Utah police chief defends handling of Powell case

Updated:

According to the Friends and Family Of Susan Powell Facebook page, this photo was taken at a Christmas party Susan attended right before her disappearance.

WEST VALLEY, UTAH - A Utah police chief is defending the way his department handled the disappearance of Puyallup native Susan Powell and accusations that they could have prevented the murders of her two young sons.

The boys died in February when their father, Josh Powell, committed suicide by torching his Pierce County home.

Police think Powell killed his wife, who disappeared in 2009.

Law enforcement officials in Pierce County have suggested that newly released evidence shows Powell could have been arrested three years ago.

But the mayor of West Valley City, Utah, says Pierce County sheriff's deputies knew about the evidence.  Local deputies said they only learned the new details after a warrant was unsealed.

Sheriff's deputies said if investigators had known about the evidence, including that blood belonging to Susan Powell was found in the couple’s West Valley home, they would have presented that information to the court and Child Protective Services during the custody hearings involving Powell's children.

The West Valley police chief disagreed that his police department could have acted earlier.

“What Josh did was evil and terrible, and no one could have predicted that,” said Chief Buzz Nielsen.

Nielsen said a premature arrest could have derailed the case or allowed Powell to plead to a lesser charge.