This podcast discusses domestic violence, criminal behavior, murder and adult themes, while not explicit listener discretion is advised. U.S. Marshal Daryl Spencer never expected the Susan Powell investigation to end up in his lap. I don't really suspect anything was going to come of this, you know, was quite a while from the time she went missing.
But about six months into the investigation, West Valley City Police enlisted Daryl's help.
They were headed to Washington to surveil Josh Powell over Mother's Day in order for West Valley officers to travel out of state and carry guns.
They had to do it under the US Marshals special deputization. So I got involved in the case primarily as as like the dad to take the team up there so that they can successfully operate.
That operation culminated in a consent search of Steve Powles Southdale Home, which I described in Episode nine of Cold. But I didn't explain exactly why Josh and Steve Powell agreed to let police into their home without a search warrant. Daryl Spencer was the reason. The FBI's mobile tracking order for Josh Powell's minivan had expired. The law required that the feds serve Josh with notice that they had hidden that GPS device on his minivan.
They also had to remove it. I had come up with the idea, but let me take it up there. I'll knock on the door. We'll see if you'll answer the door. And let's tell him that I'm a U.S. marshal and we're trying to turn this into a missing persons investigation instead of West Valley just coming after Steve Powell.
That's just what Darrell did. Josh was suspicious.
You know, he started on me through the door, like, who is it? And I sat down with the US Marshals, you know, can you come talk to me for a second? And he's very hesitant to come to the door immediately. Are you a reporter? Just said, no, I'm not a reporter. I had my kids out and I said, hey, if you'll just pick out the window, I'll show you my creds like I'm here for the right reasons.
I said, I just want to have a conversation with you. So reluctantly, he did come to the door. He ate it up. He was like, yes, come on, come on. And so he invites me in the house. I tell him that I'm working very closely with the US Attorney's Office out of the district of Utah. I make up some stories about how funding comes in and about how I need to make sure that we're being honest with each other.
And I ask him for consent to search the house and he doesn't want to give it to me. He's telling me that, you know, I can't really let you do that. And I just said, well, you've got to meet me halfway. You need to show me that you're willing to work with me.
Josh and Steve argued about the idea before finally calling Josh's defense attorney, Scott Williams.
I'm like, yeah, let's give him a call. And so, you know, Steve, Josh calls them, gets him on the phone and just says, hey, I've got a US marshal on my house. And I can I can hear Scott tell him to leave right now, of course. But any any defense attorney, he's going to say Steven's up on the phone, pulls the phone from Josh, ends up on the phone. He's trying to control the situation.
They're kind of talking to me. I can tell that he's talking, Steve, out of this like like I'm losing ground here. And so I'm just trying to be super calm. And and I said, well, would it make you feel better if I talked to him? And so he's like, yeah, you talk to him. So I get on the phone with the attorney and I'll never forget. He tells me he's like, you know, if my client stole a candy bar, I'll give you the same advice.
He's like, you need to leave the house. And I'm like, that sounds great. I'm like, thank you. That's OK. Thank you. And he's like Darrell Issa. He knows what I'm doing on the other side of the door. So I'm just trying to have them here that this conversation is going really well. And he's like, Darrell, you know, that I cannot advise my clients to I'm not going to tell them to be concerned.
And I'm like, that's great, Mike, thank you so much. And I said, well, we all know that it's up to your client for the final word. And I said, so I'll just have direct communications with them and we'll we'll figure out the best way to do this. And he's like, Darrell, I have a great day. I'm like, feel free to call back if you need to talk to them again. And so hang up the phone, John.
I think we're good to go. This is a bonus episode of Cold Marshal misdirection. I'm Dave Colly. Darryl Spencer's interactions with Josh and Steve Powell were good cop, bad cop on a grand scheme.
I had told Steve and Josh that I had grabbed a bunch of US marshals and task force officers from the Seattle office. And so I really had a bunch of West Valley cops that were there, but I did not want them to know that they hated West Valley, as you can imagine. So I'm just like, look, I just I just grabbed a hodgepodge of marshals and task force officers up here. I said they're going to help me so that we're not here all day.
It would take me it would take me hours and hours. I said, we want to get this done.
