshua, and was declared a double murder-suicide.

Almost a year after, in February 2013, Joshua's brother Michael committed suicide by jumping off of a garage building. Utah police have stated that they believe Michael to have been an accomplice in the disappearance of Susan.

In February 2022, Chuck Cox joined a team travelling to Utah's West Desert to search an abandoned mine after receiving a potential tip that Susan may have been in the area. During the search, some scraps of clothing and bones were found. The bones were sent to a forensic lab and were determined to be non-human, and the pants that were found had male DNA. Investigators are searching for the identity of the man. A sock and a piece of a blouse-like material were also found, but have not been tested.

At the time of her disappearance on December 6, 2009, Susan was a 28 year old woman with brown hair and blue eyes, standing around 5'4" and weighing around 130 lbs. If you have any information about the 2009 disappearance of Susan Cox Powell, please contact the West Valley City Police Department at 801-840-4000.


  1. Date Missing:December 6, 2009
  2. Birthday:October 16, 1981
  3. Current Age:42
  4. Age at Incident:28
  5. NAMUS Number:MP4890
  6. Race:Caucasian / White
  7. Gender:Female
  8. Height:5'4"
  9. Weight:130 lbs
  10. Hair Color:Brown

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