This podcast discusses domestic violence, criminal behavior, murder and adult themes, while not explicit listener discretion is advised.
Summer had its claws in Salt Lake City September, sun scorched the pavement, the noontime heat made the air appear to wobble.
Jeff Lewis stepped into his truck, a red GMC Sierra pickup outside of his office in an industrial park south of Salt Lake City International Airport.
He knew the lunch hour traffic would be bad on the Bangalter Highway, so he opted to take a back road south toward the 210 freeway.
Jeff's route took him down Gramercy Road to 1820 South, then to an intersection with Bangerter, just north of the two one on ramp, just before I got onto Bangerter at the intersection. I was sitting at a red light with one vehicle in front of me and it happened to be a little minivan, a blue 2005 Chrysler Town and country.
Both the minivan and the GMC were in line waiting to make right hand turns onto the southbound lanes of Bangor. The light turned green and the minivan started to pull forward and turn right. And so I naturally looked left as I was pulling forward and I ran into the back of the minivan.
The town and country minivan had come to a full, unexpected stop. The GMC hadn't been moving all that fast, but its front bumper did hit the van's liftgate. I was just thinking, what are you doing? The light was green. You're going right. And then you slammed on your brakes. What were you doing? You know, and yeah, I was upside to the minivan, did not budge. It hung halfway out into the rightmost lanes of Bangalter Highway Frozen.
A surge of frustration went through Jeff as it became clear the minivan was not going to pull over.
I pulled around him and then pulled on the Bangalter and pulled over to the right and he pulled up behind me. Jeff put his truck in park, pulled out his phone and dialed 911.
Instantly, my first instinct was to call the cops, been in a little fender bender, didn't know what really was going on. The guy was kind of acting weird by not really getting out of the way of traffic. We weren't really even going very fast, maybe three to four miles an hour. A dispatcher took Jeff's information as he walked around the front of the pickup.
It wasn't really any damage to my truck. A couple little scrapes on the front bumper, nothing big. The dispatcher told Jeff a trooper would head his way. He ended the call and glanced over to see the driver of the minivan walking toward him.
He kind of gave off this really weird vibe, by the way he approached. It was kind of like he was a little bit standoffish, just a little bit different, not like a normal person.
The minivan driver stuck out his hand as if he wanted to shake Jeff's. He introduced himself at the same time. My name, he said, is Josh.
I actually told him, I've just called the cops. I'd appreciate it if you stay over there by your van and I'm calling my insurance right now. And he said, oh, you've called the cops. They said, yeah, they're on their way. They'll be here any time.
This is a bonus episode of Cold the Car Crash Con, I'm Dave Colly. Back after a word from our sponsors. It's an election year and I work in a newsroom, needless to say, sometimes my brain just needs a break. That's when I like to clear a few levels on best feeds. It's the perfect escape for my head. If you can match three, you can play, but it never gets old because the puzzles get more and more challenging as you go and you earn the help of cute little bugs.
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That's friends without the R best fiends. Three months before Susan Powell disappeared, Jeff Lewis was involved in a minor fender bender with Susan's husband, Josh Powell, something was really off. I didn't feel comfortable with the guy, you know, and rightfully so. I was also probably that was pretty upset.
Josh had brake checked Jeff as they were making a right hand turn from 20 s onto the Bangalter Highway in Salt Lake City on September 2nd, 2009. Jeff had called 911 one than his insurance agent.
Meanwhile, I look over and Josh is on his phone and he's walking around acting like no big deal, kind of over by his vehicle. And then a cop pulled up.
Utah Highway Patrol records show the cop, a state trooper, arrived six minutes after Jeff called in to report the accident.
As soon as Josh looked over and saw that there was a cop pulled up, all of a sudden his back started hurting and he kind of started holding his lower back and limping back to his vehicle. And he actually got back into his van on the passenger side. The cop got out of his vehicle, walked up to me and asked me, what was that? And I said, I don't know. He was perfectly fine. While we were waiting for you.
Jeff told me the trooper warned him if Josh asked for an ambulance, he'd have to call for one. Jeff couldn't believe it, it wasn't even enough to really when I hit them, to really make my head whiplash or my neck whiplash or anything like that, the trooper gave both Jeff and Josh paperwork to fill out.
They each wrote out their individual accounts of the crash. Just over 10 years had passed from the day of this crash to the afternoon that Jeff and I sat down for this interview, you know, and my memory's a little foggy.
