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April 27, 2013

2013 HENDERSON COUNTY CRIME VICTIMS CONFERENCE: Where's Susan?

Parents of missing daughter, slain grandchildren speak out

ATHENS — Chuck and Judy Cox travel around the country telling the story of their missing daughter, hoping to someday know the last chapter.

The Puyallup, Wash., couple were the featured speakers at the inaugural Crime Victims Conference of East Texas at Lake Athens Baptist Church on Friday afternoon. The Coxs related the series of events that includes the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell and the death of their grandchildren, ages two and four, who died along with their father Josh Powell, who apparently blew up the family home.

On December 7, 2009, Chuck Cox went to work at the regional office of the Federal Aviation Administration expecting a normal Monday at the office. That was shattered by a phone call from Susan’s sister-in-law reporting that Susan’s two boys had not been delivered at day care.

Later that day, after learning that Susan hadn’t shown up at work, a family member contacted West Valley Police. Officers went to Susan’s residence in West Valley, Utah, and broke into the house.

“What they found at the house was her keys on the bed,” Cox said. “There was no trace of the family and the car was gone.”

WVPD later revealed that officers found a wet spot in the house and two fans running in an attempt to dry it.

Police began to investigate the disappearance and started looking at her husband, Josh, as a person of interest. Two days later, police served a warrant on the Powell residence to remove bags, boxes and a computer. Later that month, when a child services worker went to take the children from Josh Powell and as the search for Susan continued, he went into a back room and apparently blew up the residence.

Chuck Cox said it was frustrating to try to get information from the police, often learning answers to questions he had asked authorities through the press.

Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, Cox said. He would often ask the department how much longer the investigation would continue, only to hear it could take a few more months.

“Every day we wait for the phone call to tell us they’ve found her,” Chuck said. “Anyone who has lost a child or lost a missing person lives with that for the rest of their lives,” Chuck said.

As for others who have had to live with the unexplained disappearance of a loved one, Cox offered some advice to the law enforcement and case workers at the Conference.

“You can’t make it better for them, you can only support them,” he said.

The two-day conference was the first of its kind in Henderson County. It was attended by a large number of prosecutors, law enforcement officers and victims’ advocates.

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