So I bring them in and I'm kind of just trying to hang out with Josh and Steve and keep them talking, keep them comfortable. The task force officers who are actually West Valley cops come in and, you know, they start to search the house and everything and they're walking around and they're about North and West Valley, you know, and I've got a West Valley guy standing and I'm just like, you know, they're just the shabbiest agency. I said as federal agents, we don't even work with them.
We just I understand where you're coming from. And, you know, there's just we just have had the hardest time with them as well. So I understand they're just eat it up. It was it was lawyers and a very good friend of mine who's always valley cop along with every day I'm just bad mouth and West Valley, right along with Josh and Steve. And he looks I mean, he just patted him on the back. I'm like, let's get to work, Todd.
You know, Daryl's efforts to build rapport with Josh and Steve Baure immediate fruit. No sooner had the police left the house on that day in May 2010. Then Steve reached out.
We finished and we got back together. We went to this little pizza joint just outside of Puyallup. And Steve was already blowing up my phone with requests and trying to like, help me out and give me ideas and stuff like this. And he called me and I was floored because we were eating dinner. And I mean I mean, Josh is calling me already and it's only been an hour.
Darryl had secured Josh's permission to search the grounds of the Sierra Circle House in West Valley. And he calls me and he asked me if I could move some chairs for him while I was there. And I was like, sure, what do you need done? And he had some chairs in one part of the backyard that he wanted moved into the shed. And I was like, OK, no problem. So he's, you know, he's already thinking we're we're pretty good friends.
He used that friendship to look inside the shed hoping to find any evidence.
You we do an initial search and of course, we're looking for a disturbed ground to see if maybe something would have been buried. We didn't find anything at all interesting. But what I did find in that shed up on a raft up above, someone had etched with a knife and said, here lies death, which was obviously somewhat concerning. I called the renters immediately and just said, hey, do you know this is here? Do you know anything about this?
And she's like, yeah, we've seen it. But it was here when I moved in and nothing came of it. I don't know why it was there. I don't know who put it there. There was no, no, no empirical evidence that I could find that there was anything buried. There was nothing disturbed. Like you could see the flooring in the shed. It's like very old. A bigger issue soon arose Daryl's involvement with the Powell case was a bit atypical.
Marshals more often hunt down fugitives in far flung locations across the globe, then investigate municipal missing persons cases. Darryl was juggling fugitive task force duties.
He had traveled to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands to help take down a wanted drug cartel member.
And while I'm getting ready to do this, hit Powell blowing up my phone and I'm literally we're getting ready to take down a cartel member. Got Powell blowing up my phone. And I don't want to miss these phone calls. And so I've got, you know, the teammates that I work for, the SWAT team, was like, hey, this is super important. I got to take this call. And he's like, hurry, we got to go.
This is Josh. I've got that airbag problem. So I end up talking with Lewis Powell and he's extremely frustrated because he knows that we went with the tracker was getting pulled, that we had we had messed something up in the van and that he wanted me to fix it. And I said, you know, let me reach out to West Valley. We'll see what we can do. And he was he was extremely upset by that.
Hello. Hey, Josh, just who is calling? This is Darrell, Darrell Issa with the U.S. Marshals. Yes, Josh Brown. Are you he's kind of in the middle of something. And I haven't called you back in here. Yeah, he's got my number. It is about here that he was wondering about that.
Yeah, it is an airbag warning light that illuminated on the dashboard of Josh's minivan.
Does he need to call you back on Saturday? Because I can only call you back home if you would call back in an hour or so maybe. Is that just the message they can give that job? Yeah, give it to him. I'm out of the country right now, so it's hard for me to get cell phone service. So I understand. Yeah, that makes it really hard.
I contacted Wassef Ali, you know, hey, we should resolve this issue. And they just kind of laughed at me. And I was, you know, it's fine. I get it. I get that we're in this investigation. But you got to give the get. You got to give to get. And I was like, we should fix this for him. No one like, we got we got to in his drive around this van, if there's an issue like we should fix this, like it's the right thing to do.
Hello. How. Hey, Josh, it's Darrell. Oh, hey. How's it going. Good. Good. What's going on? Did I hear that there might be something about the airbag or. Oh yeah. We're going to get it fixed. It's just going to take a few days, mostly because of the holiday weekend.
