Cold: new evidence suggests Michael Powell lied under oath

Feb 20, 2019, 2:05 AM | Updated: 10:18 am
Josh and Michael Powell...
Michael and Josh Powell have long been suspects in the 2009 disappearance of Josh's wife, Susan Powell. (Photos: Facebook; KSL TV)
(Photos: Facebook; KSL TV)

On June 6, 2010, about six months after Susan Powell disappeared, someone calling herself “Molly Hunt” made a post on the “Friends and Family of Susan Powell” Facebook group, writing:

“I feel so heartwarmed by seeing the support I see from you Susan’s friends!”

Molly signed her posts with Xs, Os, and heart emoticons, and on her page, she listed her favorite things as Twilight, little dogs, and “my soap operas.”

She was also very interested in joining a private, closed-off group related to Susan Powell’s disappearance. Right from the second day, she immediately started asking for access, apparently very interested in being able to see what people were saying about Susan, her disappearance or the man police suspected was behind it: her husband, Josh Powell.

The woman who’d created and administered the Friends and Family group, Susan’s friend Kiirsi Hellewell, exchanged personal messages with Molly, never suspecting whom she was really talking to.

Molly Hunt was Josh and Michael Powell.

As police would later learn through a wiretap on Josh Powell’s phone, he and his brother had opened the account to monitor Facebook activity related to Susan Powell’s disappearance.

This week, however, investigative reporter Dave Cawley of the podcast Cold repaid them in kind. Cawley successfully guessed the password to the Molly Hunt account and discovered evidence that Michael Powell lied under oath.

Michael Powell under scrutiny

Molly Hunt Facebook Account

The “Molly Hunt” profile created by Josh and Michael Powell.

On October 20, 2012, Michael Powell sat for a civil deposition.

Michael had become embroiled in a lawuit over $3.5 million in life insurance covering Josh, Susan, Charlie and Braden Powell.

Two months before killing himself and the boys, Josh had changed the beneficiaries on his policies. He wanted every penny to go to his siblings, with 93 percent of any eventual payout going directly to Michael.

Just before the murder-suicide, Josh mailed his youngest brother letters. They granted Michael full rights to Josh’s property, including items previously confiscated by police, as well as the rights to his story.

At the time, investigators were beginning to suspect that Michael Powell might have knowledge of his sister-in-law’s fate.

Ditching the Taurus

On Dec. 22, 2009 – 15 days after Susan disappeared – Michael sold his Ford Taurus to a salvage yard in Oregon for a hundred dollars. Police believed he’d hoped the car would be destroyed.

That was not the case. In September 2011, police recovered the car. They had a cadaver dog to check the vehicle. It showed particular interest in the trunk.

Police seized the car. When they later searched it, they found hair in the trunk’s carpet.

michael powell deposition

West Valley police recovered Michael Powell’s 1997 Ford Taurus from the Lindell Auto lot in September, 2011. Photo: West Valley City, Utah police

The DNA profile developed from that hair did not match Susan Powell’s profile. The lead detective on the case, Ellis Maxwell, said he was skeptical that Susan was ever herself in the trunk.

“I never thought that [Michael] was involved deeply with Josh,” Maxwell said later. “I assumed that he would have some information Josh shared with him.”

However, a number of people – including some of Maxwell’s colleagues – still suspect that Michael might have helped Josh dispose of Susan’s body.

Deposing Michael Powell

Michael didn’t reveal much in his deposition. He kept his answers simple and didn’t say anything that Det. Maxwell thought he could use.

Now, however, Cawley has uncovered evidence that suggests Michael lied under oath. In hacking the Molly Hunt account, Cawley found possible evidence that Michael committed perjury.

During the deposition, Michael told the court he “almost never” uses Facebook. And when asked, he said he wasn’t sure if he was registered under “Michael Powell” or another name.

He neglected to mention, of course, that he and his brother had set up the fake Molly Hunt account to spy on Susan’s friends. Looking over the account’s records, Cawley found records showing that, on several occasions, someone had logged into the account from the University of Minnesota, where Michael Powell was pursuing his Ph.D.

Cold: Episode 15

Hear Cawley himself explain the full story behind the deposition, Molly Hunt, and Michael Powell’s strange role in the case in episode 15 of Cold.

Today’s Top Stories


Lisa Garner. Photo credit Draper City....
Mark Jones

Lisa Garner has support of Draper mayor to become next city judge

Draper Mayor Troy Walker is seeking the appointment of Lisa Garner as the city's next judge. The appointment must be approved by the city council on Oct. 4.
1 day ago
Two Murray police cruisers are shown...
Mark Jones

Murray Police warning public to be on lookout for scam

Several reports of a scam have been reported in Murray. According to police, a caller pretends to be from the Murray Police Department and attempts to notify a person of a warrant and insists the person pay the bail amount.
1 day ago
An electronic sign on the campus of the University of Utah was seen displaying pornography today....
Becky Bruce

Slight increase in crime on U of U campus from previous year, report says

There has been a slight increase in crime on campus over the previous year, according to a report released Friday by the University of Utah.
1 day ago
salt lake shooting arrest...
Simone Seikaly

Teen arrested, suspected of aggravated murder in Salt Lake City

The suspect in a fatal shooting on Sept. 10 was arrested in West Jordan after a search warrant pointed to his whereabouts.
1 day ago
pig poop power...
Elizabeth Weiler

Nations largest pig farm exposed, two face criminal charges

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A jury selection is underway after two activists filmed their theft of dying piglets from Utah’s Circle Four Farm in an attempt to save them.  Advocates are calling it a landmark case to establish the “Right to Rescue” animals in distress.  Animal rights activists Paul Darwin Picklesimer and a former Northwestern […]
1 day ago
Taylorsville police have increased presence in the area (FILE PHOTO: KSLNewsRadio)...
Elizabeth Weiler

Attempted kidnapping of a minor near a Taylorsville school

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — Police are investigating an attempted kidnapping case that occurred on Thursday, Sept. 29. just outside Bennion Jr. High School.  According to Taylorsville Police Department, the 11-year-old was walking home from school when she was approached by a man. The suspect, who was on foot, tried to get the girl to go with […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
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.
Cold: new evidence suggests Michael Powell lied under oath