OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Utah investigators handling the case of missing mother Susan Powell examined her father-in-law's cell phone, calendar and emails earlier this year – more than two years after she disappeared.

Records obtained by The Associated Press under Washington state public records laws indicate that authorities made little effort to explore Steve Powell's activities after Susan Powell disappeared in December 2009, even though her family has long suggested that he might know something about where she is. They only began the more intensive effort in April of this year after a former co-worker of Steven Powell's said he had talked about traveling to Utah in the weeks close to when she went missing.

Investigators had largely focused their time on Susan Powell's husband, Josh, who killed himself and the couple's two young children earlier this year. Utah investigators said they can't discuss details of the case, but Washington state officials have said they believe Josh Powell killed his wife. They also say his father may know more about the disappearance than he's letting on.

Anne Bremner, an attorney for Susan Powell's parents, said they had expressed those concerns from the beginning about Steve Powell.

The family's concerns were exacerbated by how Steve Powell had acted around Susan Powell. And they escalated to a new level in the summer of 2011, when a search warrant at the home where Steve and Josh Powell lived found journals and photos suggesting that Steve Powell had an extremely sexual and emotional draw to his daughter-in-law.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that some 4,500 images in a folder dedicated to Susan Powell included shots of her out in public, apparently unaware that a camera was focused on her. Steve Powell wrote in journals that he took sexual pleasure in looking at videos and images he captured of her.

"Oh my god, those journals. I couldn't read them all," Bremner said. "The fact that Steven had that amazingly bizarre obsession with Susan – chronicled page after page – that alone would make him somebody you'd want to look that."

Sgt. Mike Powell, a spokesman for the police department in West Valley City, Utah, said he can't discuss details of the investigation but noted that the agency has spent countless hours on the case. The investigation remains active, though Powell said investigators have reduced their focus on the case.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, who oversaw the voyeurism case against Steve Powell in Washington state, said Powell likely knows more than he's telling but that he's not a reliable person even if he did speak. Powell is in prison serving his voyeurism sentence and could be released as early as May.

"Barring new evidence emerging, we're done with Mr. Powell," Lindquist said.

Utah investigators say that Steve Powell has not cooperated with the Susan Powell investigation, but that still didn't initially trigger a more thorough assessment of him. In fact, an investigator said in one email obtained by AP that they did not take Steve Powell's cell phone or mobile internet card during the 2011 search at his home.

In early April 2012, a co-worker of Steve Powell's went public with her recollection that he talked about going on a snowy camping trip with his son and grandchildren in Utah around the time Susan Powell disappeared. She had previously emailed authorities about that conversation.

The day after Jennifer Silva told her story to AP, detectives in Utah began checking with officials at the Washington state Department of Corrections, where Powell had worked around the time Susan Powell disappeared. They began asking where Steve Powell was assigned and what clients he was working with in December 2009.

Susan Powell was last seen on Sunday, December 6 of 2009. Steve Powell's work calendar is blank the following day, and he took sick leave the two days after.

Investigators also expanded their assessment of Steve Powell in April 2012, analyzing his phone and SIM card. Investigators also explicitly asked for his emails from 2009.

The AP first requested those emails, which are public record, in 2011.

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  • Father Kills Sons And Self

    Pierce County sheriff's deputies and Graham firefighters work through the wreckage of a home in Graham, Wash. where the bodies of Josh Powell and his two sons were found on Feb. 5, 2012 in a double-homicide suicide. The boys had just been brought by a Child Protective Services worker to Powell's home for a supervised visit when police say the dad deliberately blew up the house. A judge had denied the previous week a request by Powell to regain custody of his sons, who had been living with the parents of his missing wife, Susan.

  • Pierce County sheriff's officials said it appears Josh Powell used an accelerant to increase the power of a gas fire that he intentionally set to kill himself and his two sons inside his Graham, Wash., home on Feb. 5, 2012. The saga of the Powell family began in 2009 when Josh Powell reported that his wife, Susan, had gone missing. That night he claimed he took his sons on an overnight camping trip in freezing temperatures.

  • Aerial View Of Josh Powell's Home

    The explosion at Josh Powell's home left smoldering remains in Graham, Wash. Police say Powell deliberately detonated the home moments after a Child Protective Services worker brought his sons Braden, 5, and Charles, 7, for a supervised visit.

