The sixth season of HLN’s longest running Original Series How It Really Happened with Hill Harper is premiering Sunday, March 14 at 9 pm to 11 pm with the disturbing case of missing Utah mom Susan Powell.
On the morning of December 7th, 2009, Susan’s sister-in-law Jennifer Graves received a call that Susan’s two little boys had failed to show up for daycare. After attempting to reach both Susan and her husband Josh, Jennifer notified the police that something might be amiss. When police arrived and no one answered the door, Jennifer began to worry that the family may have been victims of carbon monoxide poisoning and urged the police to break in to see if anyone was inside.
The police shattered a window only to find that the house was empty. However, two box fans were set up in the living room and were blowing what appeared to be a massive wet spot on the couch and carpeted floor. The police soon discovered that Susan had failed to show up for work that morning as well, but her purse—which contained her wallet and all forms of identification— was left behind in her bedroom.
Jennifer called her brother, Josh, and asked him where he was and whether or not Susan was with him. Despite there being a blizzard just the day before, Josh claimed that he had taken his two young boys, four-year-old Charlie and two-year-old Braden, camping near Simpson Springs in western Utah and that Susan had opted to stay home. Although Jennifer revealed that his wife was seemingly missing, Josh did not return home with his kids until 5 pm that evening. Upon his arrival, Josh alleged that he called his wife several times and left her voicemails asking where she was. Yet, when investigators searched the Chrysler minivan that Josh had been driving, Susan’s cellphone was found sitting blatantly in the passenger seat. With suspicions at an all time high, Josh was taken into police custody for questioning.
As part of the series’ two-hour premiere, the first episode of How It Really Happened provides thorough coverage of what occurred immediately following Susan’s disappearance. However, in what quickly becomes a sequence of increasingly terrifying and unexpected events, the mystery of what happened to Susan evolves into a tightly woven web of secrets and lies involving Josh and his father, Steven Powell.
By the time the second episode begins, it becomes abundantly clear that Susan’s disappearance was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of dysfunction and tragedy in the Powell family. Several weeks after his wife went missing, Josh moved to Puyallup, Washington with his boys and began living with Steven. In 2010, Josh and his father began making claims that Susan had run off with Steven Koecher— another man who had vanished in the same week that she did. Even though Susan and Koecher had no connection to one another, Josh held onto the theory and attempted to create a smear campaign against his wife.
Then, in a chilling turn of events, investigators began focusing their attention toward Steven and his behavior with Susan while she and Josh were staying with him several years prior. Josh grew more and more agitated as his father was scrutinized by authorities, especially when his two children were taken away from him and placed in foster care by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. Susan’s parents, Chuck and Judy Cox received temporary custody of the boys and Josh was granted supervised visitations. In addition to the shocking discoveries that came out regarding Steven, the tragedy permeated even deeper through the Powell-Cox families.
How It Really Happened offers exclusive interviews with Josh’s sister, Jennifer, Susan’s father Chuck Cox, as well as the Cox family attorney and individuals who have worked on the investigation from 2009 to today. Although Susan has not been found and her case has technically run cold, her family continues to actively search for her in hopes of finally reaching some closure a decade later.
To watch the whole story unfold, you can catch this episode of How It Really Happened with Hill Harper on HLN on Sunday March 14 at 9 pm to 11 pm ET/PT! It is important to note that there should be a content warning for this episode due to the discussion of child pornography and child molestation.