Cold season 1, episode 1: To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: Apprehension knotted up Catherine Terry’s insides on the drive over Snoqualmie Pass. It was late November, 1999. Catherine’s boyfriend Dennis was at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Gallant, heading west toward Seattle.

(Sound of rain on windshield)

Dave Cawley: Rain pounded the windshield, making it hard to see the mountain road. The wipers swept back and forth at what seemed a frantic speed.

(Sound of windshield wipers)

Dave Cawley: Catherine was ready for the drive to be over, but she wasn’t looking forward to what awaited her in Seattle: her ex-boyfriend, Josh Powell.

Catherine Terry Everett: He could be so good, he could be so sweet and loving and then if things weren’t going his way, not so much.

Dave Cawley: Catherine dated Josh long before he became the subject of a murder investigation. In fact, the story she’s about to tell happened almost exactly 10 years before Susan Powell vanished. She’s never told it to anyone aside from friends and family — not police, not reporters, not anyone.

Catherine Terry Everett: I wonder, and I do wonder in the back of my mind, I’m like “I wonder if Josh thought that I would resurface and blow his whole cover.” But I’m just like, “I don’t want to deal with him. I don’t want to deal with the repercussions of him sic’ing his family on me.”

Dave Cawley: I found Catherine by scouring thousands of files recovered from Josh’s computer. He mentioned her by name only a couple of times, having intentionally erased almost every trace of her from his journals. Catherine’s broke her silence with me for the very first time. But back to the story. In November of ’99, Catherine hadn’t yet told her new boyfriend Dennis much about Josh. She’d only told him Josh’d been very controlling.

Catherine Terry Everett: Yeah, I didn’t realize at the time of course how isolated I had become because I think I’d built up in my mind that I was happy and that things could only get better. And eventually we’d get married and things would be better after that and…

Dave Cawley: It was afternoon before they made it to Seattle, but already starting to get dark. They found a hotel a few miles north of downtown. Catherine called Josh to arrange a time and place to meet. She’d broken up with him over the phone months earlier, in March, during a trip home to Utah.

Catherine Terry Everett: He didn’t, he didn’t yell or anything like that. He was just really quiet, he goes “what do you want to do with your stuff?” And I’m like, “well, go ahead and stick it in storage and I’ll come up and get it.”

Dave Cawley: So that’s what Josh had done. In the meantime, she’d met Dennis. They’d fallen in love. Catherine knew she needed to go back to Washington at some point to get her stuff. When she called Josh to let him know she was coming up in November, she told him her fiancé would be with her. But Dennis and Catherine weren’t actually engaged.

Catherine Terry Everett: I think it was better that we told him that we were engaged instead of “oh, this is my boyfriend.” ‘Cause then he would have been like “insert Josh, let me see if I can break this up.”

Dave Cawley: Josh insisted he needed to see Catherine that very night. He said he wanted to give her a pass to the Pacific Science Center.

Catherine Terry Everett: I do remember telling him “I don’t think we’re going to use it.’ But he’s like ‘I’m going to come drop it off anyways.”

Dennis Everett: “Just in case you change your mind.”

Catherine Terry Everett: But no I really, I really think it was his way of checking out the situation.

Dave Cawley: Josh showed up at the hotel around 11 p.m. He knocked on the door. It swung open, revealing a tall, broad-shouldered man — Dennis Everett.

Dennis Everett: I just, I stood in the doorway. I’m six-one, he was about five-ten and he was a lot smaller than I am. I stood in the doorway like this and she’s peeking over my shoulder, like kind of standing on her tiptoes and peeking over my shoulder—

Catherine Terry Everett: And I was like “hey.”

Dennis Everett: Just taking in the whole conversation.

Catherine Terry Everett: Yeah.

Dave Cawley: Josh’s eyes grew wide. He said “well you must be Dennis.”

Dennis Everett: He was being all cool and cordial. He didn’t seem anything like what she had described to me. And still I didn’t know half the stuff that came out later.

Dave Cawley: Josh handed over the science center pass as promised. Then, he and Catherine agreed to make the handoff of her belongings the next day.

We’re gonna get back to Dennis and Catherine in just bit. First though, we need to talk about Josh. Josh had a long history of failing to connect with girls. His written journals are full of entries about struggles in dating. His audio journals are even more telling. Here he is, in his own voice, reacting to one rejection.

Josh Powell (from 1999 audio journal recording): To lose such a good friend, I didn’t want it to end. I know you’re in a better place but it still broke my heart. I know when you hugged your brother you sent him to me and he filled me up. He replaced my broken heart with incredible joy. Some of the greatest joy you could possibly imagine. You taught me so much about where I want to be and especially how to take care of people and also who I am and who I want to be. I’ve never met someone so full of love. Your example was so powerful that it didn’t take months or years. The footprints you’ve left in my heart are some of the deepest I’ve ever known. They’re here to stay. Losing you was so hard and yet how could I be so selfish to ask for more than you’ve given me which was more than I ever thought possible. You are one of my best friends ‘cause you taught me love.