As Darrell saw, the airbag issue was a way to build trust and to keep Josh talking. But he found himself standing alone on an island.
Hey, is Josh there? Oh, yeah. Hey, Josh, it's Daryl. How are you doing? Oh, hey. Good. How are you? Good.
I felt like I was having more positive communications with Josh and Steve than I was with some of the attorneys last year and some of the other players involved. So it was frustrating.
So I have a pretty good news, but probably not as good of news as you'd like to hear. OK, so they're definitely going to fix the airbag, but you have to fill out a claim and I can't even begin to tell you how much headache I've gone through trying to get this through. So first thing tomorrow morning, what is the claim that like a very difficult process for Josh and Steve had good reason to keep up their end of the conversation?
They wanted Daryl's help prying Josh's digital data free from the clutches of West Valley police.
They were trying to kind of use me as a proxy. They wanted like there was a guy there was going to give us what we want. And the whole time they wanted those hard drives back there.
One of those computers, I need to bring them up to Josh, because the way the whole thing worked is normally West Valley just won't give property like this to anyone. So they've kind of got out on a limb.
Josh grew tired of this game in short order. That is when Steve stepped in.
If you want to, you know, if you want to get together, Josh is a little hesitant because of the situation he's in, but I like that at all. OK, you know, I mean, you know, I mean, obviously, you know, it's kind of cool. Well, to be honest with you, I'm extremely interested and I would love to hear what you have to say.
Steve soon became the proxy. He wanted to communicate with me instead of Josh. You wanted to be in charge of the communications, which were fine. Steve was extremely fascinating to talk to. It was. Yeah, it was. I always thought dark and like I needed a shower. I figure not fun with him.
You know, I could go look at the FBI stuff, but I'd rather start fresh. I'd rather sit down and talk with you and Josh and really hear about what you guys think should be done. And then we'll start exploring those avenues. So that's great. We'd like to do. I'd like to do that. Yeah, so he took over the phone calls and he didn't like what I had to say. I didn't like the direction of the conversation.
He would defer to Elaina and he would have been to stonewall me.
Hey, Steve, come on now. What about George? This is Darryl with the marshals. We met when I came up there a while ago. Sure. Let me go see if that's OK. OK, thanks. It's not that they don't like it, OK, sure, during one call, Darryl told the Powells he had a trip planned to Seattle for some other marshals business.
He wanted to drop off a disc to Josh and maybe talk to Steve.
So he reluctantly agreed to to have me come up. And I was like, I'm coming up anyway, which was not true. I was only going up there to meet him. Said just to sit down and let's just have this conversation.
You know, I mean, I understand you guys are only trying to help families, and that's wonderful. We appreciate it. Psychiatrists as outsiders to tell they're really helping this mother interrogations. I mean, it's like, you know, helping or not. Right.
If you got to go the day before us was to fly up there, he had a to call me and tell me that if I wasn't going to bring any of the computer stuff or any of the evidence or, you know, any of these other items that were seized as evidence that he did want to talk to me. And at this point in time, I had you know, I'm almost like I'm negotiating with the Powells at one level and then I'm also negotiating with West Valley.
I'm like, we got to give to get gentlemen. Come on, let's let's figure something out. The most I could get was valid to give me was a couple of family pictures on a CD. And I was like, OK, so when I called, Steve wanted to know what I was bringing. I mean, I felt like I felt like a pirate landing on the beach, like this is what we're dealing with. So I just said, you know, I've got some family photos and some stuff like that.
And he's like, well, we want to computer stuff like, I'm sorry. I just this is you know, I'm working with West Valley. And he basically tells me he's like, I'm not going to meet with you tomorrow.
And don't get me wrong, I understand where you guys are coming from. You have to be very selective because everyone you've dealt with has been poking Josh on the forehead. And I would hope by now that Josh is starting to understand it with me, working with him on the air bag and with me, you know, bringing photos up to him. I'm not going to ask him any questions. It's not going to be like last time where we want to go through the house.
There's nothing like that.
