WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (KSTU) – As he sat in a chair in a corner of an interview room waiting for a detective to come in and talk to him about his missing wife, Josh Powell stared at his hands and cried.
“Do you feel like you’re under arrest?” a detective asked him as the interview got under way.
“I don’t know,” he cried. “I didn’t even think it was that. I don’t know where she’s at and she ain’t back yet.”
The West Valley City Police Department released nearly four hours of videotaped police interrogations to FOX 13 (KSTU-TV/Salt Lake City) on Wednesday, under a public records request. Throughout the interview, police try to pin a clearly anxious Powell down about details surrounding his whereabouts and what may have happened to Susan Cox Powell.
Powell was cagey.
“You guys are already trying to trap me on little things,” he told a detective.
Detective Ellis Maxwell asked Powell why he was so scared of them, since they are trying to solve a missing persons case.
“I just want to talk, but I’m getting scared,” Powell said.
“Well, if you haven’t done nothing wrong, if you haven’t done anything wrong, Josh, if you didn’t do anything wrong, there’s nothing to be scared about,” Maxwell replied.
“Well, I’m scared about the possibilities,” Powell said.
“Of what’s happened,” Powell blurted out.
As the interview progresses, Powell offers his version of events. He pauses for lengthy periods of time. At some points, he says he simply can’t remember details.
He claims he took their two sons camping in the midst of a snowstorm in Utah’s West Desert, returning to phone calls from anxious family members worried for the family’s safety.
“I was like, ‘OK, that’s cool. We’re found, so quit obsessing,’” Powell recalled to detectives. “Then I was going to pick up Susan, and waiting for her and she didn’t come down, and about the time I was trying to decide what to do next, it was either my mom or my sister called me.”
Family and friends had already called West Valley City Police on Dec. 7, 2009, reporting the entire family missing. Police broke into the Powell home to find it empty. Susan’s purse was on a dresser in their room, a pair of fans were blowing on the couch. In the interview, Powell told detectives he’d cleaned the couch at Susan’s insistence. He was upset with police for breaking a window to find the family.
As the interview progresses, detectives scrutinized Powell’s version of events. He accused police of trying to entrap him. Detective Maxwell said they were trying to get information about Susan that could help find the missing woman.
“The closest people to a person is always the top suspect,” Powell told detectives.
Eventually, Powell expressed an interest in leaving. Maxwell said he would read him his Miranda rights before proceeding with more questions. Powell became more insistent that he leave.
“Well, if you don’t want to talk…,” Maxwell told him.
“Then what?” Powell asked.
“Then I guess you can leave. I mean, you could leave any time, anyways.”
“I, yeah. I mean, let me think about it for a couple of days, and…”
“Your wife is missing, Josh,” Maxwell insisted.
“And you want to think about it for a couple of days?”
“I’ve already answered everything. I’ve told I would answer everything. I don’t understand why…”
Just as Powell had stood to leave, another detective enters the room and talks to him. Then Maxwell returns to the room and tells him to sit down.
“One of our detectives just interviewed your children, and your children are telling our detectives that mom went with you guys last night,” Maxwell told Powell. “She didn’t come back.”
Powell insisted his children were not telling the truth.
“There is nothing that happened,” he said. “She was not with us, and if my kids said that…”
“So your kids lie then? Your kids lie?” one detective asked Powell.
“Sometimes they do. I mean, if they said that she was with us, they know that’s not true, and if they say that she was with us, then I guess that would put her out on the Pony Express (Trail).”
“That’s my concern,” the detective told Powell. “That’s our concern.”
Powell asked for an attorney. After police took his phone and left the room, he sat alone for a few minutes. Then, detective Maxwell returned and said he was free to go.
It was immediately after that, police said, that Josh Powell rented a car and put more than 800 miles on it. Where he went remains a mystery. Powell ultimately killed himself and the couple’s children in an explosion and house fire last year in Graham, Wash.
In closing their active investigation into Susan Cox Powell’s disappearance last month, police revealed that they suspected Josh Powell had killed his wife — and that his brother, Michael Powell, had helped dispose of her body.
Police recently searched a property in Oregon that Josh Powell was familiar with, but had come up with nothing. Susan’s family has hired a private investigator and launched their own searches in hopes of finding her remains.