The Susan Powell Case: The Tragic End of an Entire Family

by | Aug 17, 2023 | Celebrity News

The tragic disappearance of Susan Powell and deaths of her children, Charlie and Braden, shocked America. Though her loved ones are committed to raising awareness and preventing domestic violence, the pain of loss still follows them to this day.

The Disappearance

Susan Powell was last seen alive on Sunday, December 6th, 2009.  According to reports, her husband, Josh, made her food and, immediately after eating the food, Susan began to feel ill so she took a nap. With his wife ill, Josh evidently decided that the winter evening of a work-night was a perfect time to take his two young sons on a camping trip. For those unfamiliar with the Utah weather, it is not uncommon for the Wasatch Front to receive anywhere from five to ten inches of snow on any given day during the winter months. When the Powell children did not show up for daycare on Monday, December 7th, family members reported the entire family as missing. The Police were called and entered the Powell home, believing that the family had died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Officers found the house empty. While Josh returned with the boys after the camping trip, Susan was nowhere to be found. As of writing this blog, Susan has not been found. However, it is believed that Josh murdered her and hid the body. Though the police have searched mines, it’s still possible that she could be in a mine since it would have been very difficult for the state to gather the resources needed to extensively search every single mine. 

The Investigation

Initially, Josh was cooperative and police were only looking into him as a matter of standard procedure. However, Josh quickly became uncooperative and hired an attorney. Josh Powell took his sons out of state to visit their grandfather for the holidays. On January 6th, 2010, Josh Powell returned to Utah to pack up his belongings and begin moving his family to Washington, despite the fact his wife was still considered missing. Though we cannot say with any certainty what was going on in the police’s minds, it appears that they were hoping to gather more evidence before making an arrest. Although it’s not impossible, it is more difficult to get a conviction without a body. Therefore, the police may have been hoping to uncover Susan’s remains, assuming she is deceased, before making an arrest.

What Happened to the Powell Children?

The Powell children were scheduled to visit their father. This was a supervised visit, meaning that a third party was supposed to be present to ensure the safety of the children during the visit.

Generally speaking, the third party involved is neutral and employed by the state or another third-party organization. Parents who have a history of abusing children and/or lack the capacity to effectively parent, may also have supervised visitation instead as opposed to physical custody. In the case of the Powell children, the court found that it was unsafe for the children to remain in the home after their grandfather, Josh Powell’s father, was found to be in possession of explicit material featuring minors, and hand drawn images of similar atrocities were found on Josh’s computer.

Why Was Josh Allowed to Visit His Kids?

The fact that Josh was still in contact with his children after this gives a lot of people pause: why was this allowed? How custody arrangements are determined will depend on the specific circumstances as well as the state laws. However, in general, most judges believe that it’s in the best interests of the children to have a relationship with both parents. If the parent poses a danger to the children, or is unable to effectively parent the children for any reason, that parent may have supervised visitation or limited contact with that parent instead of standard parent-time with the child. In this case, a court may have considered the evidence and requests presented to it and found that there wasn’t enough to completely deprive Josh from contact or supervised visitation with the children.

The Deaths of the Powell Children

On February 5th, 2012, when the social worker arrived at Josh’s house with the children, Josh quickly shoved the children into the house and locked the social worker outside and refused to let her in the house. The social worker immediately called 911 and, unfortunately, the 911 dispatcher failed to take the call as seriously as he should have. The dispatcher even went as far as expressing doubt that the children’s lives were in danger, even after the social worker told him that she feared for their lives. While the caseworker was trying to get help, Josh Powell’s house exploded. The remains of Josh Powell, Braden Powell, and Charlie Powell were found inside the home, however it appears that Josh had attacked the children with a hatchet before blowing up the home.

This Is Why We Talk about Domestic Violence

Unfortunately, Susan Powell’s story highlights the importance of recognizing signs of domestic violence early on. Although there’s evidence to show that Susan was planning on leaving Josh, there’s also evidence to suggest that Josh used fear and manipulation in order to convince her to stay in the marriage. If you’re in a relationship, and you don’t feel safe, it’s important to reach out for help before the consequences are dire.