Feb. 9, 2012 -- Josh Powell, the husband of a missing Utah woman who killed himself and his two young sons last week, was a disturbed adolescent who threatened and hit his mother, according to 1992 court documents obtained by ABC News.
The documents, filed during the divorce of Josh Powell's parents in Washington state, Steven and Terrica Powell, include several statements by Terrica Powell describing her son's disturbing behavior.
Terrica Powell wrote that her son once tried to commit suicide and also threatened her with a butcher knife. On other occasions, he and one of his brothers pushed and hit her, she wrote.
Learn more about Josh Powell and Susan Powell on "Sins of the Father" on "20/20" Friday at 10 p.m. ET.
The butcher knife incident, Terrica Powell wrote, was the result of her asking her son to do the dishes.
"I felt extreme fear when Josh made a veiled threat at me with a butcher knife in his hand. His demeanor was menacing for a moment as he said, 'Don't push it, mom,'" Powell wrote. "… I was terrified and left the room to go downstairs…"
Terrica Powell has declined an interview request with ABC News.
A lawyer for Chuck and Judy Cox, the parents of Powell's missing wife, Susan Powell, echoed the allegations about the butcher knife and the suicide attempt. Lawyer Stephen Downing told "20/20" co-anchor Chris Cuomo that Josh Powell tried to kill himself by hanging.
"He was very troubled," Downing said.
Terrica Powell worried that Josh and another teenage brother could destroy their family, which included younger siblings, she wrote in a statement filed in court.
The Powell family became a subject of national interest in 2009 when Josh Powell's wife, Susan Powell, went missing.
Josh Powell was the only named person-of-interest in Susan Powell's disappearance, but he was never charged. He continually denied involvement in his wife's disappearance and later moved himself and his sons to live with his father, Steven Powell -- Terrica Powell's ex-husband -- in Washington state.
The couple's two sons were placed in the custody of Susan Powell's parents after Steven Powell was arrested on charges of voyeurism and child pornography in September 2011. Steven Powell has denied the charges.
A judge ruled earlier this month that Josh Powell could not have custody of his sons until he underwent a psycho-sexual evaluation.
Powell and his sons died in an explosion Powell ignited in his home during a supervised visit with his sons. Powell locked a social worker out of the home before the explosion.