Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Cox’

The events of this day (just like the day Susan was first reported missing, on December 7, 2009) will forever be burned into my mind.

I returned home from church at about 2:20pm (Mountain time) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Right after walking in the door, my phone rang. I saw that it was ABC-4, one of Salt Lake City’s local TV news stations.

I sighed as I thought, “What now?” I figured there must be some sort of news.

I had no idea just how devastating this news would be.

The person on the phone told me they were sorry to be the one to tell me this if I didn’t know, but they had just received reports of an explosion at Josh Powell’s house.

I was confused. “What do you mean? An actual explosion, or a verbal explosion?” I was thinking they were referring to some sort of yelling match.  I also asked if it was at Steve Powell’s house, or Josh’s rental house.

They answered, “The rental house. An actual explosion. And it was during Josh’s visitation time—there are reports that the bodies of two children were found.”

Time seemed to stop. I screamed, “NO!!! NO, no, no!!” My family came running down the stairs and gathered around me. They thought I’d just received news of a car accident—I had a sister and her family who were driving across the country that day, to the West Coast.

The ABC-4 person was saying something, but I interrupted them and gasped out “I’m sorry, I can’t talk right now.” I hung up and dialed Chuck Cox, with trembling fingers.

He answered right away. I was crying so hard I could hardly talk. I said, without preamble, “Is it true?? A news station just called me. Is it true??”

He said, “I don’t know. I’m on my way there right now. I’ll call you back as soon as I know.”

The next thing I had to do was make two of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever had to make in my life. The first one was to Jennifer Graves, and the next one was to Debbie Caldwell.

Jennifer is Josh’s sister, and had plans to adopt Charlie and Braden. She already loved and knew them as her nephews, and thought of them as her future sons. She had been through two years of hell, along with the Coxes and myself and others who knew and loved Susan, and courageously stood up for Susan even when Josh, Steve, and their other siblings in Washington publicly “disowned” and defamed her.

Debbie was Charlie and Braden’s daycare provider before Susan disappeared (she’s also the one who raised the alarm that Susan, Josh, and the boys were missing when the boys didn’t show up to daycare on December 7, 2009). Susan’s boys spent 12 hours a day with her, three days each week, and thought of her as their Nana. She loved them like her own grandchildren. She worried about and grieved for them every day they were in Washington, and called CPS right after Josh moved them there in 2009 to beg CPS to do a child welfare check.

I did not want to be the one to tell either of these amazing women, who have become two of my closest friends. But I would rather they heard it from me than hear the news from a stranger (no offense to any media person reading this).

I won’t infringe on their privacy by reporting their reactions, but I’m sure you can imagine how they felt.

I was praying and crying and pacing nervously while waiting for Chuck to call me back. The phone rang a few minutes later. “It’s true,” he said heavily. “I’ve just been there and talked to the sheriff. Josh blew up the house and they’ve found three bodies inside.”

I was crying so hard I couldn’t talk. Chuck said, “I wish there was something I could say to help.” Even in my grief, I was amazed…these were his grandchildren, and he was trying to think of something he could say or do to comfort me.

He told me he was still in crisis mode and hadn’t had a chance to process. I felt the same.

Throughout the afternoon, friends and church members stopped by. We hugged and cried, not saying much. News trucks descended in force. The media were all very kind. I know this tragedy affected those reporters, too—many of them have covered this case in every detail since Susan disappeared.

That evening, I found out a few minutes before it started that some total strangers had planned a candlelight vigil in the parking lot of an elementary school. I packed up my family and we went there to meet a group of about 30 or so people, none of whom had any connection to Susan but who just wanted to show their love and support. They were so wonderful to do such a kind thing to help us grieve together over Charlie and Braden’s loss.

Some of the huge amounts of news coverage from that terrible day:


KING-5, Seattle

CBS News

Huffington Post


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On Wednesday, September 28, a judge granted temporary custody of Susan’s two young boys to Chuck and Judy Cox.  They will remain with the Coxes until the next hearing, set for November 15.

Josh Powell was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation along with a parental assessment.  He is allowed a 3-hour visit with the boys each Sunday, supervised by the state.

Articles about the custody decision here:

Salt Lake Tribune

KOMO News article about Steve Powell’s divorce many years ago, and the child porn investigation that played a factor in Josh losing custody of the boys

KSL-TV video and article

Video from Seattle’s Q FOX 13

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On Thursday, September 22, Steve Powell, Josh Powell’s father, was arrested and charged with 14 counts of voyeurism and 1 count of child pornography. 