Dave Cawley: This is Cold, Episode 1: To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before. I’m Dave Cawley.

Let me take just a second here. That voice you just heard belonged to Josh Powell. He recorded that sometime in 1999, part of a series of audio journals he kept during his early 20s. Those recordings have never been public — until now. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Josh killed his wife, Susan, in December of 2009. He told police he’d taken their two boys out for a desert camping trip, in a blizzard, after midnight. When they returned the next afternoon, Susan was nowhere to be found. Her body has never been located. Nearly two years later, as police closed in, Josh killed himself and his sons.

This podcast is the result of an investigation spanning more than three years and five western states. It’s involved the review of tens of thousands of pages of police reports, warrants, emails, social worker notes, psychological evaluations, personal journals and more. Everything you’re going to hear has been carefully sourced. Where possible, I will bring you the actual voices of the people involved. In some cases, narrators will stand in for they key players.

We’ve identified three themes in this investigation:

First, Susan did see warning signs, but chose to ignore them. She, like so many women, stayed in an abusive relationship. Why? We can learn from her experience.

Second, it seemed obvious to almost everyone that Josh killed Susan yet police never arrested him. Why not? We’re going to dissect the investigation to find those missed opportunities.

And third, why did Josh do what he did? In order to answer that question, we have to look deep into his past and at the manipulative father who helped mold his monstrous actions.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Steve and Terrica Powell gave birth to their second child — their first boy — on January 20, 1976. Little Josh had an older sister, Jennifer and was soon followed by a younger brother, John. When he turned 5, he decided he hated his kindergarten teacher because she failed his finger painting.

Steve Powell baptized Josh into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when Josh turned 8, even though he wasn’t worthy to perform the rite, or to hold the Mormon priesthood. Steve’s own journals and an outline for his autobiography confirm he’d secretly gone apostate. By that point, Steve and Terri had bought a relatively spacious 2,700 square-foot home in the Spokane, Washington suburb of Veradale. It sat on a one-acre lot, giving their kids plenty of space to play. That was even more important as they added another child to the mix: Michael.

Josh attended Franklin Elementary School. He was a bright kid who developed a love for robots, remote controlled toys, electronics and architecture. In the 4th grade, he figured out all by himself how to calculate the volume of the school’s sand box. The next year he explained long division to a friend, even though no one had actually taught him how to do it. Yet Josh struggled with school, especially math. He didn’t do well with the structure of the classroom.

Life at home wasn’t great, either. When Josh was in the 5th grade, his mom discovered a secret journal that Steve had been keeping. Steve’d written hundreds of pages about the wife of another man. The journal entries represented two years of Steve’s explicit sexual fantasies about that woman. Terri confronted her husband about the journal. Steve said if the woman’s husband were to die, he would take her in as a plural wife and raise her kids.

Terri was 8 months pregnant with her youngest child, Alina, at the time. In divorce papers filed years later, she would claim she feared Steve intended to bump off the other woman’s husband in order to live out his fantasies. Steve showed no remorse for the hurt he’d caused, but promised to change when Terri threatened to leave him.

From the outside, the Powells still looked like a typical Latter-day Saint family. They went to church on Sundays and did stuff together. Steve though started to feed his kids some decidedly different beliefs. He told the boys people were just animals and should be able to have sex with anyone at any time. He also kept porn magazines in the house.

Worse yet, he found himself attracted to his oldest daughter, Jennifer. Many years later, Steve would write about those feelings in his journal.

Ken Fall (as Steve Powell, from May 18, 2005 journal entry): I remember many times sitting at the breakfast bar in our home when she would come into the kitchen in the morning dressed in a t-shirt and panties. That would drive me nuts. … We went on a trip one time, just the two of us and she wandered around our hotel room in nothing more than a bra and panties.

Dave Cawley: Steve wanted to tear Jennifer away from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When she became a teen, he told her the church’s scripture — the Book of Mormon — was false. Terri found out about that conversation and was so upset, she moved out of the house.

Jennifer Graves: When I was about 14, my mom pulled me aside and she had a conversation with me. And she said, “look at this path that your father is going on. Look at the path that our savior wants you to go on, that the gospel will lead you down. Compare them. Where do you want to end up?”

Dave Cawley: Jennifer told me that was turning point.

Jenifer Graves: That was the moment where I finally made a hard and fast decision, and my mind was made up. I didn’t want to be like my dad. I could see that he was going down the wrong path. And he was making some bad choices. And he was treating his family badly. And treating my mother badly. And I didn’t want to be like that.

Dave Cawley: The other kids were younger and more impressionable. Josh’d discovered a love for the Boy Scouts. He reveled at earning merit badges and enjoyed going on campouts with his troop. Steve didn’t like it because the troop was sponsored by the church. He mocked his son until Josh, in shame, quit.

Steve also sought out other anti-Mormons.

Jennifer Graves: He had left the church and he was actively fighting against it. He was writing for anti-LDS magazines and was campaigning big time in his own little ways against the church. And so, and he was doing this with his children, too.

