Private investigator asking Amazon for help in case of missing Utah woman


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SALT LAKE CITY — A private investigator hired by the parents of missing West Valley City woman Susan Powell said a contractor working to decode a hard drive owned by Susan’s husband Josh Powell has reached a milestone.

However, they’re still not able to access information on the drive. reports she is now reaching out to internet giant Amazon, or those with Amazon connections, with the intention of continuing the decryption effort.

Susan Powell’s parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, are working with Winquist Investigations in the hopes of learning what happened to their daughter. Investigator Rose Winquist partnered with Utah-based firm Decipher Forensics to try and defeat encryption on a copy of a hard drive seized from Josh Powell during one of several police raids.

Susan Cox Powell has been missing since Dec. 7, 2009 and is presumed dead. Police believe Josh Powell is responsible for her death. Investigators labeled him a person of interest immediately after the disappearance, but he was never arrested or charged in connection with the case.

Josh Powell killed himself and the couple’s two young sons Charlie and Braden in February of 2012 while the boys were at his rented home in Graham, Washington for a supervised custody visit.

During the original search for Susan, police seized multiple computers and external hard drives.

Some were taken from Josh and Susan’s home in West Valley City. Others were retrieved from his father Steven’s home in Pullyalup, Washington, where Josh moved after Susan vanished.

Winquist said the drive image being reviewed by Decipher was encrypted by software called TrueCrypt. She said Decipher started running a decryption process four years ago and only recently broke through the first of two layers of encryption on the drive image.

Winquist said cloud computing software owned by Amazon could reduce the time needed to crack the second layer. She has reached out to Amazon, as well as to Apple, in the hopes of obtaining their cooperation or funding support.

Winquist said there might not be any information on the drive related to Susan Powell’s disappearance, but said it is important to eliminate any possible leads.