SALT LAKE CITY — The father-in-law of a Utah mother missing for nearly two years said Friday authorities seized computers and journals during an extensive hours-long search of his Washington state home.
"They went through every room in the house, the garage, even the crawl space," Steve Powell told The Associated Press. "They just left piles of things everywhere. They took a lot of stuff."
The renewed effort over the past week in the search for Susan Cox Powell came as the case spiraled into an emotional saga pitting one side of her family against the other. The Powell family has throughout the investigation claimed they believe Susan Powell ran off with another man. Her family, however, has just been praying she's still alive, and has pleaded with her husband, Josh, to cooperate with authorities, who say he's been evasive.
Josh Powell is the only person of interest in his wife's disappearance, but he has not been charged or detained and denies killing his wife or knowing anything about where she is.
His father, Steve Powell, claimed in a nationally televised interview Thursday that he had a flirtatious relationship with his daughter-in-law, that they were in love – something her parents adamantly denied, saying Steve Powell initiated unwanted sexual advances toward her.
On Thursday, authorities from Utah converged on the Powell's home in Puyallup, Wash., searching for journals from everyone, including Susan Powell, Steve Powell and Josh Powell, Steve Powell said.
He said they seized every computer in the home.
"They took the whole computers. They didn't just take hard drives," Steve Powell said. "They had a warrant, I guess, to pick up the journals and any electronic media that may have had the journals on them."
Powell said authorities also seized thumb drives, CDs and paper journals from the home.
Police have declined to comment on what they were seeking or what they found.
"We came here looking for specific things, and some of those things we've been able to find," West Valley City, Utah, police Lt. Bill Merritt said Thursday night. He called the evidence collected "very, very important" to the investigation.
The Powell family has been portraying Susan as promiscuous and emotionally unstable and had been offering as proof several diary pages from the missing woman's teenage years. Her family says the entries were written by a young girl and have no bearing on the 28-year-old's disappearance. A Washington state court on Friday granted a temporary restraining order sought by her family, prohibiting the Powells from disseminating the journal entries.
It's the latest in a flurry of action in the case that had appeared to stall until recently. On Tuesday, a court commissioner in Washington state ordered Susan Powell's father, Chuck Cox, and Josh Powell to keep 500 feet apart. That move came just days after authorities wrapped up a search for evidence in a network of abandoned mines outside Ely, Nev. They found nothing new.
Josh Powell said Friday he would not allow Susan Powell's parents to "stop the truth from getting out" by keeping him from disseminating her journal entries.
"Susan is not ashamed of anything in her journals," he told the AP.
Cox family attorney Anne Bremner said the Powells are making a terrible situation even worse.
"What they're doing is adding such horrible angst to her parents that we have to stop this," Bremner said Friday. "It's gone from just bizarre to just unbearable for the family."
Josh Powell continues to say he believes his wife is alive, and is frustrated that "people aren't searching for Susan."
"I'm still thinking she left," Steve Powell added. "Hopefully they'll be able to find her at some point ... We don't believe she's dead."
Police say Josh Powell has refused to answer questions about a supposed midnight camping trip he said he took with the couple's sons – then ages 4 and 2 – in the mountains west of Salt Lake City the night before Susan Powell was reported missing. She was last seen by her husband Dec. 6, 2009, in her West Valley City home outside Salt Lake City. She was reported missing the next day when she didn't show up for work.
Chuck Cox, has never said he believes his son-in-law is responsible for Susan's disappearance, but wants him to be more forthcoming with police. He said Susan Powell never had feelings for Steve Powell and "wanted as far away from him as possible."
He said his family remains hopeful, but they are preparing "for the worst."
Associated Press writers Mike Baker contributed to this report from Puyallup, Wash., Jennifer Dobner from Salt Lake City.