Dave Cawley: When Michael turned 8 and became eligible to be baptized, Steve refused. The family turmoil took a toll on Josh. Divorce court records show that around 1989, when Josh was 13, he threatened his mom with a butcher’s knife. He also killed his four-year-old sister Alina’s pet gerbils, then made her touch their blood. Even worse, Terri said she once caught Josh and John “examining” Alina.

Josh tried to hang himself when he was 14. The suicide attempt left him with a rope burn on his neck. Terri pushed him into counseling.

Steve and Terri tried to work out their marriage. They entered counseling. Terri moved back home and things did seem to get better for a time. It didn’t last. One night, Jennifer was working on a project using the family’s sewing machine. It took longer than expected, so she decided to return to it in the morning. Her brother John wanted to use the sewing machine that night. Steve started to tear Jennifer’s work out of the machine. When she protested, he smacked her in the face.

Around this time, Josh became involved with a youth folk dance group called Silver Spurs. He met a girl named Sarah there. They spent a lot of time together in the spring of 1992, after Josh turned 16. For the most part, it was just innocent teenage stuff. They had long talks and snuck out of their homes at night to hang out together.

Sarah was a couple of years older. She thought of Josh like a kid brother. His intentions skewed more to the romantic. He pressured her to be his girlfriend. Sarah explained in no uncertain terms she not interested. Not only that, she’d be leaving at the start of summer, moving to Wyoming with her mom. It did’t make sense to start a relationship. But Josh persisted. One day, shortly before Sarah left, he kissed her. She didn’t like it, but hoped that by letting it happen Josh would let her go gracefully.

One night in May, Josh wanted to attend a youth get-together at church. Steve refused and grounded him. Defiant, Josh went anyway. That night, he wrote his dad a letter explaining he intended to move out and live in his car.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from May 6, 1992 letter to Steve Powell): You said that I’d probably be more unhappy, but I’m going to find out. … I think it’s going to work out. Maybe we can be better friends this way.

Dave Cawley: Josh didn’t stay out of the house for long. That summer, he got a job working at a neighborhood car wash. One day while on shift, money went missing from one of the cars. Josh swore he didn’t take it, but even his own dad didn’t believe it. Josh was fired. It was the first of what would turn out to be a lifetime of failures in business.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Josh could tell something was wrong. He looked over at his dad from the passenger seat of the car. Steve didn’t look like himself. He seemed preoccupied, distant. The car rolled up Progress Road, past homes with Halloween decorations taped into the windows.

“Have you and mom been talking about divorce again,” he asked.

The question hung in the air. The car kept moving north, toward I-90 and the Spokane River.

“She filed for divorce today,” Steve replied.

That answer flattened Josh like a punch from a prizefighter. He knew his parents’ relationship was bad, but wasn’t privy to all of the dirty details of his father’s private life. He went to school that day, going through the motions while attempting to process what his dad had said. A bitterness started to grow. He wondered why his mom would do such a thing. The only reason he could think of was her religion.

When Josh returned home from school that afternoon, he found his mom and uncles sitting in the living room. The bishop of their Latter-day Saint ward — their congregation — was there as well.

“Your dad and I are getting a divorce and I’m keeping the house,” Terri said.

She told her oldest son he was welcome to keep living there, but would have to abide by some new rules. She handed him a sheet of paper. No swearing or crude talk. No R-rated movies. Curfew at 11 p.m. At the bottom, Josh read “if you break any of these rules, mom reserves the right to throw you out.”

A rising sense of fury made his hands shake. Terri wanted him to sign the paper, indicating he understood. Josh looked around the room, from his mom to his burly uncles to the bishop.

“I don’t care about your rules because I’m living with dad,” he said.

Then, Josh ran up the stairs to his bedroom.

“I don’t care where I live, I’m not living with you,” he shouted.

Josh left the house that evening with his brother John. They were going to a friend’s birthday party. As they walked out the door, Terri warned her boys to be back by 11. Josh said they wouldn’t be able to do that.

“You’d better be back by then or the doors may just be locked,” Terri said.

Josh resented his mother’s newfound sense of authority. He had no intention of abiding by her curfew. He and John caught a bus uptown.

As the party started to wind down that night, Josh started to wonder whether or not the threat his mom had made bore any teeth. At 10:30 he called home to ask if the door would, actually, be locked by the time he made it home.

“Why don’t you just come home and we’ll see,” Terri said.

“Well I guess I won’t come home then,” Josh said and slammed down the phone.

He didn’t go home that night, or the next day. Instead, he crashed with a friend for a few days. His dad finally tracked him down. Through tears, Steve told Josh he’d been worried sick. Steve said he’d rented an apartment. Jennifer, Michael and Alina were still at home with Terri, but 15-year-old John was living with him. Steve wanted Josh to come stay in the apartment as well. Josh agreed.