It's been a little while.
Thankfully, the paperwork from that day a decade ago has survived. I have copies of both statements and I asked Jeff to read Josh's words.
Joshua says that came to a full stop at a red light, pulled forward and came to another full stop to traffic, got rear ended. That was at Jeff's version of events, included a bit more detail. Mine was in lane waiting to pull out under Bangerter car in front of me, pulled forward to go. I looked left and he had stopped. I was only going about three or four miles an hour, jumped out to see if he was OK, and he said he was just fine.
So. It's a little bit different standing at the side of the highway that day, Jeff could not imagine why Josh would need medical treatment.
And so the cop walks over and probably about three minutes later walks back to me and says, well, here comes the ambulance. Five to 10 minutes later, a fire truck and an ambulance pulls up, they pull him out of the vehicle like as if he couldn't even walk. They put him on a stretcher, put them in the ambulance and hauled them away. Josh ended up at the Granger Medical Clinic in West Valley City that afternoon, where a doctor diagnosed him with a neck sprain.
I talked with the police officer after and he actually apologized to me and said, you know what, this is right after the recession. And they said, we've seen a lot of accidents. And he goes, I'm not necessarily saying that he purposely caused the accident, but it looks like he did. And we see these kind of accidents quite, quite a bit because, you know, some people can claim, you know, and doctor bills and they are hurt and distress and get 20 to 30 thousand dollars off of insurance for a settlement, Utah.
Court records show Jeff received a citation for following too close. He had to pay a 170 dollar fine, went home. And I didn't really think anything of it after that until three months later when he spotted a face that seemed somehow familiar on the TV news. My first you know, they were talking about disappearance of Susan Powell and her husband, Josh Powell. They had him on the news. And I and I said, I know this guy. I know this guy.
He didn't hit me right away. But all of a sudden I was like I was digging through my stuff and I found the instant report. And sure enough, it was Josh Powell. It came as a shock. Jeff realized Josh and Susan Powell lived exactly a mile and a half west of him in a straight line. What had happened is my insurance called me. It was right around the same time. And they told me that he had claimed that, you know, of course, some vehicle damage they paid out for that.
I want to say it was about three thousand dollars, which honestly, three thousand dollars isn't much damage. He had a little scrape and little ding on the back of the van. Nothing real serious. They also paid out the ambulance ride. This is backed up by paperwork, an estimate prepared by Rocky Mountain collision repair a week after the crash pegged the cost of fixing the minivan at two thousand nine hundred thirty four dollars. He also tried to claim pain and suffering, and they did not pay out the money that he was asking for.
For that pain and suffering from a fender bender, a little love tap at less than five miles per hour. And at the time, my insurance agent actually told me that there was other cases that he had been involved that was very similar to the same accident.
I don't have any proof on that, that is just what my insurance agent told me, Jeff didn't have any proof. I do. Let's step back in time and look at Josh Powles second suspicious car crash. Six and a half years before that rear end wreck on Utah's Bangalter Highway and 585 miles away as the crow flies, Josh sat at the wheel of a different minivan. This time, it was his 1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager. Susan sat shotgun, they didn't have their boys with them because Charlie and Braden had not yet been born.
They say when you want to have kids, get a dog, but we want a dog. So we got a. We don't want kids.
Josh and Susan had been married just over two years. They were then living in Yakima, Washington, working as live in managers at a retirement center. This is from a video Steve Powell shot when Josh and Susan first moved into their onsite apartment.
Well, you don't want kids until you've been in this place long enough to, you know, take experience with them. Exactly.
So on May 12th, 2003, the Powells minivan rolled north along Redken Road in the Little City of Union Gap, just south of Yakima. Off to the right, traffic whizzed by on Isatou.
Redken, a frontage road, had a posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour and wasn't likely to go at 60 miles an hour unless Road Josh wasn't even doing 25 as he crept past the Outback Steakhouse, best western and a truck stop.
And there was no one else on the road at all, no other cars.
Bob Powers was also headed north on Redken that afternoon in his 1993 Lexus s 340.
I had come up on him after it, after a turn on the roadway and went, why is it going so slow in front of him? And that, you know, he's obviously lost, is what I'm saying to myself. You know, that's what you say to yourself.
Obviously lost Bob slowed his focus, drifted out of the corner of his eye.