So Elaina calls me back pretty late into the night and she's like, OK, you can come up. And I'm like, I'm like, well, can I talk to Josh or Steve? And she's like, No, they're busy. They asked me to call you. Meanwhile, I can hear these two having a conversation and then, you know, their house was very small and I'm like, well, and I'm like, I can hear them talking behind you.
I said, I'm not sure the way they're using you to do the communications. And I said, that's fine. I like you. And I said, you and I you can I can you know, I'll open a dialogue with you about any part of this, any time you want. You know, you can you can talk to me whenever you want. You know that, right? You can call me and I that she's OK. And she she was pretty stonewalled.
I mean, she was just doing what Daddy had told her to do. At the beginning of July 2010, Steve reserved a conference room at the South Hill Library, the same place he had first met with West Valley detectives half a year earlier. We were supposed to meet at like one o'clock, and then, of course, he's going to be in charge of everything. So he's got to and I need to let him think he's in charge of everything or he's going to start stonewalling and he starts dancing around the times and he wants to move it and now he wants me to come earlier.
And I just said, you know, I said, I'm just here, relax. And I said, I'm just going to go grab some food. I said, just call me whenever you're ready. I got nothing going on the rest of the day. I'll play your game with yourself and let me know we're here. So when I told him that, you know, him realizing that I just was whatever, dude, he's like, all right, I'll meet you there now.
Bravo, Steve. Well played.
Darryl wore a wire to that meeting with a lot of scrutiny on how to conduct themselves and took out. So troubling for McCain about the last time we were approached by US attorney and we were asked to basically take a look at everything. And before he was in his office. Yeah, OK.
Steve wanted to know if the marshals were working for the Mormons.
I discussed it with family and not the is pretty suspicious of the Mormon Church is involved in this because frankly, they were getting all the divorce and they were married and they and most of the people that had been on the attack are Mormons here in this case, too. So they're really a kind of a vicious attack group is what they are. And, you know, even the bishop, you know, and my ex-wife, I guess a few of you know, taxi drivers and and so forth, and they sound really suspicious.
But I'll take your word for it.
Steve spoke in Rapid Fire.
I'm not sure if he took a breath the entire time he had so much information. I left him for the most part. I just listened. I let him drive that interview. I didn't really have to ask any questions. I mean, I did interject at some point, you know, here and there, but it was like a go on Peanut's.
When Steve launched into the latest revision on his theory about Susan absconding with another missing person, Steven Coacher. Suzanne left after George left, and I know she left immediately, that she probably didn't wait too long and basically she waited a couple of hours to make sure, George and I'm assuming that she and Cotchery had some kind of a mutual friend or a contact and West Valley City that may be where they met, where they could have met when she was in L.A. they were three blocks away at the governor's office as an intern.
So they had a number of places along the way. We don't know. We don't even know if they knew each other. We just silly things that Lisa and Steve claimed.
Susan and Coacher had gone first to California to get fake IDs, at least at this point.
My guess is that she probably had some identities to release any more and they needed documentation, maybe driver's licenses that didn't have Utah, that clearly didn't have the Utah drivers license and look like they look you know, I'm guessing that he probably stopped shaving on December seven and he probably has a beard. These are guesses.
Obviously, the way he was telling me the story, the way he's telling me what happened was almost like he's been rehearsing it for weeks.
I think they both went to Sacramento and I think they were there early in the afternoon and they were there on the night and on the night of December. On the 8th, I think they got married. So I saying, that's my that's my conjecture. I think I think they went over there for documentation. And he is demanding that I take a team of U.S. Marshals and almost get on a plane. And let's go to Brazil right now. And, you know, let's let's put this together in terms of your ability to manage yourself across this possible.
Not neither one of us thought were flying on or No. Never know who's shooting is of by a passport under her name. She's just about anything she's ever that I know, but I mean, I know I don't think so. I think that we probably I suppose she could have committed a felony at some point. And I don't know the whole thing. So I was like, you know, I need evidence on Brazil's a big country. I mean, that's I mean, this is a needle in a haystack.
And I can you, you know, prove to me that they're there. Show me.
In the middle of the interview, Steve's phone rang and they said, yes, Josh is here. Hello. It was Josh. Yes. I'm here in this meeting with the marshals here. But what's up? I don't know. I heard.
