UNITED STATES NEWS

‘Cold’: Susan Powell’s secret writings reveal fear, suspicion before disappearance

Nov 28, 2018, 9:36 AM | Updated: 10:56 am

Police in West Valley City located this personal journal belonging to Susan Powell among personal f...

Police in West Valley City located this personal journal belonging to Susan Powell among personal files she kept at her workplace. The journal included entries covering the period shortly after she married her husband, Josh Powell, up until her disappearance on Dec. 7, 2009. (West Valley City, Utah police)

(West Valley City, Utah police)

Editor’s note: This is the third of a weekly series featuring highlights from a KSL investigative podcast series titled “Cold” that reports new information about the case of missing Utah woman Susan Powell.

WEST VALLEY CITY — Susan Powell shook.

She paced back and forth across the living room of her home as her neighbor and friend Kiirsi Hellewell watched from the love seat.

Powell handed Hellewell a stenographer’s notepad. She knew her friend could write quickly, using a form of shorthand. She asked Hellewell to record what she was about to say.

It was the evening of Friday, June 27, 2008. Powell and her husband, Josh, had just gone through the worst argument of their marriage.

Susan’s deposition

Powell said the fight had rocked her so deeply she felt it important to record the play-by-play as evidence. Hellewell’s hand whipped from line to line, filling both front and back of several pages.

Susan Powell provided this notepad to her friend, Kiirsi Hellewell, and asked Hellewell to document an argument she’d had with her husband, Josh, on June 27, 2008. Hellewell used a form of shorthand she’d learned in high school called “speed writing” to keep up with Powell’s speech. (Source: KSL Newsradio)

Powell recounted a shouting match over the two primary sources of friction in her marriage: faith and finances.

“Josh wants her to buy food at prices that don’t exist anymore and said that their marriage would be fixed if Susan fixed food for him and he had good food in his stomach,” Hellewell wrote.

He had reportedly told his wife that the economy was so bad, they’d probably have to leave the country.

“Josh said the reason he is mean to Susan and hurtful and the reason the marriage is broken is because of the Republicans and economy and environment,” Hellewell wrote.

Powell had told her husband she wanted control of her own income, in large part so she could pay tithing to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He’d responded by calling his wife a religious fanatic.

“He said if you pay tithing when you’re not supposed to, you are going to hell,” Hellewell wrote.

At one point, Powell had threatened to call the police. He’d laughed at her. Exasperated, she locked herself in a closet.

“He kept trying to open it and said she was acting like a child,” Hellewell wrote.

Shaken, Powell asked Hellewell to type up the notes and print a copy so she could take the document to work. She intended to keep the deposition where her husband wouldn’t be able to access it.

Last will

Susan Powell went to work the next day. While there, she took out a blue pen and a sheet of college-ruled paper and began to write.

“I bike to work daily and have been having extreme marital stress for about 3 or 4 yrs now,” Powell wrote. “For mine and my children’s safety I feel the need to have a paper trail at work which would not be accessible to my husband.”

Powell wrote about the fight, about the million-dollar life insurance policy in her name and about threatening comments her husband had made when discussing a possible divorce.

“If I die, it may not be an accident, even if it looks like one,” Powell wrote. “Take care of my boys.”

This is Susan Powell’s last will and testament, which she wrote while at work on June 28, 2008, roughly a year and a half prior to her disappearance. Powell placed this document in a safe deposit box to which she alone controlled access. Police in West Valley City recovered it using a subpoena on Dec. 15, 2009. (West Valley City, Utah police)

She signed the document and wrote the words: “Last will and testament for Susan” in the top margin. Then she folded the paper, wrapped it in a second sheet and closed it with staples.

On the outer face of the second sheet, she added, “For family, friends of Susan all except for Josh Powell husband, I don’t trust him!”

Powell placed the document in a blue file folder, next to a printed copy of the deposition she’d dictated to Hellewell. She’d even mentioned Hellewell by name in the will, suggesting police should talk to Hellewell if something were ever to happen to her.