He spotted an odd looking home at the side of the road for whatever reason, had taken a look at the building and happened to notice that, you know, it was just an ugly roof.
As a real estate investor, Bob had something of an interest in odd properties.
And the minute I look back, it's stopped. You know, it was very abrupt and I didn't understand it at all. No need to be stopping. There's the clear road way ahead. No stoplights, no stop signs, no right or left turn opportunities. There was no reason for him to be stopped. It dead center in the middle of the road.
Bob's right foot stabbed the brake pedal. It wasn't enough. The Lexus skidded into the back of the minivan.
You know, I think by the time we would have even connected, we had to be, as I said before, you know, might have been going five miles, ten miles an hour or something. It was got to be slow.
The front driver's side corner of the Lexus hit the van's rear bumper just right of center.
It just couldn't. And then it was just really soft, you know, connection. Enough that enough that it surprised you, but not enough that it jolted you.
Airbags did not even deploy in either car. Josh would later describe whipping his head backward against the headrest. Susan lurched forward against her seat belt. Her muscles tensed. She didn't feel pain, only a rush of anxiety concerned she turned to check on her husband. Josh seemed OK, but maybe a little dazed. Susan popped the buckle on her seat belt and stepped out of the minivan's passenger door. She checked herself.
Nothing seemed broken or even saw Josh got out of the van as well as Bob was stepping from the driver door of his car, got out of the car and I said, well, we probably should take each other's information and let me let me call and file a report. So I call I that was actually the one who called the police.
Bob had a few years on Josh and he wasn't quite sure what to make of this younger man.
I do remember him being just somewhat aloof, didn't seem to be very animated, kind of odd. And I am very kind of quiet, didn't really talk much, you know, sort of participated in the information exchange, but didn't really have much more to add to the conversation. So I called I that was actually the one to call the police.
Meantime, they checked their cars for damage. What I remember is it wasn't much damage at all.
A union gap police officer arrived. He looked at the two vehicles. Then he wrote up a report. It noted damage to the front driver corner of Bob's car, but no damage of any significance to Josh's minivan. The officer wrote Bob a ticket for following too close.
I was cited for the incident. I had a citation written and didn't feel it was my fault because I felt like it was an abrupt stop.
All these years later, I found a scanned copy of the officer's report among Josh's personal files. I showed it to Bob. It's interesting.
Mm. Josh told the officer that he'd been making a left hand turn, the officer drew a diagram of the crash based on Josh's description.
I find this interesting. This diagram, this is this is they they did this to indicate what the individual had said, that he was trying to take a left turn. But this is not true. This this cannot be possible. Or the area to the left of where Josh had stopped on Redken Road was blocked by a cyclone fence and a locked gate surrounding a fruit warehouse.
I've been unable to find any indication that Josh and Susan ever visited or had business at that warehouse. That wasn't the only oddity on. The police report says no injuries were reported, no injuries. That makes what happens next even more odd. Josh handed Susan the keys and sat down in the passenger seat. She took the wheel and steered north to Memorial Hospital in Yakima. When they arrived, Susan told the emergency department staff she was fine, but her husband needed an evaluation.
Josh went through an exam and X-rays. He received a prescription for ibuprofen and Vicodin. The doctor also told him to take it easy for a few days at work. No heavy lifting, no pouring coffee for the retirement center residents, that kind of thing. Susan awoke the next morning feeling some pain. The adrenaline had worn off and her body ached. But she didn't go to the E.R. as Josh had. Instead, she stopped by a clinic right around the corner from their work attack, took some x rays and nothing seemed wrong.
So Susan went home with just some Celebrex, which she never ended up taking, looking through the records. Now, it seems that would have been a logical place for this story to end, but it didn't. On the second day after the crash, Josh convinced Susan they needed to see a chiropractor. He had found one in the Yellow Pages, so they went in for an evaluation. Afterward, Josh informed his bosses he couldn't do any physical labor doctor's orders.
Also, he would be missing a lot of work while receiving treatment.
Josh and Susan spent the next month and a half seeing the chiropractor two or three times per week, and that wasn't all. The chiropractor wrote them prescriptions for massage therapy. All of the bills went to Josh's auto insurance.
They were coming to the end of their treatments when July 13th rolled around. That was the day Steve Powell confessed his feelings to Susan in the voyeur video recording first revealed right here in the Cold podcast. You might remember Steve had a company, Josh and Susan, to a trucking company in Kent, Washington. Josh wanted to get his CDL and was toying with the idea of working as a trucker.