Steve didn’t take the divorce gracefully. He lashed out at Terri in court filings, calling her a religious freak. He claimed her faith had crossed over into the occult. And he used the loyalty of his sons to his advantage. Steve took Josh and John to his paralegal and had them file declarations supporting him.

This is what Josh wrote:

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from November 4, 1992 divorce declaration): We also seem to do an awful amount of arguing over religion and where and when we have to go to church and what we have to believe. … I feel that it is a lot of scare tactics and brain washing and think the younger kids should be protected from that.

Dave Cawley: Steve even had Michael — then just 10 years old — file an affidavit. The judge was not impressed, calling the involvement of the boys in the case “concerning.” Even more concerning were the claims Josh’s older sister Jennifer offered the court.

In early November, Steve, Josh and John came over to the house. Terri was gathering some legal papers when Steve tried to grab them out of her hand. Terri resisted. The confrontation turned physical. Jennifer felt afraid and called 911. Steve, seeing her on the phone, told her to hang up. Jennifer dropped the phone, but grabbed the folder and ran out of the house. She headed for her car, where she intended to lock the court papers out of her father’s reach.

She didn’t make it to the car. Josh tackled Jennifer on the front lawn, wrapping his arms around her and overpowering her. Steve reached the front door and saw his kids wrestling and shouting at one another, in full view of the neighbors. It looked bad. He yelled at Josh to let go of Jennifer and come back inside the house.

Terri and Jennifer told the court that Steve and the boys were trying to brainwash Michael and turn him against his mom. Josh said the house was segregated, girls versus boys. Terri said both Josh and John had hit her in the past. Steve told the court that his wife and oldest daughter were just telling stories.

Jennifer Graves: He totally had them convinced that my mom was just twisting the facts when in reality it was my dad that had everything twisted out of shape. And you’d, he was amazing at that.

Dave Cawley: At first, the judge allowed Steve access to the home because it was where he kept his office. Steve used that permission as cart blanche to do whatever he wanted. When Terri put a padlock on her bedroom door, Steve tried to cut it.

Steve flew into a rage one day when Jennifer stopped him from taking a chair out of the house. He grabbed her by the hair, pulling so hard some strands separated from her scalp. In light of the violence, the judge granted Terri custody of both Michael and Alina. Josh and John were allowed to choose where they wanted to live. Both decided to stay with Steve.

Josh wrote a journal entry around that same time. He called his mom a “treasure seeker” who wanted to bleed Steve for all he was worth. He called his sister Jennifer a “witch.” Now, all of this was going on while Josh was an 11th grader at Central Valley High School. He did his best to keep up with his classwork in spite of the chaos. In the journal entry, he wrote:

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from November, 2011 journal entry): Last week I took a test in Algebra and I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t even figure some of the problems. Algebra is my best subject.

Dave Cawley: Josh wrote that his mother was the reason he’d had to see a shrink more than once in the past, but didn’t go into detail about his self-harm or threatening behavior.

His personal relationships also suffered. Just a few weeks after learning of his parents’ divorce, he responded to a letter from Sarah, the girl he’d surprised with an unwanted kiss earlier that year. Sarah had gone off to college in Wyoming and wrote to Josh about how different college life was from high school. Josh felt she was talking down to him. He was livid.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from November 12, 1992 letter to Sarah): I’ve never said anything before when you offended me. I assumed it would stop. It will stop! If you have to keep saying other people are better than me, then don’t. Say it to someone else.

This was a major shift in tone. Josh’s prior letters to Sarah had been meek, almost puppy-doggish. He seemed to recognize that his emotions were running out of control.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from November 12, 1992 letter to Sarah): Sorry if I seem like a jerk. I’m just mad. I’m tired of you patronizing me. I’m better than most of the people I know. I’m not being conceited either. It’s just a fact. It’s about time you realize it.

Dave Cawley: For all of this anger, there were also hints of an internal conflict. Terri told the court there were times when Josh seemed troubled by the way Steve and John acted. She wrote in one declaration that Josh’s anger seemed to flare and subside. He was capable, she said, of thoughtfulness and cooperation.

In April of 1993, Josh wrote a letter to Sarah’s sister, Theresa. He complained about the divorce and in particular, his mom.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from April 13, 1993 letter to Theresa): I would kind of like my mom to be dead. Sshhh.

Dave Cawley: Steve kept pushing the boundaries. He repeatedly showed up at Michael and Alina’s school. He would take them off campus for lunch, even though he didn’t have legal custody. Steve told the kids it was their mom — not the courts — that kept them apart.

One time, Steve kept Michael for a full week beyond his court-authorized visitation. Terri worried Steve might try to kidnap the younger kids. She told the court Steve’s own parents had played what they called ‘the kidnap game’ with Steve when he was a child.

Jennifer Graves: There’s a pattern of abuse there that escalated through generations. My dad’s parents divorced when he was pretty young and then they played this game of kidnapping each of the children from each other. They would just see how long they could hide the children from the other parent.

Dave Cawley: Jennifer told me that didn’t happen with her siblings, at least not exactly.

