Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Truth of the Matter

by Pat Brown

On December 6th in Salt Lake City, Utah, Josh Powell's wife, Susan, went missing sometime in the wee hours of the morning. It wouldn't be too unusual if she had been out jogging in the dark at midnight or was last seen drinking in the parking lot behind a bar with some sketchy character; serial killers look for victims that are easy prey and female joggers and intoxicated women are two of their favorite targets.

But, Susan Powell didn't spend the last evening before her disappearance involved in any high risk behavior (and I mean behavior that one should have a right to engage in, but could get you killed nonetheless). She had friends over for dinner with her husband and two children, and then, as far as we know, settled in for the night. Her hubby, on the other hand, must have been a bit restless.

When the clock struck twelve, Josh Powell got a bit of wanderlust, so he says. He woke their two young boys (and I say woke because a two-year-old and a four-year-old are unlikely to still be up when both parents have work in the morning) and, with no argument from his wife or his sleepy boys, took them on a 'just us guys' adventure, one they were sure to be excited about! A trip into the desert in a freezing cold snowstorm! Woo hoo! I hope they had a great time, because when Mr. Powell finally brought the boys home at 5 PM Monday afternoon (well, he didn't go to work because he forgot what day it was), his wife wasn't there. Josh found his wife had gone missing in the middle of the night, leaving her purse and cell phone behind (no wonder she never called Josh to remind him what day it was).

Susan's family, on the other hand, knew it was Monday. They were called when she never dropped her kids off at day care. They found out Susan had never shown up at work. They couldn't find Josh and the children. They called the police. The police came to the home and found a wet spot on the carpet with two fans blowing on it. Apparently Susan must have spilled something after Josh and the kids went off on their camping trip.

I can see what all of you are thinking, but don't jump to conclusions. The police have clearly stated Josh Powell is not a suspect. When I slipped up yesterday morning on the Today Show, Matt Lauer promptly corrected me, as he should; Mr. Powell is not a suspect. The family also does not view Josh as a suspect. They say there were no problems between him and Susan and that his middle-of-the-night camping trip was not so strange for him. He also often forgets what day it is. They think the police should broaden their investigation to include scenarios other than a domestic homicide.

Let's get real. I don't know when this silly rule showed up where the police can't say someone is a suspect when he clearly is. In this case, the police haven't looked at any other possibility than that Josh Powell killed his wife in the middle of the night. They have not reached out to the public for information or informed them that Susan was kidnapped. They said she is unlikely to have run off, since her purse and phone were still in the home. They won't, however, say Mr. Powell is a suspect. They won't even say he is a person of interest. Obviously, the legal climate has dampened the ability for folks to be forthright and honest. Well, let me do it for them. Josh Powell is the one and only suspect in the disappearance of Susan Powell, unless some other information or evidence comes to light that takes the focus off of him.

Let's look at the three most likely scenarios in the disappearance of Susan:

1) Josh Powell killed her.
2) Susan ran off with a lover or was sick of taking care of her kids and working.
3) Someone kidnapped her in the night.

Scenario Two goes like this: In spite of the fact Susan has a good character, that she is a stockbroker with good career, that she loves her little boys, and that no one has said she acted in any bizarre way in the past, she just took off. She is running off to meet her lover or abandoning her family or she is seeking attention by staging a domestic murder or abduction a la Jennifer Wilbanks, the Runaway Bride. I would have to vote for the attention-getting motive for disappearing since the other two reasons would mean she would probably take her purse and phone along and her car (unless her lover was picking her up). But, that night she decided she wanted to worry everyone and vanish without a trace. Lucky for her, Josh decided to take the boys on a camping trip at midnight allowing her to slip away on foot into the night, with nothing on her person.

Scenario Number Three goes like this. A serial killer or an obsessed stalker decided he wanted to grab Susan. Rather than pick a time when she was home alone or out taking a jog or a walk by herself, he decides to go to the house on a Sunday evening hoping to find her alone. But, alas, the whole family is at home. However, he is a patient man and waits, hoping he will get lucky. And, whaddya know? The husband decides to take his boys on a camping trip at midnight and drives off leaving Susan alone for her abducter to grab. He is really good at not leaving any evidence around, too; no sign of a break-in, no sign of a struggle, no footprints in the snow, and if he did leave evidence, he must have scrubbed it away and set the fans out to dry the carpet because he really cares about leaving a house the way he found it.