You haven't picked up steam up and or whatever else is just to keep them out of the police had terabytes of his digital data and Daryl had brought up a single 700 megabyte CD that was this something that we have all kinds of photos in this business that we already have anyway.
So it's like, you know, just feels like a slap in the face. It's an insult. I mean, you talk about five terabytes of data. We're sending this over. You know, that's just ridiculous.
Daryl redirected Steve back to the topic of Susan and Brazil. Show me. I said I'm going to have to take this information and I'm going to have to sell it to people who pay my bills to go places. And I said, what you give me right now is not enough. I said, this just sounds like a story at this point in time. And so he tried his best to to to prove to me that, you know, those two were in a relationship, that they were having an affair for quite some time and that they were you know, they ran away, they got married, and then they went down, you know, to went down to Brazil.
Steve tiptoed around the topic of his own lust for Susan until Darrell asked him about it. Is it true, the two of you? Yeah. Yeah, that's true. That's true. You know, girls from our mothers, their high school teachers, you know, they fall in love with their you know, it's just that it's like an infatuation and that kind of thing. So that's occurred to us and it's really changed.
I mean, Steve went on to claim without any proof that Susan had been suicidal, that she'd abused her sons and that she'd felt non-committal about her religion every Wednesday and Thursday of that.
And she's claiming that she was going to the temple frequently on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
You know, Susan would go to temple work during the week. And he told me that Susan never actually went to do that, that she was meeting with with with the Steve character. So, you know, I just took that for what it was.
Darryl's interview with Steve proved fruitless. In the days and weeks that followed.
Darryl went to work attempting to disprove the theory that Susan's disappearance was somehow linked to the Stephen Coacher case.
I was never able to confirm that she had attempted to get a passport, let alone had a passport, even under a potential alias that she might have used kind of the same thing with. Steve was never able to corroborate any passport information. I had also kind of flagged the names with the State Department. They had no record of of her leaving or coming and going from the country in any way, shape or form. So that also helped me kind of dylon, you know, possibly.
So I also read Stephen Cochairs. There was no evidence that he had left the country either. So I felt like one of those probably would have tripped up the system at some level to show that they left the country. There was no corroborating, no empirical evidence to connect Brazil to Susan's location at that point in time.
Daryl also did his due diligence with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
They were helpful, but they you know, the church does not keep a written record of of temple work at that point in time that they might do that now. But at that point in time, they did not document who actually came into temple work that day. I think the individual temple collected that information, but there was not a database that we could pull to to get that information. So we've kind of discredited that as well.
In the end, the entire exercise with Steve Powell served as nothing more than misdirection.
He was doing his. I mean, it's obvious his goals were to derail the investigation, to steer us as far away from possible what was really happening and what was going on just to get us away from him so that they could, you know, live in the peaceful KB Home that they had created. But that was obvious. As the summer of 2010 stretched on, Daryl kept pushing his colleagues at the West Valley City Police Department, trying to get them to go hands on with Josh.
I mean, I run a fugitive task force. My my role in the community is is a little bit different than a regular cops. I'm not here to help you cross the street. I'm not here to help you change a flat tire. My sole purpose, Congress funds my task force for us to chase down violent fugitives. And you don't do that by hugging and holding hands. It's an aggressive job. And we heard a lot of feelings in the process.
But sometimes we ask nicely, people will just lie to you and want you to go away. So you need to you need to think outside the box. And that's constantly what we're trying to do. And so that's what I brought to this investigation. Let's we haven't done this. Let's do this. Let's get crazy today. Let's be aggressive on this case. What do you say? And, you know, it was it was frustrating because a lot of times I go bring these ideas to the table, be like, OK, sounds good.
Daryl's involvement also started to raise eyebrows up the chain of command. He and Detective Alex Maxwell were at that point several months into their hunt for summer, the stripper.
So we're getting to that point where the marshal service is just like, what are we doing here? Why are we spending thousands and thousands of dollars to to allow you to work this investigation? We're flying you all over the country to do these things. We're paying overtime to task force officers. I mean, the Department of Justice and our service was dumping a lot of money into this investigation. And at one point in time, a higher up in the investigative branch reaches out to us and look, what are you guys doing if they're not going to help you work this case?