Jennifer Graves: My dad didn’t physically kidnap the children, but he did that in a, in this mental way with this game that he would play mentally, where he would twist all the facts and make them believe that my mother was terrible. And so, in a sense, he was kidnapping them mentally.

Dave Cawley: Steve told the older boys Terri’s home was their home, too. They should come and go as they wished. Terri didn’t see it that way. On Mother’s Day, Josh and John went over the house and tried to force their way inside. Terri called the police.

Steve moved to Puyallup at the beginning of 1994. Josh by then was a high school senior and turning 18. He, John and Michael made the move to western Washington as well. Josh had only a few months to go to graduation but the move to Puyallup sapped him of motivation. He ended up at Rogers High School, where he didn’t know anyone and had no friends. He’d left a girlfriend behind in Spokane but any idea of maintaining a long-distance relationship disappeared when he met a girl named Mary Cox. Mary also attended Rogers High. Josh wanted to date Mary, but she wasn’t interested.

Josh managed to graduate high school. Afterward, he took a job working at a cabinet shop in the nearby city of Kent. He also tried to promote his own woodworking business, Powell Custom Furniture, which he operated out of a storage unit. That fall, Josh started classes at Pierce College.

Steve’s move to Puyallup didn’t bring calm to the Powell family. He chafed against the judge’s orders and found himself in contempt of court for not paying the bills and child support. Steve reported Terri to child protective services, claiming she’d neglected Michael and Alina. The state launched an investigation and decided Steve’s accusation was unfounded. 

The Powell family reunited in August of 1994 when Jennifer, the oldest of the kids, married Kirk Graves in the Portland, Oregon temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Steve was absent. Jennifer refused to invite her dad, a slight which he never forgave. Kirk and Jennifer had been together for roughly six months before tying the knot. Josh said he didn’t expect the marriage to last in a letter to his friend Theresa.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from January 6, 1995 letter to Theresa): If I were to place a wager on the outcome of their marriage I would have to bet against longevity. Who knows, maybe they will beat the odds.

Dave Cawley: In March of 1995, Josh bought a motorcycle. The bike was nothing too flashy — a Yamaha Radian — but it did make getting around between home, school and work a bit easier. It was cheaper than a car and Josh liked the speed.

Josh disliked living with his dad. Steve encouraged arguments among the kids, especially over religion. The house was a hostile place, not somewhere Josh wanted to bring friends. Not that Josh had many friends to hang out with — he didn’t really meet anyone at Pierce College. Mary Cox wasn’t the only girl to spurn him, either. He struck out over and over again in his efforts to find a girlfriend.

In the fall of 1995, he met a girl named Becky in his macroeconomics class. They hit it off, but Josh was reluctant to get too attached. He later wrote:

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell in undated note about past relationships): Becky liked to go dancing at the club with her girlfriends — I think dancing is an intimate activity to be shared with a loved one. I tend not to see the point in dancing with strangers. Becky also enjoyed the occasional drink. She went to bars with her girlfriends. One time while I knew her she went by herself since her friends weren’t available. I think this is not a ladylike activity. I have decided to direct more energy to finding a girl who has similar attitudes on love, intimacy, time, education, alcohol, and such issues.

Dave Cawley: Josh did well in school, keeping a GPA just below 4.0. That was impressive, considering he frequently slept through classes. The one exception was a course on American Sign Language, which he loved.

After completing his associates degree at Pierce College, Josh enrolled at the University of Washington in Seattle. His goal: become an architect.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Josh rented a dorm at Stevens Court for the fall semester of 1996. He was thrilled to find an ethernet jack in his room. It was a much faster internet connection than his dial-up modem at home. He connected his computer, set up his first email account and marveled at the ability to access an entire encyclopedia on CD.

His excitement for the university experience didn’t last. On his 5th day on campus, Josh’s dorm mates decided to throw a back-to-school bash. About 75 people crammed into the small apartment. They passed around beer and bud, encouraging Josh to drink and smoke pot with them. He refused. At one point, an inebriated roommate slammed Josh to the ground. The blow did more to damage Josh’s pride than his body. But the bullying wasn’t just physical. During another party, Josh’s roommates told him that one of the guests was gay and wanted to have sex with him. They were explicit in their description. Josh brushed it off but they continued to heckle him.

‘Isn’t that why you’re in college,’ they asked, ‘to experience new things?’

Josh didn’t quite know how to handle their taunts. He requested a room transfer, but it took weeks for the university to approve. Meantime, he fell behind in his classes.

In November, he wrote a letter to the University.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell in November 6, 1996 email): Throughout my stay in that first apartment, I was bombarded with loud noises at all hours of the night. I was the subject of a sick joke that became sexual harassment. … My personal belongings were stolen by my roommates or their guests. And I was the victim of assault and battery.

Dave Cawley: The transfer finally came through. Josh found his second apartment at Stevens Court quiet and clean. His new roommate was an international student from India. They became fast friends. Josh joined a yacht club and took a drama class. On some nights, he let off steam by walking a couple of blocks down to the edge of Portage Bay.