Well. Colorado and I thought of all the things I want to get a trailer. I hate moving it in and out. And so if I had a trailer, I'd like to have a way to move in, but that I'm tired of it, even if I had to rent and drive.
In the video Steve shot that day, Josh sat behind the big steering wheel using his arms and upper body to maneuver the semi.
He didn't wince or show any outward sign of pain as he twisted, worked the stick shift and waved goodbye to his dad. OK, bye. Yet just three days later, Josh pulled out the Yellow Pages again, he believed, according to medical records, that his recovery had plateaued and he wanted to try a different chiropractor. That meant a new round of evaluations, X-rays and manipulations. Josh and Susan went in together three times a week, just like before.
At every visit, the chiropractor billed the insurance for exercise, training and neuromuscular reeducation.
He even sold Josh on the need for 170 dollars in special pillows and back braces, sending those bills to the insurance as well. Bob Powers, the driver who had hit Josh, had no idea any of this was happening, but to get treatment for what?
Nothing. It seems like Bob went to court fighting the ticket he had received.
He brought photos with him showing tall weeds covering the fence line that Josh was supposedly turning left into.
Well, there's no place where he could have been taken a left turn. It was a total falsehood. That's why I went took photos is just so I would have whatever information I might need and went to present it to the to the judge. And he, uh, he said, you know, I think we're going to rule in your favor. So it's so easy to dismiss the ticket.
Josh and Susan's medical bills kept coming by August. Josh's auto insurance provider, PIMCO, decided it needed to figure out if all of this was really necessary. The company ordered independent medical evaluations for both Josh and Susan. Josh talked to his chiropractor about it and he kept notes. Here's what he wrote.
He said We had to sue in order to show a strong effort to get more money.
He would make us pay all of the invalid charges out of our money, he gave me literature to prove that I should. I told him, I don't think that is necessary. The independent medical exams or I took place on August 19th, 2003, more than three months after the crash. The specialist who did the images described Susan as, quote, very pleasant. He did not use any such language for Josh.
I have copies of the paperwork from this Iame on a page listing symptoms, josh checkboxes for severe or frequent headaches, shaking or twitching and limbs, loss of motion in joints, spine abnormality and excessive worry or anxiety. Susan put a giant slash across the entire form as if to say she didn't have any serious symptoms. The images revealed Susan was fine, although she sometimes had neck stiffness, she didn't require any additional treatment to return to her pre crash condition.
Josh was another story the specialist wrote.
Josh was, quote, neurologically and orthopedics intact. But because of his insistent complaints about pain, Josh would probably benefit from six more weeks of treatment. PIMCO said Josh would have to pay for the pillows himself. It also denied coverage for the exercise, training and neuromuscular education, finding those were unnecessary and not related to the crash.
Bob was stunned when I described the extent of the claims to him. My goodness, I hear it's been, what, 16 years?
The first I've heard Josh argued every detail of the bills with the insurance companies and chiropractors.
His own records show he negotiated his portions of the bills down to just fractions of their total amounts.
Bob's insurance State Farm had quickly paid out 3500 dollars to replace the dinged rear bumper on Josh and Susan's minivan. Josh hounded State Farm for more. He claimed there were new problems with the minivan that cropped up after the crash, like bald tires and a malfunctioning door lock. State Farm refused to pay for additional repairs. The negotiation dragged on for months. In the end, State Farm reached a settlement with Josh, it paid out roughly 13000 dollars to cover medical expenses.
Josh pocketed about half. Six thousand one hundred sixty dollars. Wow, good income for a couple of months back then maybe. It's fair to raise a question here about Susan's involvement in this claim, I turned to Susan's journal hoping to find insight about her side of this experience. But there are two pages missing from it.
The gap in time spans from March 2003 until August 2003, the exact period of time during which this crash and insurance claim took place.
It's also the period of time during which Steve Powell told Susan he was in love with her and she rejected him so one could understand why she might not want this story in her journal.
The entries that followed the missing pages simply described a desire to escape. Here is what Susan wrote on August 29th, 2003.
Literally every work day, we have numerous reminders of why we want to go badly. Hopefully soon our misery can be put to an end. So then we can be living where we want happy what we're doing and soon are able to move on, find a job for Josh and start a family.
