Steve Powell, the father of the Utah man who killed himself and two young sons while under investigation for wife Susan Powell’s disappearance, died Sunday of an apparent heart attack.
The Salt Lake Tribune that Steve, 68, died at a hospital in Tacoma, Washington. With limited leads, her family fears the truth of what happened to the missing mother died with Steve. Steve was considered the last person who could’ve known what happened to her.
“We believe a lot of secrets died with him,” Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said of Steve’s death Tuesday, according to The News Tribune.
“I hope maybe he left some notes behind about where Susan might be,” Chuck Cox, Susan’s father, told The Tribune. “And it’s a sad thing that his family’s destroyed, and now he’s gone, too.”
Presumed dead, Susan vanished from her West Valley City home on December 7, 2009. Her husband, Josh Powell, was considered a suspect in her disappearance and killed himself—along with their two sons—during a supervised custody visit in February 2012.
The two children, ages 5 and 7, were outside with a state worker when their father pulled them inside his rental home and locked the door. He reportedly attempted to chop the boys with a hatchet before burning down the house.
A year after that incident, Steve’s other son, Michael Powell, 30, killed himself by jumping off an apartment building. The Tribune noted that Michael had fervently defended Josh, claimed Steve’s child porn charges were a conspiracy to smear their family, and sparred with Susan’s relatives over $1.5 million life insurance policy issued to Josh and his sons. Michael claimed that, four months before Josh’s death, Josh had made him the primary beneficiary of his life insurance policy.
Steve was in prison on child porn and voyeur charges at the time of Josh and his grandsons’ deaths. After Steve appeared on television and read Susan’s journal entries (which he said proved she was capable of walking out on her family), police obtained a warrant to seize the journal for evidence. Officers were executing the warrant when they discovered photographs Steve had taken off his girl neighbors—who were as young as 8—through their bathroom window.
Despite the grim turn of events, Steve maintained that Susan abandoned her family until the very end.
“I had said that for many years…he would take it to his grave,” Debbie Caldwell, a friend of Susan Powell, told Good4UUtah. “I had hoped I was wrong.”
[Featured Image: Powell family/Wikicommons]