Now to Scenario Number One: Josh Powell killed his wife, tried to eliminate the evidence, and took her body in the van to some remote location. He may or may not have taken the children with him at that point in time. He may have left them alone like Bobby Cutts did with his son while he drove to a park to dispose of his pregnant girlfriend. Then again, he may have brought the kids along so they wouldn't wake up and start screaming and alert the neighbors that something was amiss in the home. The police say they went to the location where Josh says he was camping, but we have no way of knowing if he really went there or if he went there after he made a detour. Josh had all night to find a good hideaway for his wife's body.

I don't think it is too difficult to figure out which scenario is likely the right scenario. But, if most of us see this, then what of Susan's family? Why do they disbelieve Josh couldn't have anything to do with what happened to their daughter? Well, if I were them, I would want to believe more than anything in the world that my son-in-law is just an oddball and has a bad memory and communication problems, because the alternative is too awful to consider. They know Susan isn't any Jennifer Wilbanks, so they have to hope she was abducted and is being held somewhere to eventually escape or be found and saved. They have to hope their son-in-law is really not a person of interest or a suspect and the police are failing to due their job diligently.

Sadly, in spite of the family's support for Josh Powell and the police refusal to call him a suspect, the odds of this case not being a domestic homicide are about as good as Natalee Holloway living a life of blond girl slavery in Guyana. It might be a distant possibility, but no police detective is really entertaining alternative theories when the evidence in front of them all supports the same scenario.

I hope some evidence shows up that changes this bleak picture, and Susan Powell can come home to her boys, but in spite of all the effort to avoid calling her husband a suspect, we all know in our hearts he is.


FleaStiff said...

In the UK the phrase is "a person who may be able to assist the police with their inquiries". Now that is a mouthful that often translates to suspect but can clearly incluce a mere helpful witness.

In the USA, we seem to have this "person of interest" and "suspect" phobia until such time as the foreman actually announces the jury's verdict although sometimes its simply that someone transitions from Person of Interest to Suspect at the time the handcuffs get slapped on him.

Its all utter nonsense. Just because those little green men could have left the fans blowing onto the rug doesn't mean they did!

Cheryl said...

They aren't calling him a suspect because once they do he will likely "lawyer up" and stop cooperating.

Hell of a story he spun though - A midnite camping trip with a 2 & 4 year old?

Sure you did Josh. I believe ya....really I do!

Cheryl said...

Just read on the website that Josh has lawyered up.

Pat Brown said...

Wow, Fleastiff! What a mouthful! Cheryl, you are correct that sometimes in the beginning the police will not say someone is a suspect to keep a friendly dialog with him. In this case, however, I would think they have grilled the hell out of Josh Powell because his story is so ridiculous. But, this "suspect" and "person-of-interest' issue has become a pain on the airwaves and in the media. Everyone (well, except me) is very careful not to use the word unless the police have verified that an individual has been labeled one or the other. But we all know that regardless of the terminology, that person is indeed a suspect as the word is defined by Webster's dictionary.

Pat Brown said...

::laughs::Now, police say that while Josh Powell is not a suspect they have a "strong interest" in him. Hmmm, wouldn't that make him a suspect?

Soobs said...

For once, I agree with you. I realize that LE wants to use "friendly" words, in order to keep the spouse communicating, but in THIS case, the spouse lawyered up after the first day. They are FINALLY calling him a "person of interest." Hardly a surprise to any of us that follow crime, and know that the FIRST people LE looks at, are family members.

As for her family, perhaps they too, want to keep it friendly, in case he messes up. And of course, he is in possession of their grandchildren. If they accuse him outright, how long do you think it will take, before he won't allow them to see the children??

The world has become so PC, it's maddening.

Pat Brown said...

I think you have a good point, Soobs, about the family and the grandchildren. It had to be terrifying to consider the man possibly (or likely) killed your daughter and, if that is true your grandchildren are living with him. And, if you turn against him and later find out he is innocent, he probably will keep you out of his children's live and you will not see the grandchildren again. Horrible position for Susan's family to be in.

Ronni said...

At least he hasn't pulled a Chris Coleman and offed the kids, too and tried to blame it on some psycho stalker...

I suppose they are holding out for a body. Good luck with that. How many thousands of acres of snow-covered desert?

I agree with you about the suspect/person of interest. Not much point now that he has lawyered up.

Anonymous said...

Re: Use of "person of interest versus suspect." I thought I would note, for posterity, that the local news hereabouts is still referring to David Crable, the man who shot the two Pierce County deputies on Dec. 21, as a "suspect," even considering that Crable was blown away on the spot by the wounded Officer Mundell (who has since died). Not to mention that Crable's own relatives were trying to protect the officers from Crable.

It's pretty clear that Crable did it, and there's no logical reason not to talk about it since dead men don't what's with the use of the term "suspect?"