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West Valley police contacted Minneapolis cops about Susan Powell
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The West Valley City Police Department contacted law enforcement in Minnesota —the state where Josh Powell's brother Michael relocated to in 2010 — to inform police there about the investigation into the disappearance of Susan Powell.

A Minneapolis Police Department spokesman confirmed Wednesday that West Valley City police contacted a Minneapolis homicide lieutenant about the case.

"The police department did contact our police department about an ongoing investigation," said Sgt. Stephen McCarty of the Minneapolis Police Department. "They did talk to (a homicide lieutenant) and had a conversation with him about the case."

McCarty said he couldn't disclose other details, including when West Valley City police contacted Minneapolis police and how frequently the two agencies have been in communication. He declined to provide specifics related to what information Utah law enforcement provided about the case, and specifically, what information was provided about Michael C. Powell —who is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities.

The revelation, however, is interesting in the wake of cryptic comments made by West Valley City Police Chief Buzz Nielsen on Monday, who said that along with Steve Powell, there are others who are being looked at in the case of Susan Powell, who went missing from her West Valley City home on Dec. 6, 2009.

West Valley City police have said that Josh Powell was the only person of interest in the disappearance of his wife.

Michael Powell, 29, has been critical of the investigation into the case of missing sister-in-law and has claimed police unjustly harassed his brother and family. He is currently embroiled in a court battle over insurance policies taken out by Josh Powell, who killed himself and his two sons on Feb. 6 in Puyallup, Wash.

Before carrying out the murders, Josh Powell named Michael Powell as a beneficiary in insurance policies that totaled about $1.5 million. Michael Powell was to receive a 93 percent share of his brother's insurance policy, with 4 percent left to his sister Alina Powell and 3 percent left to brother John.

Michael Powell and Alina Powell both contacted New York Life Insurance on Feb. 14 to request forms to make claims on their brother's and nephews' life insurance policies.The insurer has since asked a U.S. District Court to sort out who, if anyone, is entitled to the money. The cases is pending.

Michael Powell became increasingly vocal in the cases of his brother and father before his brother and nephews died.

On a website created in January called "4thekidzz", which has since been taken down, Michael Powell wrote that he didn't believe law enforcement has evidence to support voyeurism charges against his father, Steve Powell.

"Laws in the state of Washington are very lax, such that there is no requirement to present evidence for an arrest until months into a criminal proceeding. This is why they have been able to keep my father jailed for months now without evidence," Michael Powell wrote. He claimed law enforcement fabricated charges to "inflict maximum damage to the Powell family's reputation and long-term financial situation."

The "4thekidzz" website included links to news stories about the case and a lengthy essay authored by Michael Powell about police's "lack of credibility," "incompetence" and "malice."

Michael Powell wrote that police have overlooked other leads in Susan Powell's case, including the possibility that missing Utah man Steven Koecher is involved in Susan Powell's disappearance. He also named his sister, Jennifer Graves; Chuck Cox; and Tim Peterson, who was a member of Susan and Josh Powell's LDS Church ward in West Valley City, as people police should be investigating. Peterson and Michael Powell clashed in the early days of the Susan Powell case in 2009, when Peterson went to the couple's home to retrieve a swing set he had given the Powell children. Peterson yelled at Michael Powell, who was there to help his brother move back to Washington, because he felt Josh Powell had not been cooperative with police.

A voice message left on Michael Powell's cell phone in Minneapolis was not returned Wednesday.

Michael Powell enrolled at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010. According to the university's website, http://www.umn.edu, he is listed as a "graduate school trainee" in biomedical engineering.

West Valley City police Sgt. Mike Powell, no relation, said Wednesday that contacting other jurisdictions, like the Minneapolis Police Department, is a standard protocol of investigations. He reiterated that the department has never named any suspects in the case of Susan Powell.

"We've been saying that anybody that might have any information, we would definitely be interested in speaking with those people. Why wouldn't we speak with family members? That would only make sense," he said of Michael Powell. He declined to speak to whether and how Michael Powell factors into the department's investigation or conversations had with Minneapolis police.

Nielsen's comments on Monday piqued curiosity about who else police are examining as the case into Susan Powell's disappearance continues. Nielsen responded to questions about whether the police department could have arrested Josh Powell on suspicion of kidnapping, murder, or obstruction of justice, after a Washington court judge ordered search warrants unsealed that indicated blood was found in the Powell home and a note in a safety deposit box left by Susan Powell that indicated she feared for her life.

"What would we have to arrest him on?" Nielsen asked Monday, referring to Josh Powell. "The probable cause? And then we'd go to court and lose it or plead to a lesser offense? He'd be out and still do what he'd done."

"The question is, what happened to Susan? Because we represent Susan," Nielsen said. "Where is she? What happened? Who else was involved? And who refuses to help us in finding that?"

A reporter then asked Nielsen: "Steve?"

Nielsen then shrugged his shoulders, nodded his head and said, "A few others probably, too."

Michael Powell unsuccessfully ran for a state representative seat in the Washington state's District Two, according to the Washington Election Authority website at http://vote-wa.org. In 2008, he served as a Democratic National Convention Delegate for Barack Obama.

Powell listed biographical information on his profile that included serving five years in the U.S. Army, where he attained the rank of sergeant and was honorably discharged on Nov. 2, 2007. During his time in the military, he worked in military intelligence as a signals analyst and later as a human intelligence collector, his profile states.

He graduated from the Defense Language Institute and is fluent in Korean; he also studied intelligence operations at Coshise College in Arizona. He earned a bachelor's degree in Asian Studies with a Korean focus at the University of Washington.

Michael Powell did not attend Washington funeral services for his nephews, Braden and Charlie, in February. A Powell family member said at the time that Michael Powell could not return because of work and school obligations.

Michael Powell traveled to Utah to see his brother a week after his sister-in-law went missing in 2009.

mrogers@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mrogers_trib

Crime • Josh Powell's brother, Michael, has been critical of police.
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