For the first time, the full police interviews of Charlie Powell, the son of missing West Valley City woman Susan Powell, are availability in their entirety online.
The first Charlie Powell interview
Charlie Powell was four years old at the time of his mother’s disappearance in December 2009. He and his brother Braden, then two, arrived back at the Powell family home on Sarah Circle in West Valley City on the evening of Dec. 7, 2009, with their father in the Powells’ minivan. The boys’ mother, Susan, was nowhere to be found.
The next day, West Valley City Detective Kim Waelty interviewed Charlie Powell at a children’s justice center while police questioned his father, Josh Powell, at a different location.
During the forensic interview, Charlie made some perplexing statements about where the family had been the days before. His mother, Charlie said, went camping with the boys and their father – a contradiction of Josh’s own statements.
“My mom stayed where – uh – crystals are,” Charlie told the detective.
Police confronted Josh Powell with that information in his own interview. He continued to insist Susan did not go camping with them.
That interview and a second interview, conducted by the same detective but in Washington state, are available to watch now in their entirety through the YouTube account of the Cold podcast. It’s the first time either interview has been available publicly in full.
Charlie’s second police interview
The second interview with Charlie was not necessarily any more enlightening than the first, in which he’d talked about taking an airplane to go camping at a place he called “Dinosaur National Park.”
Detectives, like Waelty, who work with young children receive special training to ask questions without “leading” kids to say what they want to hear. But memory, particularly in young kids, can be tricky. Events from the distant and the recent past can become mixed up in a child’s mind.
However, during the second interview, police believed they observed evidence that some adults were coaching Charlie about what to say. First, Charlie told Waelty his mom had gone to the North Pole. Later, he said, the topic was off-limits.
“Don’t ask me,” Charlie Powell told the detective. “I can’t talk about her.”
Then, a little later: “We can’t talk about Susan or camping. I always keep things as secrets.”
Where the case stands now
Charlie Powell would have been 15 years old on Jan. 19, 2020, if he had lived. Instead, Josh Powell killed Charlie and his brother Braden before taking his own life in a February 2012 house fire in Washington state. They were visiting their father under the supervision of the state.
Next month, a Washington state judge will hear arguments in a wrongful death lawsuit in the case. Susan Powell’s parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, sued the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. They argued the agency should have done more to protect Charlie and Braden and prevent their murders at the hands of their father.
The 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:
- Utah Domestic Violence Coalition: Utah’s confidential statewide, 24-hour domestic violence hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465)
- YWCA Women in Jeopardy program: 801-537-8600
- Utah’s statewide child abuse and neglect hotline: 1-855-323-DCFS (3237)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233