Friends and Family Allege Susan Powell Was Abused by Husband

Friends and family allege Susan Powell was abused by Joshua Powell.

January 4, 2010, 7:27 AM

Feb. 17, 2010— -- Friends and family members of a missing Utah woman, Susan Powell, say the young mother was abused by her husband and question why Joshua Powell has not done more to help the investigation.

At a press conference Monday, family friend and spokesperson Shelby Gifford said Susan Powell told a family member about one instance of violence.

"We can say, without reservation, that Susan was a victim of domestic abuse within her own home," Gifford said.

The 28-year-old mother of two young boys has been missing since Dec. 6, 2009, but Joshua Powell, 34, has refused to help in the investigation and remains the only person of interest.

Gifford said Jennifer Graves, Joshua Powell's sister, and her husband recently visited Joshua in Washington state, where he now lives, to spend time with the children. But when Graves confronted her brother about his wife's disappearance, Joshua asked her to leave his house.

Tuesday, Graves publicly questioned her brother's behavior on the "Dr. Phil Show," saying she hopes he did not commit a crime but "the truth is going to come out eventually."

"The thing that has bothered me the most about Josh's behavior is that he has been uncooperative with the police in giving them any details. He also has been very neglected to participate in the media. That's our biggest tool in helping find Susan. You're [the] husband, there's more that you can do. So get up and do it," Graves said.

At a press conference Monday to announce a foundation in Susan Powell's name, her friends and family said it wasn't until they spoke to each other that they put together what they believe are the missing pieces of Susan Powell's life.

Some alleged that Joshua would not let his wife have her own car key and she had to get permission from him to use the family vehicle.

One said he knew of an episode of physical violence and another said Joshua would frequently change the pin numbers on their bank accounts so Susan would not have access to their money.

Gifford said, "people who were in the house with firsthand knowledge" knew that Joshua Powell would purposefully undermine his wife's parenting in front of their children.

"He would go in and get the boys out of bed and say things like, 'Mommy's so mean for making you go to bed, come on out of bed,'" Gifford said.

Joshua Powell and his attorney have refused to comment directly on the latest allegations.

In an e-mail to ABC News, his attorney said he believes supporters of Joshua Powell are preparing a response to the "untrue allegations."

Joshua Powell Moved to Washington State

Friends and family said they were surprised when Joshua Powell began to pack up the family's belongings and move out of state.

Last month, police told ABC News there was nothing they could do to prevent Joshua Powell from relocating about 800 miles away in Washington state.

"Josh has been free to come and go," West Valley City Assistant Police Chief Craig Black said. "And we're still waiting for Josh to cooperate with us and talk with us."

Susan Powell was reported missing the day after Joshua Powell packed up the couple's young sons for a middle-of-the-night camping trip in below-freezing temperatures. It was a trip, her family has since said, that Susan Powell would have never allowed.

Police have said repeatedly that Powell has hampered the investigation by refusing to answer several questions. Investigators have been out to the area where Powell reportedly took the boys. But they have not found any evidence to corroborate his story and said he would not show them the exact camping location.

Investigators said they have uncovered an e-mail from Susan Powell in which she tells friends that her marriage is troubled.

Joshua Powell hired noted Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney Scott Williams as attention turned on him.

Williams has previously told ABC News that Powell was not going to comment and that Powell would rather keep the focus on the search for his wife.

Susan Powell's family launched a public relations blitz on social networking sites last month with the hope that someone has additional clues.

The family has posted new videos and pictures on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, hoping to add to the dozens of new leads West Valley City police say they've been getting.

CLICK HERE to view the Susan Powell video on YouTube.

Anyone with information regarding the case can call West Valley City police at (801) 840-4000.

ABC News' Sarah Netter contributed to this report.

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