All of Josh and Susan's missed work time resulting from the crash had soured their relationship with the owners of the retirement center. They transferred to another center in Olympia at the end of the year, but it didn't help. So in January of 2004, Josh and Susan moved to Utah. They were both unemployed at first, but survived off of that 60 100 dollar settlement check. After a few weeks, Josh and Susan both picked up temp jobs, Josh lost his almost immediately.
Susan's temp position did not provide health insurance. So Josh applied for a private plan that February he listed his occupation as, quote, manager on the paperwork, failing to disclose he was actually out of work and receiving unemployment. He also wrote on the form that he and Susan were both in, quote, great health. He explained away all those chiropractic treatments, saying they were just the result of an auto accident. The agent who handled Josh's application told him she needed records.
He argued with her at length in processing notes. The agent described Josh as, quote, quite difficult to work with, but he did cough up the records. Eventually, after reviewing them, the insurance company offered Josh and Susan coverage with a 15 percent markup. Josh did not take that very well. He pushed back, saying he'd only gone through all those weeks of spine cracking on doctor's orders. The agent told Josh they could reconsider the rate in two years, provided he and Susan remained healthy.
The insurance company viewed it as an already generous offer, the best they could do. He was not happy, but Josh swallowed it. The internal processing notes show only then did the health insurance rep raise the question. What exactly did Josh manage? The agent called Josh to ask, only to learn. He was, quote, now between jobs. Do you ever look up when you're hanging out with your friends and family and realize that every single one of you is on your phone?
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Visit Madisen Dash read Dotcom now to find your perfect shade. That's medicine dash read dotcom. These two car wrecks six years apart exhibited a surprising symmetry. Both were low speed, rear end collisions caused when Josh Powell came to unexpected stops in front of other drivers. In both cases, the other drivers insisted there was no apparent reason for him to have stopped. Josh claimed injuries from both crashes in spite of the fact that neither of the other drivers were injured.
Josh sought months of chiropractic and massage therapy care following each crash, billing those visits to auto insurance. In both cases, the insurance companies ended up ordering independent medical examinations, which raised doubts about the necessity of the treatments. Twice, it's quite the coincidence, and you've indicated that there was some other at least another one of these kinds of incidents, two other incidents. Wow. One of the four one.
Wow. Three times. And it's no longer a coincidence. It's a trend. So let's look at Josh's third suspicious crash. It happened during the summer of 2000.
It was a really nice summer. I, I was actually. Content is happy the way things were going, that's Josh's voice from his audio journals, it was four months before he met Susan.
He had been living with his dad in South Hill, Washington, but had just found an apartment of his own in Tacoma.
So I moved in at a really nice apartment, two bedroom apartment. It was brand new when I moved in.
Josh had a lot going on. He was working long days installing furniture, struggling to stay ahead of his debts.
All told, I think I'm paying out. Close to two thousand dollars a month just to live, he'd made new friends at church and anticipated going back to school that fall. His prized possessions were his computer, his entertainment center and his Plymouth Voyager minivan.
I might have to let my Van Gogh, which is costing me three can in insurance and payments, which is not much on the afternoon of June 8th, 2000.
Josh drove that minivan north up Meridian in Pullup. A young woman named Nicole Lyons was right behind him in her 1998 Jeep Wrangler, Nicole lived in the polyp area but worked out west in Dupont.
She took a van pool to work each day, leaving her jeep in a parking lot near Wallops South Hill Mall just right near a little strip mall.
That used to be a mattress store for some reason. It's ringing bells.
She'd pulled on to Meridian on her way home that day, only to find traffic backed up afternoon commuting traffic.
I would imagine it was around five five, five fifteen. Maybe that's when I would have gotten back to my van a spot and then pulled out onto the road. So that's what I recall.
And come to an immediate stop as bumper to bumper traffic said, waiting for the light at Thirty Ninth Avenue to change. The car in front of her Joshes minivan crept forward. So did she went and thought he was going, but he wasn't Nicole's Jeep hit Josh's minivan. I rear ended him just ever so slightly really. We were going there, know the miles per hour was like, you know, two or three maybe. I mean, it was very much we just started going and then immediately stopped and had impact.
Nicole and Josh each pulled off of the road into a parking lot. Then he seemed, from what I recall, to be in a hurry. They checked for damage by design.
The Wranglers front bumper wasn't entirely flat. It had two prongs on it for tow hooks, one of which had hit the rear bumper of Josh's minivan.
