CRIME

Det. Ellis Maxwell, lead investigator on the Susan Powell case, talks about the day she disappeared

Dec 5, 2018, 8:24 AM | Updated: 1:26 pm
Susan Powell Journal...
Det. Ellis Maxwell, lead investigator on the Susan Powell case, speaks with KSL Newsradio's Dave Cawley on "Cold". (Photo; West Valley City Police)
(Photo; West Valley City Police)

WEST VALLEY CITY — Det. Ellis Maxwell was called to the home of Josh and Susan Powell on Dec. 7, 2009.

Their friends were in a panic. Susan hadn’t shown up at the daycare that morning to drop off their children, Charlie and Braden, and when they went to check on her, the house was empty.

The doors were locked. The blinds on every window had been pulled down. And no matter how hard they pounded on the door, no one answered.

Police had to smash a window to get inside, but the only things moving inside were two box fans, their blades spinning as they pointed at a couch that appeared to have just been cleaned.

Susan Powell would never be seen again. The only other trace anyone would ever find of her would be on the couch: a streak of her blood the cleaning had failed to remove.

Det. Ellis Maxwell talks about the Susan Powell case

Det. Ellis Maxwell on Susan Powell's disappearance.

The couch in the Powell household as photographed on Dec. 9, 2009, labeled with evidence tags. (Photo: West Valley City Police)

It would be hard to find anyone who knows more about the disappearance of Susan Powell than Det. Maxwell. He was the lead investigator on the case; the man West Valley City sent to the Powell house the day the Powell family was reported missing, when it became clear it might be a job for more than just patrol officers.

It’s a job that’s left him with some difficult questions.

From the very start, the police and the media alike publicly talked about Susan’s husband, Josh Powell, as a person of interest in her case. And yet, despite all the suspicion, Powell was never arrested or charged in the case.

Then, a little over two years after Susan disappeared, on Feb. 5, 2012, Josh Powell killed himself and their two sons, an event that, in the minds of many, changed Susan’s fate from a mystery to a certainty. An overwhelming majority became convinced that Josh had killed her, and opinion pieces filled the press with titles demanding: “Why weren’t charges filed against Josh Powell?”

That question is explored in the KSL podcast “Cold,” a multi-part investigation into the disappearance of Susan Powell. Today, in its fourth episode, host Dave Cawley has been able to sit down with Det. Maxwell himself and talk about everything he saw and that went through his mind on the day he visited Susan Powell’s home.

With details never shared with the public before, Det. Maxwell has explained why Josh’s behavior that day made him a suspect and why, despite an overwhelming suspicion that something was wrong, he simply didn’t enough evidence to press charges.

You can hear the interview, including actual audio from Josh Powell’s questioning on Dec. 7, on Cold.

Listen to Cold on the KSL Newsradio website or on Apple Podcasts.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Utah Domestic Violence Coalition operates a confidential statewide, 24-hour domestic abuse hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465). Resources are also available online: udvc.org.

Help for people in abusive relationships can be found by contacting:

Today’s Top Stories

Crime

Ron and Sy Snarr, of Salt Lake City, talk on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, about how they forgave Jorge Be...
Amy Donaldson

“The Letter” – After the murder of Zachary Snarr, a family tries to rebuild

A family realizes that returning to a sense of normalcy after the death of Zachary Snarr is a complicated and lonely road.
21 hours ago
An officer is in stable condition after a shooting that left one dead on Sept. 27, 2022. (Adam Smal...
Amie Schaeffer

Officer-involved shooting kills one, sends officer to hospital

A South Salt Lake Police officer is in the hospital after a shots were exchanged overnight. One person kiled.
21 hours ago
Salt Lake City Police responded to five different incidents involving weapons on Monday, Sept. 26, ...
Mark Jones

Salt Lake City Police respond to five different incidents with weapons

Salt Lake City Police responded to five different incidents Monday involving a weapon.
2 days ago
Aaron Lowe...
Waverly Golden

One year since the passing of Utah football player Aaron Lowe

A year ago, University of Utah defensive back Aaron Lowe was fatally shot in a Sugar House neighborhood following a house party.
2 days ago
Police SUV...
Amie Schaeffer

Woman dies in SLC shooting, suspect arrested

A shooting in Salt Lake City on Sunday killed a woman. Authorities are looking into the possibility this is a domestic-related homicide.
2 days ago
SLCPD is currently investigating a shooting that occurred Sunday night. One person is in the hospit...
Devin Oldroyd

One person in critical condition after Sunday night shooting

SLCPD is currently investigating a shooting that occurred Sunday night. One person is in the hospital in critical condition
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Det. Ellis Maxwell, lead investigator on the Susan Powell case, talks about the day she disappeared