Josh was living on his own for the first time in his life. It brought things into focus. He confided to his friend Theresa that his dad was a bad influence.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from November 26, 1996 email to Theresa): My dad seems to always get mad at me when he sees me. … My brother and I concluded that my dad resents me. He often says rude things to and about me. Actually the things he says are not true. He perceives them because he wants to. I try not to get mad, but it is hard sometimes.

Dave Cawley: A month later, Josh told Theresa he’d heard a story on the radio about depression. He believed he was depressed.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Josh’s mom was also in school. Terri had married Steve right out of high school. She’d never gone to college, instead staying home to raise her five kids. After the divorce, Steve repeatedly refused to pay child support or his portion of the bills. Terri had to make a living, so she enrolled in college.

It wasn’t enough. She actually had to ask the LDS Church for financial assistance. Steve took notice. He demanded she pay him child support, even though his earnings far outpaced hers. He also renewed his efforts to gain custody of Alina.

At the start 1997, Josh abandoned his ambitions in architecture. He decided to go all-in on drama, which he’d really enjoyed in high school. He signed up for a theater class at UW and tried out for a play, winning a part in a production of Lil’ Abner. His role was a crony. I mean, it wasn’t even a speaking part. Friends told Josh they were excited for him, but it must have come as a blow to his ego. He abandoned any aspirations of pursuing a career as an actor. His feelings of apathy and depression did not go away.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: One experience at the University of Washington changed Josh more than any other. One day during the spring of 1997 he walked by a window and saw a pretty young woman sitting on the other side of the glass. She glanced up at him. Josh smiled. The woman smiled back. So, Josh dropped what he was doing and went to introduced himself.

Understand, Josh was never shy around girls. He overflowed with confidence and felt no apprehension about approaching total strangers. This time, he discovered the woman was a member of a group called Campus Crusade for Christ. She invited Josh to spend time with her friends, who were all Born Again Christians. Here’s what Josh wrote about the experience in a later letter.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell form undated personal letter): One of their celebrations was in a big lodge where whole families were invited. Many of us were sitting on the floor. A cute little black baby boy came up to me and sat on my lap. He said, “I love you.” I knew he did and in my heart he was the only one who did love me at the time.

Dave Cawley: Remember, Josh was feeling secretly depressed and he was moved. He asked his new friends to make him Born Again.

Soon, the semester ended. Josh moved out of his campus apartment and back in with his dad in Puyallup. They didn’t get along, especially as Josh began to question the absence of religion from his life. His turn inward also revealed to Josh just how poorly he’d treated his mom as a teenager. Instead of returning to school that fall, he went back to Veradale to patch up his relationship with Terri.

The escape from Steve’s orbit had a profound effect on Josh. He examined his life, questioning why it always seemed so hard for him to connect with people, especially girls. Here’s what he wrote about it that September.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from September 19, 1997 journal entry): I think certain aspects of my character can use improvement. I may be in much easier person to be around with these minor adjustments. For instance, I say what I think. Sometimes I need to remember that people don’t want to hear some things.

Dave Cawley: Josh reconnected with cousins on his mother’s side of the family. They, like the little boy at the Campus Crusade for Christ retreat, showed him unconditional love. Terri encouraged her oldest son to attend some of the events for young adults put on by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from undated personal letter): My mom suggested that I go to Family Home Evening. I decided to go hang out there ‘until I could make some ‘real’ friends at Eastern Washington University.’ But as I went each week, I found my old friends from junior high school. They were nice to me. And I made real friends in spite of the fact that I told them all I was not at all interested in their church.

Dave Cawley: Josh’s entire demeanor seemed to change. His sister, Jennifer, saw it.

Jennifer Graves: I don’t know what it was. It seemed like for just a little short time there was a little bit of a, y’know, a glimmer of light that came into Josh’s mind and heart.

Dave Cawley: That November, Josh’s old friend-turned-pen pal Jackie wrote him a letter asking about his sudden spiritual awakening.

“Kind of shocked me when you started talking about it,” Jackie wrote. “You used to be so rebellious about it. Mostly because of your mom.”

But Josh no longer resented his mom. He forgave her for the divorce and even started patching up the bruised relationship with Jennifer.

Jennifer Graves: He started going back to church and just overall, I would talk to him occasionally too. He just sounded like he was doing better. On a better path.

Dave Cawley: At the start of 1998, Josh enrolled in school again, this time at Eastern Washington University. He didn’t plan to stay there very long. He wanted to move to Utah, just like Jennifer had. Before that could happen, Josh met a young woman named Catherine Terry.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: You heard a little bit from Catherine at the start of this episode. Here’s the rest of her story.

Catherine had grown up in Utah. She’d only moved to Spokane after graduating high school. Her aunt and uncle had invited her up to live with them, knowing she was coming off a bad break-up and was in need of a fresh start.

Catherine was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In Spokane, she started attending a singles ward. That’s a congregation for unmarried church members. And that’s how she met Josh.