You're done like we work fugitives. We don't go out and solve crimes and put this together. So the headquarters are really like this is out of our scope.
At the start of November 2010, West Valley police went back to Poland. Right before this happens, Marshal Service basically says you're done. The police planned to confront Josh and Steve about Susan's childhood journals.
This meeting needed to happen. Mike couldn't let it be. Nobody really knows this, but I paid for my own ticket to go up there. I just I thought if I pushed headquarters a little bit more, they were going to fly out. I'll be like, no, Darryl, don't go. And I didn't.
It's almost like Mom says, no, I'll go as dad. Well, how about I don't ask mom or dad and I just handle it. So I paid for my own ticket. I went up there, I'm on my own dime. Ellis was already up there and I did a double room. I'm crashing with you. So I went up there. He picked me up the airport super late at night.
So Darrell returned to the Powell house on November 16th, 2010, with West Valley Police Lieutenant Bill Merritt, who he introduced as a U.S. marshal.
I felt pretty good about this interaction with the Powells for a couple of reasons. Number one, I'm back in the house. And so I think things are moving forward and we're still facilitating conversation, which is good. Right. And I'll never forget Charlie Braiden. The boys were playing at my feet. And, you know, I have two sons. And so this was like, we got to fix this. Like, we got to we've got to make this right.
They talked with Josh and Steve for about an hour and a half, making the case that the Powell family should provide the marshals with Susan's childhood journals.
It was the first time I had seen it, but Josh was starting to stand up to Steve and question him on things.
And they started to bicker like pretty pretty aggressively, like almost like borderline domestic. But I'm just sitting on a couch and I was just, like, so happy this is happening. I see these two to argue and fight. The negotiations ensued about this whole thing, like, well, can we just get a copy of it? And then, of course, now Steve and Josh try to pretend like they're too computer stupid to to figure this out.
The Powells never did end up handing over Susan's journals, and Darrell found himself off the case for good after that.
A little over a year later, Josh murdered his sons and took his own life. Steve Powell was at that time in the Pierce County jail, they went interviewed him at the jail and he wouldn't talk to them and he said he told investigators that Dale Marshall would have done what I told them. This never would have happened. So, you know, even at this stage in the investigation and the relationship I developed with these two jokers, like they're still there, they're blaming me for this, which is was never really sat well with me.
Not that not that neither one of those individuals depict how I feel throughout the day. But it was it was pretty dark to kind of like these these these guys are blaming me for this type thing, like like I didn't do my job well enough to find Susan.
Daryl Spencer should not bear the blame for what happened to the boys, even though he wishes he could have prevented it, ultimately, responsibility rests with Josh.
I think people underestimated the darkness and the demons that were Josh and Steve Daryl, a Marine who served his country in combat and who spent his career as a marshal dealing with violent, dangerous criminals, told me he had the Powells pegged from the get go.
I picked up on it right away. I'm like these these two. There's something going on here. There is this is not right. This is a did not have a good feeling and I immediately knew that they were capable of making a woman disappear. I could tell you in my gut, in my heart, like I knew like this.
They were involved in this, but no doubt about it. And Derald Doubt's, Susan's body will ever be found. There is no doubt in my mind, not one sliver of a he did this. There's no doubt about it. They have there's no question in my mind I knew this throughout the course of the investigation. And it was so frustrating because I I felt like we had enough evidence. Let's get this. Let's get him into custody. Let's solve this problem and let's build let's finish building the case from there.
We have mechanisms, legal just mechanisms that we can take him into custody and hold him in a facility while we finish this investigation. And we can get a better control of it. And I just didn't feel like the district attorney's office was supportive of that. Know, we would present facts and then here's where we're at. And and they kept an eye on it and they kept an eye on it, which was which was frustrating. I'm not surprised how this ended.
I'm I'm just not.
Thank you so much for listening to Susan Powell story in the Cold podcast, I am less than a month away from dropping the first episode of a brand new second season of Cold, bringing the same deep reporting to a new case. At the same time, Cold will go exclusive on Amazon music. So now is the time to download the free Amazon music app and follow cold. They're no subscription required. You can visit Amazon.com slash cold podcast or just ask your echo device to play the Cold podcast.