Susan Cox Powell’s Disappearance Timeline

susan powell disappearance

Charley Project Susan Powell

Susan Cox Powell who disappeared at age 28 from her home in Utah. Her husband, Josh Powell, was the sole suspect in the case. He killed the couple’s two young sons and himself in a planned explosion in 2012.

Powell was 28 years old when she disappeared December 7, 2009 from her home in Utah. She was reported missing the following day when she did not show up at work or drop off her sons at daycare.

Susan Powell and Josh Powell were married at a Mormon temple nine months after she graduated from Rogers High School in 2000. The couple had two children, ages 2 and 4, Charlie and Braden, according to The News Tribune.

The case is being examined on a new episode of ABC 20/20, which airs Friday, November 13, 2020.

Here’s what you need to know:


Susan Powell and Josh Powell file for bankruptcy, with nearly $200,000 in debt, according to The Charley Project.

June 28, 2008

Susan Powell addresses a letter to family and friends, which said her husband had threatened her and she feared for her life. The letter said Josh Powell threatened to “destroy her” if she divorced him, and warned that if she dies “it may not be an accident, even if it looks like one.” She kept the letter in a safe deposit box, which only she could access.

December 6, 2009

A friend visits Susan Powell and Josh Powell at their home for lunch.

“According to her friend, Susan was behaving normally at the time and only said she was tired and wanted to nap before dinner,” The Charley Project said.

December 7, 2009

Susan Powell is last seen. She vanished from her home in Utah, where she lived with her husband, Josh Powell, and their two young sons. Josh Powell told police he took his sons, ages 2 and 4, on a camping trip the night before. Police were suspicious of the story, because the temperatures were subzero.

Their older son, who was then five, later told police their mother was also on the camping trip with them, according to The News Tribune.

He said “his mommy went camping with them although she did not come back home with them and he did not know why.”

December 8, 2009

Susan Powell is reported missing. She did not show up for work or drop her son off at daycare.

She worked in finance for Wells Fargo. Her sons were named Charlie and Braden.

Police found her purse and cell phone at her home. Two fans were set to dry a wet sofa, and traces of blood were found on the floor a few feet away.

Police question Josh Powell, who claims he took his two sons on a midnight camping trip, even though the temperatures were subzero. He admitted to fighting with his wife, saying he accused her of sleeping with another man.

Cellular data showed Josh Powell spoke with a neighbor around 3 p.m. He told the neighbor he was driving around town with his sons, and had no idea his wife was missing. He said he didn’t realize she had not gone to work. He then drove 20 miles out of town, and left a message on Susan Powell’s voicemail saying he was back from a camping trip.

In Josh Powell’s car, police found a generator, blanket, gas can, tarps, shovel and his wife’s cell phone.

Police begin the search for Susan Powell. That search took them through the desert and mine shafts throughout Utah and Nevada. They never found any trace of Susan.

December 15, 2009

Josh Powell is officially named as a suspect in the case. He hires an attorney to represent him. Police said he had not been cooperative in the investigation. His vehicle is taken into evidence, and he rents a vehicle. Powell drove several hundred miles in the rental car, according to The Charley Project.

February 4, 2012

During the 24-hour period before Powell killed himself and his sons, he gave away their toys and books and made a series of goodbyes through phone calls and letters. He also filled two five-gallon gas cans with gasoline, according to The News Tribune.

One of his last phone calls was to his sister. He left a voicemail, saying, “This is Josh. I’m calling to say goodbye. I am not able to live without my sons, and I’m not able to go on anymore. I’m sorry to everyone I’ve hurt. Goodbye.”

February 5, 2012

During a scheduled supervised visit between Josh Powell and his sons, Charlie and Braden, he killed his children and himself. When a social worker arrived with the boys, he pulled the children inside and slammed the door in her face, according to an appeal filed in a Washington state circuit court. The social worker pounded on the door until she smelled gas. Then, the house exploded. Josh Powell and the boys died from carbon monoxide poisoning. A secondary cause of death to the children were “chopping injuries.” Police believe he attacked his sons with a hatchet before the fire, according to The News Tribune.

May 2013

Police officially close the case in Susan Powell’s disappearance.

READ NEXT: Steve Powell, Josh Powell’s Father: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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