Catherine Terry Everett: The first time I met him was an activity that we went to and of course he immediately came up to me and introduced himself and of course at the time I was young and naive and quite smitten by him. Y’know and, he was really odd about the beginning of our relationship because he was like “I just want to be friends,” y’know, “nothing more than that. I’m not looking for anything more than that.” And so it’s like, ‘cause I was interested in him and obviously he was interested in me. And it just, it kind of, it went from, from there to a relationship.”

Dave Cawley: When Josh left to visit Jennifer in Utah for a few weeks, he spent every night talking to Catherine on the phone. It all moved too fast for Josh, though. At one point, he told Catherine they should break up. She was crushed. Josh returned from Utah a short time later and told her he still wanted to be friends. Catherine sucked it up and agreed. But Josh soon decided he wasn’t happy just being friends. He went to work re-establishing the relationship. Catherine was hesitant, but caved to pressure. She was 19. Josh was 22.

From that point, their relationship progressed very quickly. Josh asked Catherine to move in with him. Catherine’s uncle told her that shacking up with Josh was a bad idea. He said she needed to stay well away from Josh Powell. She ignored that advice.

Josh and Catherine spent the summer of 1998 living with Steve Powell in Puyallup. Josh was spending money freely, buying CDs and DVDs, kitchen appliances, a futon and all manner of other things. When he ran out of money, no problem. He spent what little Catherine had. When his old friend Jackie invited him to her wedding in North Dakota, Josh found he couldn’t afford the price of a bus ticket.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from July 24, 1998 letter to Jackie): I went to the Greyhound station Sunday to buy tickets, but my credit card was rejected. At the moment, I have absolutely no cash. I guess I’ve been spending more than I thought since I met Catherine.

Dave Cawley: Catherine met the rest of Josh’s family, with the exception of his older sister Jennifer who had moved to Utah. Josh’s kid sister Alina seemed to live on her computer, but she and Catherine got along pretty well. John was “standoffish.” Michael, Catherine thought, was quiet and sensitive.

Catherine Terry Everett: Mike he kind of, when we were there, he kind of followed Josh around like a puppy dog, y’know. But yeah, any time I, y’know, even hung around I think mainly his brothers on a one-on-one basis, Josh would come unglued and he’d be like “I don’t want you hanging out with them.” Y’know, I’m pretty sure he probably told me a bunch of stuff, y’know, that wasn’t true to get me to not have anything to do with them.

Dave Cawley: Josh didn’t talk to Catherine much about his family’s history. He didn’t go into detail about the divorce. As far as Catherine could tell, Josh’s dad was a nice guy. Steve was almost a father-figure, very kind to her and understanding.

Catherine Terry Everett: He and Josh they, they clashed a lot. They butted heads a lot and I don’t know if it’s just because Steve expected more of Josh hut yeah, there were times where they would get into it, yelling at each other about this that and the other.

Dave Cawley: Josh and Catherine didn’t stay in Puyallup more than a few months. They soon found an apartment in Seattle. Josh re-enrolled at UW for the fall semester. He encouraged Catherine to do the same, but she didn’t qualify for in-state tuition. So instead, she signed up for classes at a nearby community college.

Catherine had no job and no money for tuition. Josh told her to get a student loan, so she did. When the check came, Josh took it and deposited it into his own account. Catherine never saw that money. In fact, get this: she still owes on that debt to this day, 20 years later.

Josh picked up a job installing furniture for his dad. Catherine occasionally pitched in as well.

Catherine Terry Everett: I just remember every time I got my check, he’d have me sign it and then he’d stick it in his account.

Dave Cawley: Their apartment was tiny. Any time it rained — which was often in Seattle —  the roof leaked. Josh wanted to sue his landlord and started reading about the law.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from November 22, 1998 letter to Brenda Martin): I may as well be a lawyer. It is so easy.

Dave Cawley: In November, Josh wrote a letter to his aunt Brenda about his problems with the apartment. It turned into a rant about the legal system.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from November 22, 1998 letter to Brenda Martin): I am considering becoming a lawyer because I have no respect for that ilk. I would not be afraid to slaughter my opponents. … I would go after bad people of all sorts. Especially lawyers and judges.

Dave Cawley: This was the old Josh, not the young man who’d had the spiritual awakening. Still, he and Catherine continued to attend LDS Church meetings. They joined a congregation for families, even though they weren’t married.

Catherine Terry Everett: It was weird to me because he’s just like “if anybody asks if we’re married, don’t say no.” And, I mean, I even remember wearing just a band on my finger.

Dave Cawley: Josh told Catherine he didn’t want to get married and really never wanted to have kids. Catherine felt very uneasy about the situation. She knew they were not living the religion, but Josh wanted others to think that they were.

Catherine Terry Everett: We were active but I do just remember just feeling so out of place and like “this is not what we should be doing.” Y’know, “if we’re living together and we’re not married, we shouldn’t be going to church together like this and making people think that we’re married.”