However, Powell did not tell her friend about the will. Hellewell never saw the full document until recently presented with a copy of it.

(Kiirsi Hellewell shares her thoughts after reading her friend Susan Powell’s complete handwritten last will and testament for the first time on Nov. 16, 2018. Video: Josh Szymanik, KSL 5 TV)

Safe deposit box

Powell obtained a safe deposit box at a Wells Fargo Bank branch near her work on Aug. 7, 2008. She moved the last will and testament there, along with U.S. savings bonds and various legal documents that might prove useful if she were ever to flee her home with her sons.

Powell also told co-workers she kept a personal journal at work, where her husband couldn’t access it.

“She said, ‘If something ever happens to me, make sure they look at Josh,’” co-worker Linda Bagley said. “I said, ‘What do you mean, has he threatened you?’ And she said, ‘No, it’s just the way he talks.’”

Susan Powell disappeared under suspicious circumstances on Dec. 7, 2009. Josh Powell was the prime suspect in her presumed murder, yet was never arrested.

West Valley police began interviewing Powell’s friends and co-workers the day after her disappearance. They quickly learned about her secret files.

Police in West Valley City located this personal journal belonging to Susan Powell among personal files she kept at her workplace. The journal included entries covering the period shortly after she married her husband, Josh Powell, up until her disappearance on Dec. 7, 2009. (West Valley City, Utah police)

Investigators secured a subpoena to gain access to the safe deposit box and the will on Dec. 15, 2009.

Police and prosecutors considered the will one of their strongest pieces of circumstantial evidence. However, they determined it was not enough to warrant the filing of any criminal charges.

You can hear the rest of Everett’s story in “Cold.” The new podcast is available for free at thecoldpodcast.com, on Apple Podcasts or through other popular podcast listing services. Connect with “Cold” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @thecoldpodcast.

United States News

Associated Press

Federal judge who presided over R. Kelly trial dead at 87 after battling lung cancer

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who presided over singer R. Kelly’s trial on child sex abuse charges, has died. He was 87. Leinenweber died Tuesday evening, the eastern division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois said in a statement. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Leinenweber had been diagnosed with lung […]

7 minutes ago

Associated Press

Florida’s DeSantis boasts about $116.5B state budget, doesn’t detail what he vetoed

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spent more than an hour talking about what is in the $116.5 billion he signed Monday, but he left out the most important part of the announcement: What was in the nearly $1 billion he vetoed. The Legislature passed a state budget more than three months ago, […]

9 minutes ago

Associated Press

Text of the policy statement the Federal Reserve released Wednesday

WASHINGTON (AP) — Below is the statement the Federal Reserve released Wednesday after its latest policy meeting ended: Recent indicators suggest that economic activity has continued to expand at a solid pace. Job gains have remained strong, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Inflation has eased over the past year but remains elevated. In […]

1 hour ago

Hilton Crawford's Campaign Poster when he ran for Sheriff of Jefferson County in the 1976 Democrati...

Ben Kuebrich, KSL Podcasts

Former officer who kidnapped 12-year-old after tricking parents had red flags in police record

Episode six of Ransom: Position of Trust, dives into Hilton Crawford's past to see who he was and what led him to kidnap Mckay Everett.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Oklahoma Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit of last Tulsa Race Massacre survivors seeking reparations

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit of the last two survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, dampening the hope of advocates for racial justice that the government would make amends for one of the worst single acts of violence against Black people in U.S. history. The nine-member […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

High school president writes notes thanking fellow seniors — 180 of them

Emily Post would be proud. A high school class president in Massachusetts who gave a commencement speech wanted to recognize all of his fellow graduates. So he wrote them personal thank-you notes presented at the ceremony — 180 to be exact. “I wish I could’ve acknowledged you all, but there was simply not enough time,” […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

‘Cold’: Susan Powell’s secret writings reveal fear, suspicion before disappearance