Special Reports

Police say they got what they sought at Powell home

A day after detectives combed through the South Hill home of Josh Powell, investigators were taking stock Friday of the evidence seized and determining how to proceed next.

Officers remained at the home of Powell – the only person of interest police have named in the case of his missing wife, Susan Cox Powell – until about midnight Thursday, said police Lt. Bill Merritt of West Valley City, Utah.

After loading evidence into a police trailer, investigators had a debriefing about the search until 2 a.m. Friday. Later in the day, they regrouped to continue their investigation, Merritt said.

Investigators don’t plan to return to the home where Powell and his two sons have been living with his father, Steve, because they retrieved everything they were seeking, Merritt said.

“It was the stuff we were looking for,” he said. “We’re very happy to have that sort of outcome.”

The police trailer, filled with a “significant amount” of evidence, will be taken back to Utah for analysis. More work needs to be completed before any arrests take place, Merritt said.

Merritt declined to provide details about what was seized, but reporters and neighbors watched as five computer towers as well as several boxes and garbage bags were removed from the home.

Steve Powell said Friday that investigators told him they were looking for Susan Powell’s journals – and they took his journals, as well. He said there were “embarrassing things” in his journals.

On Friday, a temporary restraining order was issued in Pierce County Superior Court, ordering Josh and Steven Powell not to publish any entries from the journals, KOMO-TV reported.

They also were ordered to remove entries from any websites and were prohibited from giving copies to the media.

Susan Powell’s father and mother, Chuck and Judy Cox, sought the order, which said the couple would continue to suffer “severe mental distress and anguish” if the entries were published, according to KOMO.

Susan Powell, a Puyallup native who turned 29 in October, was last seen Dec. 6, 2009. Josh Powell has told police he last saw his wife when he left their West Valley City home and took their sons, then ages 2 and 4, on a late-night camping trip.

She was reported missing the next day.

Steve and Josh Powell have denied any role in Susan Powell’s disappearance. The pair have said they believe she is alive and might have run away with another man.

During Thursday’s search, Josh Powell stayed at the home for about an hour, then left with his sons. At one point, the boys ate pizza with police in the backyard.

“He was very cordial and calm,” Merritt said of Josh Powell. “I did not see any hostility.”

The search had been in the works for some time, Merritt said. Police obtained a warrant to search Josh Powell’s minivan and several rooms in the South Hill home, Merritt said.

Steve Powell, was not at his home during the search, but angrily told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday, “They’re victimizing us more.”

Police on Friday acknowledged publicly they’ve investigated Steve Powell’s possible connection to the case.

While he hasn’t been labeled as a “person of interest,” he and all of Susan Powell’s close friends and relatives have been investigated, Merritt said.

“We have, of course, looked at everybody we can think of that was close to Susan, and that would include Steven,” Merritt said. “Has he been looked at as a potential person of interest in the case? Of course he has.”

Merritt’s comments came after Steve Powell gave interviews to national news networks in which he contradicted earlier descriptions of his relationship with his daughter-in-law.

In December, he told The Salt Lake Tribune that nothing inappropriate had occurred between him and his daughter-in-law.

“Perhaps you should leave this type of allegation to the tabloids,” he wrote in an email in response to a question about whether he had tried to kiss Susan Cox Powell or had romantic feelings for her.

He gave a different answer to the same question earlier this week, telling The Salt Lake Tribune that Susan “never let me forget she was a woman.”

Steve Powell’s comments became more graphic when, during an interview with ABC News on Thursday, he said the two shared “father-in-law - daughter-in-law flirting with each other, maybe some sexual touching or whatever. And, I enjoyed it, frankly.”

Jennifer Graves, Steve Powell’s daughter, and Chuck Cox, Susan Powell’s father, have said Steve Powell lied about any consensual relationship with Susan Powell and that she disliked her father-in-law.

Thursday’s activity was at least the third time law enforcement has searched the Powell home.

In the early days of Susan Powell’s disappearance, Steve Powell said he gave permission for detectives from West Valley City and Pierce County Sheriff’s Department to search his home and ensure his daughter-in-law was not there.

Federal agents arrived at the home May 11, 2010, to retrieve a GPS tracking device they had secretly placed on Josh Powell’s minivan. Documents provided by Steve Powell show he gave agents permission to search his home that day.

Steve Powell said agents from the U.S. Marshals Service also arrived at his home Nov. 16, requesting copies of Susan Powell’s childhood journals.

He told The Salt Lake Tribune he agreed to provide copies of the journals, but agents never followed up on the request.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.