Special Reports

Cox Powell's parents seek files of Pierce, Utah law enforcement

An attorney for the parents of Susan Cox Powell has filed a formal request with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the West Valley City Police Department to review all investigative files related to the missing woman’s case.

Anne Bremner, a Seattle attorney who represents Chuck and Judy Cox, filed the requests this week under Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act and Washington State’s Public Records Act.

She asked for “complete copies of any and all investigative files concerning the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell.”

The request states the documents are being sought “in potential litigation in which they (the Coxes) may seek civil redress in connection with Susan’s disappearance on Dec. 6, 2009.”

Bremner said recently that although West Valley City Police Chief Thayle “Buzz” Nielsen told the Coxes in February they could review files related to their daughter’s case, the family has not yet received any documents that give them insight into how West Valley City has handled the investigation .

Nielsen visited the Coxes in Puyallup in February after Susan Powell’s husband, Josh Powell, killed himself and their two young sons in a gasoline-fueled fire at his Graham-area home.

Josh Powell was the only person of interest named in the disappearance of his wife before his death.

In her request Bremner references laws that entitle crime victims, survivors and witnesses access to investigative files in some cases.

Bremner wrote that the Cox family seeks the investigative files to “further our representation, not for release to other parties or the general public.”

The agencies have 10 days to respond to Bremner’s request.

West Valley City has denied a similar request from The Salt Lake Tribune, which asked the city to release all documents related to the investigation of Josh Powell.

West Valley City officials wrote that Utah law allows the city to classify records as protected if they “reasonably could be expected to interfere with investigations undertaken for enforcement, discipline, licensing, certification or registration purposes.”

The city also stated that releasing the documents might “create a danger of depriving a person of a right to a fair trial or impartial hearing,” among other reasons cited.

Disclosing the requested records could interfere with the investigation into Susan Powell’s disappearance, said Clint Gilmore, West Valley City assistant chief prosecutor and police legal adviser.

On Friday, The Deseret News of Utah reported that Steven Powell, headed for trial in Pierce County on voyeurism charges, won’t get a favorable plea bargain from prosecutors in exchange for information about his missing daughter-in-law.

“There’s been absolutely no discussion of it,” Pierce County assistant prosecutor Grant Blinn told the newspaper.

Blinn said he has never personally spoken to the Cox family.

“Our focus is holding Steven Powell accountable for Pierce County,” Blinn said.

Family members of Susan Powell have said they believe Steve Powell might have been involved in her disappearance or knows what happened to her.

Prosecutors have alleged he surreptitiously took photos of Susan Powell and kept a stash of photos of him masturbating to her picture.

His trial is scheduled for May 7.