I mean, I think there was a little indentation in his bumper from the prong of my vehicle. There was not any damage to my vehicle whatsoever.
They had a quick conversation. I think there was some talk of do we even want to exchange information? And we ended up exchanging information.
Josh scribbled Nicole's license plate and phone number on a paper copy of her auto insurance card, which he kept. He also wrote out his own description of the crash.
He later scanned both papers into his computer, though Nicole had no way of knowing that, and I wasn't sure that he was even going to turn it in or file a claim.
It wasn't a big deal as far as she could tell. No police, no ambulance, no problem.
He seemed completely fine and very, you know, like I said, in a hurry, let's exchange information and get on his way.
The next day, an insurance adjuster came to look at the minivan. He figured the rear bumper cover would need to be replaced at a cost of about five hundred sixty dollars parts. And labor records obtained by this podcast show the actual cost to repair came in below the estimate at 452 dollars. Repairs to Josh's body, they cost a good deal more. He started seeing, can you guess, a chiropractor. She wrote, Josh had a mild to moderate cervical thoracic strain or sprain, in other words, neck and back pain.
She referred him to a massage therapist to receive two massages a week for the next six weeks. Josh did not want to pay for this, though, so he called Nichole's insurance progressive and started badgering them for money. Here's what he wrote in his notes.
We talked and I tried to negotiate, but he didn't negotiate at all until I forced the issue. And he offered four hundred dollars cash and five hundred dollars medical. I told him that that doesn't even cover the here and now medically.
The day after writing that, Josh went to the office of a personal injury lawyer in Charlotte, he hired the firm on the spot, agreeing to give them a third of anything they recovered from progressive.
Nicole had told her progressive agent her side of the story. I also called it into my insurance and talked with them and gave a statement of what happened and then that was it. I don't remember getting any additional pieces of information from that.
Joshes attorney spent a few weeks gathering up medical records, then sent a demand letter to Progressive. It said Josh had incurred about 1500 dollars in medical expenses. It also said he deserved six thousand five hundred dollars in general damages.
As such, they wanted Progressive to cough up eight grand. A month later, progressives settled, agreeing to pay out less than half of that amount, about 3400 dollars that more than covered the medical bills, the attorney took his cut of about 100 dollars, leaving Josh with a check for 728 dollars. Nicole never knew.
Would it surprise you to learn that he claimed injury out of that crash?
Yeah, that would be surprising. I don't remember there being any concern of injury.
All right, with all of that background now, we have to look at the paperwork Josh filed with his car insurance company after the crash on Bangalter Highway in Utah back in September 2009. Josh wrote, he had Whiplash, one of the questions on the form asked if he had previously been treated for, quote, similar symptoms.
He checked, no, I actually had no idea that that this guy had made any claim whatsoever with my insurance company until you guys would come up with that information. I thought it was pretty revealing.
Josh's own records prove he had claimed whiplash after the 2003 crash in Yakima when Bob Powers rear ended his van.
I called my State Farm agent and said, Dad, did this really all happen? I mean, would they actually get some kind of payout? And he told me the extent of the payout. And I says, you've got to be kidding me. Julius's, how come there wasn't follow up by you guys? Because I had that following two close ticket was dismissed at court. I would think you would have no obligation. And as well, we just we try to take it out of your hands and not have you have you worry about it whatsoever and that's why we haven't reformed it.
While State Farm didn't share the details of Josh's 2003 claim with Bob, the company did enter those records into a fraud prevention database. They were available to Jeff Lewis's insurance company as it investigated Josh's 2009 claim.
The 2009 crash happened three months before Susan disappeared. Josh was still undergoing treatment for his injuries when his wife vanished, and in the months that followed, the insurance companies ordered another independent medical exam, which I described in Episode six of Cold, the paper trail from that IMEI revealed. Josh was diagnosed with a rotator cuff strain or partial tear just 10 days after Susan disappeared. He blamed that injury on the crash, even though there was no mention of it in any of the prior medical records.
Yeah, it was an act. He claimed shoulder injury when the car pulled up. He was holding us back. He was all an act.
Again, that's Jeff, the guy who rear ended Josh three months before Susan disappeared when I saw him on the news and his wife was missing.
My gut feeling was, is that he was trying to get insurance money right away. When I see this, I'm going, man, this guy this guy got rid of his wife for money.
On the surface, none of these crashes seem like much.
