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Missing Utah mom: Amid suspicions, husband loses custody of 2 sons

September 29, 2011 | 11:45 am

The husband of a missing Utah woman has temporarily lost custody of their two young boys after authorities again voiced their suspicions that he is responsible for Susan Powell's 2009 disappearance.

Tacoma, Wash., Judge Kathryn Nelson granted temporary custody Wednesday of the boys, ages 4 and 6, to Susan Powell's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox. The judge said Josh Powell -- who has been living at his father's home in Washington state with his two sons -- would have visitation rights.

Susan Powell vanished in 2009. Her husband denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged, but law enforcement officers say he has been uncooperative and describe him as the only person of interest in the case.

“It leads the state to believe that he is responsible for her disappearance," prosecutor John Long told the court this week.

The judge was also alerted to another twist in the bizarre case: Steve Powell of Puyallup, Wash., -- Josh Powell's father -- pleaded not guilty to charges that he possessed child pornography and took secret videotapes of girls and women, including Susan Powell.

Recent weeks have also seen more salacious tidbits, including claims that Steve Powell was sexually obsessed with his daughter-in-law. Jennifer Graves, Josh Powell's sister, said in an interview with the Associated Press that she broke off ties with her father in part because of his problems with sex and pornography. She recalled going on a business trip with her father when she was about 11 and that he viewed a pornographic video while she was with him.

"Looking back, I wonder if he was willing to do that with a 10-12 year [old] girl -- his daughter -- in the room, what else would he be willing to do?" she told the AP.

Josh Powell has said repeatedly that he does not know what happened to his wife. The circumstances of their last night together have raised eyebrows. He says he decided to leave the family's West Valley City home in the middle of the night and take the two boys on a camping trip in the snow-covered Utah desert. When he returned home, he said, his wife was gone and has never been seen again.

Law enforcement and volunteers continue to comb the region for any sign of Susan Powell.


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Photo: Josh Powell leaves the courtroom after losing temporary custody of his two sons. Credit: Ted S. Warren / Associated Press