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Families of Missing Utah Mom, Husband Battle Over Release of Diary Pages

 

The father of a Utah mother who has been missing for two years said Monday he will fight the release of pages from her diary. But the family of her husband Josh Powell, who is under a cloud of suspicion in her disappearance, said the pages show she had tried to commit suicide as a teen and could have walked away from her family, as they suspect.

The debate comes days after authorities searched a sprawling network of abandoned mines outside Ely, Nev., but didn't reveal any new evidence. The renewed interest into Susan Cox Powell's disappearance comes as both families have publicly traded accusations over her fate.

Chuck Cox, Susan's father, and Steve Powell, Josh's father, argued loudly in front of reporters and television cameras in Puyallup, Wash., on Saturday. The families are scheduled to meet in court Tuesday, with Josh Powell requesting a restraining order against Cox.

The family of Josh Powell, whom authorities have called a person of interest in his wife's disappearance, is backing up assertions that Susan ran off with another man in December 2009, leaving her husband and two sons, by saying that pages from her diary prove she had a history of erratic behavior. The family initially released the documents to KTVX in Salt Lake City (http://bit.ly/qS3qN0 ).

As sent to The Associated Press on Monday by Josh's sister, Alina Powell, the two journal entries -- seven handwritten pages on what appears to be school notebook paper -- details events from Susan's life in 1996 and 1998. In the email, Steve Powell contends the documents prove, "Susan is a lot more vulnerable emotionally than Chuck and Judy Cox would like people to believe."

Cox objects to the release of information from his daughter's journals.

"They don't have authority to do it," he said. "If she is alive, which they claim, she then still maintains control over her writings, copyright wise. If they publish it, I'm prepared to take action. I have an attorney and we're waiting."

Cox said that the information already released by the Powells comes from when his daughter was a teenager.

In one passage, the television station reports, Josh Powell claims that Susan had written she had "taken 10 Ibuprofen" but then later stated she "wasn't trying to kill herself."

Steve Powell, according to the TV station, said this information shows "that Susan led a double-life from the time she was 13, 14, or possibly even 12."

Cox said he believes Susan was about 13 at the time of the incident, which his family recalls involving about six pills of the over-the-counter headache medication. Cox said his daughter was taken to an emergency room as a precaution, but was released. A health policy in place at the time required a social worker visit after such an incident, he said.

"They concluded that she was not suicidal," he said. "In Steve's mind, that proves that she was."

In the journal entry about the incident, Susan wrote that she was repeatedly being asked if she had been trying to commit suicide. "No!!!" the journal entry states.

The AP could not independently verify the validity of the documents and Chuck Cox didn't immediately return an email Monday evening.

West Valley City police Sgt. Mike Powell, who is not related to the Powell family, said Monday that police wouldn't comment on the journal entries.

Susan Powell was last seen at her home on Dec. 6, 2009. She was reported missing the next day when she failed to show up for her job in West Valley City, Utah.

Alina Powell says her family has cooperated with the FBI, and will continue to do so, but they have nothing new to contribute. She said the family allowed its Puyallup home to be searched last year without a warrant.

Authorities haven't contacted the family for over a year "and we have sent things as recently as few months ago, when we think of thing that may be leads," she said.

Alina Powell says her brother has already attempted to cooperate with police.

"Josh spoke extensively to police but when they began lying to him he said, `I guess I need an attorney.' They haven't called us since then. We haven't seen or heard from the West Valley City police," she said.

She also says Josh would be willing to speak with the FBI -- as long as they pay his lawyer's fees.

Josh Powell recently told the Salt Lake Tribune that he is willing to talk with federal authorities, but not West Valley City police. He told the newspaper that he considered the search in Ely an opportunity for authorities to set him up.

"It occurred to me," he said, according to the paper, "they were planting something in Ely so they could magically show it to the media."

The FBI Utah office's spokeswoman, Debbie Dujanovic Bertram, declined comment Monday. And a message left for Josh Powell's Salt Lake City attorney, Scott Williams, was not immediately returned.

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