At the same time, police took Susan’s two little boys, Charlie and Braden, into protective custody

Friday morning Susan’s parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, went before a judge to request custody of their 2 grandsons.  Josh Powell has not allowed Susan’s parents to see their grandsons in over a year and a half.

Another hearing was set for this coming Wednesday.  The boys remain in protective custody at least until then.

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The West Valley City Police Department, along with help and volunteers from eight other Utah counties, spent 12 days searching  Utah’s remote desert areas around Topaz Mountain near Delta, Utah.  The search officially began on Tuesday, September 13.

On Wednesday (day 2) they discovered an area that appeared to be some type of “shallow grave.”  11 cadaver dogs “hit” on this area, indicating that some type of human remains was buried there.

Police brought in an anthropologist to see if the area was an old burial site—possibly a pioneer, or maybe Native American.  The anthropologist said the site was more recent: probably anywhere from the past 2 months to 10 years.

Police began excavating the site, with a forensics team carefully sifting through each shovelful of dirt for any type of suspicious matter.  By late Saturday afternoon, they discovered what the dogs were interested in: approximately 100 pieces of charred wood ranging in size from dimes to golf balls.  This wood was buried about 2 1/2 feet below the surface.  The wood pieces were sent to a forensic lab for analysis.

Chuck Cox, Susan’s father, arrived on Thursday, day 3 of the search, to see the area for himself and to support police in their efforts.  He flew back on Wednesday morning, September 21, to prepare for a court hearing.

The search continued on Sunday with help from 5 Utah counties…personnel and search and rescue (SAR) teams on foot, ATV, horseback, plane and helicopter scoured the desert in specific grid patterns, looking for any sign of Susan Cox Powell. 

Monday morning three more counties joined the search

The search officially ended on Friday, September 23.  Police found various items of clothing, which were photographed and sent to labs for analysis.  They said the search was “successful” and “accomplished what [they] set out to do.” 

Susan’s family and friends want the West Valley Police Department, the SAR personnel, the volunteers, the horseback riders, the pilots, the cadaver dogs and their handlers and everyone who was involved in this search to know how deeply grateful we all are for their determination to find Susan.  We have full confidence that the WVPD will find Susan, solve this case, and bring us the answers we so desperately need.

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Chuck Cox was on the Dori Monson radio show today in Seattle.  Click here to read the article and listen to the radio interview.

Dori Monson makes an excellent point: if Josh and Steve Powell are completely innocent in Susan’s disappearance, what reason would they have for trying to trash Susan and her character? 

Good question.

Here’s two radio shows Dori did last week about Susan’s case: first one here with an interview with Steve Powell; second one here with an interview from Kiirsi Hellewell.

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Yesterday Susan’s friends and family in West Valley City, Utah and Puyallup, Washington held a “Honk and Wave” campaign to bring more public awareness to Susan and her case.

In Utah, the event went off without a hitch.  Volunteers braved wind, rain, scorching heat, and sunburn to hold signs, smile and wave at thousands of people who drove by, honked, gave “thumb’s up” and shouted things like “We hope you find her!” and “Our prayers are with you!”

honk and wave

In Puyallup, Washington, the event did not run as smoothly.  Chuck and Judy Cox and various relatives and supporters went to their planned location in front of a busy store to hold their signs.  Steve Powell, Josh Powell’s father, showed up with a camera.  You can read and watch the story of what happened next from these news sources and videos:

KOMO News in Seattle’s report and video

Utah’s FOX 13 report and video

KUTV-2 in Utah’s report and phone interview with Chuck Cox

The Salt Lake Tribune article is here, and video on the left sidebar

Many people from across the country (and the world) have been posting overwhelming support for Susan and the Cox family on the official Facebook page “Friends and Family of Susan Cox Powell.”  We appreciate all the support, prayers, comments and positive thoughts.  We are in awe of the grace and restraint showed yesterday by Chuck Cox in the face of such obvious goading by Josh and Steve Powell.

One thing is clear: it’s easy to see who really wants to find Susan.

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This morning on the Today show, Steve Powell, Josh Powell’s father, announced that he plans to publish Susan’s private teenage journals on a new website.

News stories as follows:

Today show video clip


Salt Lake Tribune

Deseret News

Public sentiment is universally angry about Steve and Josh Powell’s plans.  No matter what Susan’s teen journals say or don’t say, NO ONE has the right to publish her private thoughts and feelings.  Comments on the above-named media sites are a sample of the public’s feelings.  Emotions on Facebook groups and pages are running high today, as well as personal blog posts and Twitter.  A new Facebook page, “Stop Josh Powell from Publishing Susan Cox Powell’s Journals” was started today by persons unknown and is rapidly gaining fans.

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