But taken together, they paint a picture of Josh Powell willing to scam the insurance system for a few thousand bucks or in Jeff's view, maybe a million bucks, Susan's life insurance.
And then it comes out that, you know, she did have an insurance policy. And so that's exactly what I thought he did.
I wasn't sure what I would find when I first set out to identify the driver who hit Josh on that September day in 2009. To be honest, I wasn't sure I would ever be able to.
There wasn't enough detail. All I knew was someone crashed into Josh's minivan on or near the Bangalter Highway. I scoured the West Valley City case files, but came up empty handed, I checked court records for any case connected with Josh Powell on that date. There weren't any.
I submitted public records requests to multiple police departments asking for reports of any crash involving Josh's minivan on or around that date. None had any. It had not occurred to me then that the highway patrol might have jurisdiction. While I wasn't able to identify Jeff, it turned out he was listening to Cold, my wife actually found it and said, you've got to listen to this because she knew the little bit of a background of being an accident with Josh Powell.
So she said, you've got to listen to this podcast. They mentioned you in this. I'm like you. They don't mention me. What are you talking about?
Jeff reached out indirectly by leaving a review for the podcast on your KSL podcast.
I did leave a comment saying, hey, you can reach me. I'm the guy that got an accident with them. I've been brought up a few times and that was probably January of this year.
But that comment was soon buried and I never saw it. Months went by and season one of cold came to an end.
Still, I couldn't shake the sense that I needed to find this driver, so I turned to social media. In the minutes immediately after the September crash, Josh had snapped a photo from the passenger seat of his minivan. It showed the truck that had hit him, that red GMC Sierra, as well as the other driver. The photo was still on Josh's phone when Detective Alice Maxwell took it from him the day after Susan disappeared.
Well, I want to see if that's going to hang on to until we're finished. OK.
When digital forensics investigators went through Josh's phone with a search warrant several months later, they recovered the picture. But nothing about it raised suspicion, I mean, I don't think there's ever a sense of urgency to find me that was, you know, I had a minor brush in with this guy.
And Jeff didn't come forward on his own back then because he didn't see how his encounter with Josh could have any relevance.
He had no way of knowing that Josh had used that crash to obtain a prescription for cyclo bensedrine, a muscle relaxant capable of knocking someone off their feet. He didn't know about Josh's suspicious shoulder injury or the Iame that suggested Josh was scamming the insurance company.
I had a copy of Josh's photo, the one from his phone over the summer, I uploaded it to Facebook and Instagram, along with a plea for help identifying the man it showed.
My wife actually shot me a picture of me standing outside of my truck. I said, what the heck, where did you get this? And she says, Well, it's on Facebook. It's on that cold podcast's Facebook.
Jeff and I atlast connected. He also provided documentation which I was able to verify as authentic. He was the guy.
But I just, you know, always found it very interesting listening to the podcast, you know, being in an accident with this guy. I followed the case. That's a heartbreaking situation.
When we spoke, Jeff shared feelings of frustration over how the entire situation had unfolded following Susan's disappearance. I felt like, you know, as a father that the system had completely let those kids down. There's nothing they could do about Susan, but they I feel like those kids could have been saved.
Josh Powell's car crashes and the petty insurance claims he filed pale in comparison to the tragedy of what eventually unfolded in the Powell family, but they help us understand his behavior. With the benefit of hindsight, we can now see the troubling ways in which he attempted to use people. It didn't matter if those people were the strangers behind him in traffic or the two children he shared with the woman he mistreated and likely murdered. If Susan's story sounds familiar in your own life, in other words, if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse in any form, please get immediate help in the U.S. support.
As a phone call away at the National Domestic Violence Hotline at one 800 seven nine nine seven two three three or online at W-W dot the hotline dog. If you would like to support cold, please subscribe in your podcast app of choice and consider leaving us a rating or review all of those help us reach new listeners. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at the Cold podcast. And we have a website with articles, pictures and video, the cold podcast Dotcom.
Michael Von Miller composed the music for Cold except for the guitar stuff. That was me.
The KSL podcast team includes too many people to name here, but my special thanks to our leader, Cheryl Warmsley, to our TV producer, Kara Thurmond, to our radio producer Becky Bruce, digital specialist Josh Tilton, and my fellow podcast producers Nina Ernest and Danielle Prager. Cold is a production of KCL podcast's, thank you for listening.