  • Braden And Charlie Powell

    This undated photo provided by Chuck and Judy Cox shows their grandsons Braden, left, and Charlie Powell. (AP Photo/Courtesy Chuck and Judy Cox)

  • Chuck Cox, Braden Powell, Charlie Powell

    This undated photo provided by Chuck and Judy Cox shows them with their grandsons, Charlie, left, and Braden, right. Charlie and Braden were killed along with their father, Josh Powell, on Sunday in what police said was an intentional fire set by Powell. The Coxes are the parents of Powell's wife, Susan, who has been missing since 2009. (AP Photo/Courtesy Chuck and Judy Cox)

  • Braden And Charlie Powell

    This undated photo provided by Chuck and Judy Cox shows Braden, left, and Charlie Powell. (AP Photo/Courtesy Chuck and Judy Cox)

  • Police and other officials from Washington state and Utah view charred rubble, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, at of the home where Josh Powell and his two sons were killed in the fire Powell set Sunday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • In this pool photo provided by the Pierce County Sheriff's Dept., a melted gas can is marked with an evidence flag, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, in the rubble of the home in Graham, Wash., where Josh Powell and his two sons were killed. (AP Photo/Pierce County Sheriff's Dept., Ed Troyer, Pool)

  • Susan Cox Powell

    This image from<a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-and-Family-of-Susan-Cox-Powell/158207040909324" target="_hplink"> Friends and Family of Susan Cox Powell</a> Facebook page shows missing Utah mother Susan Cox Powell. Powell has been missing since December 6, 2009. Her husband Josh Powell was a person of interest in her disappearance before he killed himself and their two sons on Feb. 5, 2012.

  • Chuck And Judy Cox

    Chuck and Judy Cox, the parents of missing Utah mother Susan Cox, talk to reporters at their home in Puyallup, Wash., Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. They had custody of their grandchildren, Charlie and Braden Powell, who were killed by their father Josh Powell during a supervised visit to his house on Sunday. Their daughter Susan Cox Powell went missing in December 2009 from the West Valley City, Utah home where she lived with her husband and sons. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • Candlelight Vigil

    Supporters held an impromptu candlelight vigil for Braden and Charlie Powell, who were killed by their father Josh when he deliberately torched his Graham, Wash. home on Feb. 5, 2012. The brothers had been living with their maternal grandparents in a simmering custody dispute stemming from their mother's disappearance in Utah in 2009.

  • Flowers and two stuffed animals are left near crime-scene tape, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, near the home where Josh Powell and his two sons were killed Sunday, in Graham, Wash., in what police said appeared to be a deliberately set fire. Powell's wife Susan went mysteriously missing from their West Valley City, Utah, home in December 2009. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • Mourners posted signs and lit candles at Carson Elementary School in Puyallup, Wash. where Braden and Charles Powell attended school. The brothers were killed in an explosion caused by their father Josh Powell at his home on Feb. 5, 2012 -- days after a judge denied his request to regain custody of them.

  • A Pierce County fire investigator works his way through charred rubble, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, at the home where Josh Powell and his two sons were killed Sunday, in Graham, Wash., in what police said appeared to be a deliberately set fire. Powell's wife Susan went mysteriously missing from their West Valley City, Utah, home in December 2009. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • Josh And Braden Powell

    In this Aug. 19, 2011 photo, Josh Powell plays with his son Braden in a park near his home, in Puyallup, Wash. Powell had long been a person of interest in his wife. (Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Friday, August 19, 2011)

  • This photo from Facebook shows Susan Cox Powell in December of 2008.

  • A flier seeking information on the whereabouts of Susan Powell, who was reported missing Dec. 7, 2009, in Utah, is shown, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009, at a press conference in Puyallup, Wash. Powell's family said Thursday they are saddened but not surprised that her husband Josh Powell has been named a person of interest in the investigation.

  • Josh Powell

    Josh Powell, the husband of Susan Powell, stands with supporters after a candle light vigil for his wife at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Puyallup, Wash., Sunday Dec. 20, 2009.

  • Judy Cox, the mother of Susan Powell, who was reported missing Dec. 7, 2009, in Utah, becomes emotional during a press conference, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009, in Puyallup, Wash. Powell's family said Thursday they are saddened but not surprised that her husband Josh Powell has been named a person of interest in the investigation.

  • Charlie Powell

    This undated photo provided by Chuck and Judy Cox shows Charlie Powell, who was killed along with his brother Braden by their father Josh Powell in a double-murder suicide. (AP Photo/Courtesy Chuck and Judy Cox)

  • Braden Powell With HIs Grandmother Judy Cox

    In this undated photo provided by Chuck and Judy Cox, Judy Cox, right, sits at a table with her grandson Braden. (AP Photo/Courtesy Chuck and Judy Cox)

  • Braden Powell

    This undated photo provided by Chuck and Judy Cox shows Braden Powell. (AP Photo/Courtesy Chuck and Judy Cox)

  • Chuck Cox With Grandsons Charlie And Braden Powell

    In this undated photo provided by Chuck and Judy Cox, Chuck Cox sits with his grandsons, Charlie, left, and Braden, right, at the Coxes home in Pullayup, Wash. (AP Photo/Courtesy Chuck and Judy Cox)

  • Chuck Cox With Braden And Charlie Powell

    In this undated photo provided by Chuck and Judy Cox, Chuck Cox plays with his grandsons, Charlie, right, and Braden, left. (AP Photo/Courtesy Chuck and Judy Cox)