TACOMA — Steven Powell, the father-in-law of a long-missing Utah woman whose husband was eyed in a police investigation and later killed himself and his two young children, has died in Washington state.
Powell, 67, died Monday at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma, a year after he completed a prison sentence for possession of child pornography. Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Powell’s death was due to heart problems.
Authorities seeking evidence in Susan Powell’s 2009 disappearance searched Steven Powell’s home two years later. Journals and piles of photos found during the investigation suggested that he had a sexual and emotional draw to his daughter-in-law.
Susan Powell remains missing and she is presumed dead. Her family considered Steven Powell the last, most-likely person to know what happened to her.
“I hope maybe he left some notes behind about where Susan might be,” Chuck Cox, Susan Powell’s father, told The Salt Lake Tribune. “And it’s a sad thing that his family’s destroyed, and now he’s gone, too.”
The disappearance case remains open but all leads have been exhausted, Utah authorities said Tuesday.
The death of Steven Powell doesn’t “make the case any more or less likely to be solved,” the West Valley City Police Department said in a statement.
Authorities named Josh Powell as a person of interest as details emerged regarding his dysfunctional marriage to Susan Powell.
The young mother wrote in her journal in 2008: “If I die, it may not be an accident even if it looks like one … Take care of my boys.”
Josh Powell later moved to Puyallup, Washington.
Authorities say he intentionally killed himself and their two young sons, 7-year-old Charles and 5-year-old Braden, in an explosive house fire in 2012. The deaths occurred during a custody battle with the parents of his wife.
Investigators who searched the home of Steven Powell found evidence that he used a telephoto lens to take photos of girls 8 and 9 from his bedroom window, which looked onto their bathroom. He was convicted of voyeurism, served 30 months in prison and was released a year ago.
Investigators also eyed Josh Powell’s brother, Michael, who they believe helped Josh Powell dispose of his wife’s body. Michael Powell died of suicide by jumping off a parking garage in Minneapolis in 2013.