Dave Cawley: Those church meetings should have acted as a social outlet for Catherine, but it didn’t work out that way. Any time she started to make friends, Josh would intervene.

Catherine Terry Everett: It was basically his family, him and school. That was it.

Dave Cawley: They had a landline phone in the apartment, but no cell phones. Josh rarely allowed Catherine to use his computer.

Catherine Terry Everett: The only think I ever really did on it was to email my friend. And of course, he sat right next to me as I emailed my friend, reading everything that I wrote, okaying it basically before I sent it.

Dave Cawley: Josh also made sure to read her journal. The only transportation they had was Josh’s motorcycle or the city bus. Catherine didn’t know how to drive a motorcycle and Josh never offered to teach her.

Catherine Terry Everett: He came up with this idea when we’d go grocery shopping to ask the grocery store for a large plastic bag. And we would put all of our groceries in it. He would put it in front of himself on his bike and then he’d be on his bike and I’d be on the bike and we would, we would go back home. And I’m, I can’t remember how many times we did that but I’m just like “this is insane.”

Dave Cawley: Y’know, in effect Josh made Catherine a prisoner. Yet, she kept telling herself she was happy. She was lying to herself.

Catherine Terry Everett: I remember one time getting into a fight with him and there was nowhere to go but the bathroom. And I went and locked myself in there and I remember putting my feet up against the door and him unlocking the door and pushing with all of his might to get in to me.

Dave Cawley: Josh’s control over Catherine wasn’t always so physical. One time, while they were living together, Catherine went to have her nails done. She felt pretty and proud of herself.

Catherine Terry Everett: And then he noticed that I had gotten my nails done and told me how stupid it was and how much he hated it. And I remember him being gone to do something and ripping these nails off of my fingers in order to appease him, only to have to go back to the salon to fix the damage that I had done.

Dave Cawley: That damage was worse than Catherine understood at first.

Catherine Terry Everett: I remember a night where, it was like right after I’d had them fixed and I could feel an infection in one of my fingers and waking up just crying and him not doing anything about it. He didn’t care. Just laying there and being like “you did it to yourself,” basically.

Dave Cawley: Catherine’s uncle in Spokane died while she was living in the Seattle apartment. Her whole family gathered for the funeral. Josh refused to let her go. Steve Powell even came to Catherine’s defense, offering to pay her way to Spokane. Josh wouldn’t hear of it. Catherine told me Josh hated her uncle for having tried to keep them apart.

Catherine Terry Everett: I was so devastated ‘cause I was just like, no matter how much I tried to persuade him to be like, “just let me go,” y’know. “I’m gonna come back.” He was like “no.”

Dave Cawley: In March of 1999, Catherine decided to take a trip home to Utah to visit a friend. Josh’s school schedule prevented him from joining her.

Catherine Terry Everett: It was when I got away, y’know, from him and I didn’t realize how much control he had over how I was and what I did and what I didn’t do and stuff like that.

Dave Cawley: Catherine realized how unhappy she’d become living with Josh. She decided not to return to Washington. She made a phone call to Josh and told him she would not be coming back. Josh put her stuff in storage until she could come up and get it. She made that trip the weekend before Thanksgiving. Josh insisted on seeing Catherine the night she and her new boyfriend, Dennis, arrived in Seattle. You heard how that played out at the beginning of this episode.

When Josh got home from that face-to-face with Dennis and Catherine at their hotel, he scribbled a short note on a scrap of paper. Here’s what he wrote.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from November 20, 1999 journal entry): Her fiancé was a jerk. He seemed like a possessive freak. Like a bouncer.

Dave Cawley: That was one of the few clues that led me to Catherine. I met she and Dennis at their house in Utah on a hot summer afternoon in 2018.

Catherine Terry Everett: C’mon in.

Dave Cawley: Thanks.

Dave Cawley: The window-mounted air conditioner droned as we talked. I’d printed out a copy of the note and showed it to them.

Dennis Everett: Holy smokes, this is when we were there. This is the weekend we were there.

Dave Cawley: Dennis and Catherine are married now.

Catherine Terry Everett: I don’t want to read it. I’m good. You can tell me about it later because I’m pretty sure he will. He’ll be like “hey, we need to talk about this.”

Dave Cawley: Let’s jump back again to 1999. The day after Josh dropped off the science center pass was Sunday. Dennis and Catherine drove around Seattle together. She showed him where she’d lived. He took her out to the suburbs, where he’d served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Josh went to church himself that day. Then, he drove his dad’s minivan to the storage unit where he’d stashed Catherine’s things.

They all met that evening in the parking lot of a Petco store just off the I-5 freeway, not far from the University of Washington campus. It was also near the apartment Josh and Catherine had shared for about six months. Josh was wearing what he always wore — a white t-shirt, denim pants, sneakers and a black leather jacket.

Dennis Everett: And he shows up in I guess his dad’s van, a Windstar or something like that. And we got all the stuff out and he’s being really helpful again. He was helping us get everything to fit.

Dave Cawley: It was a challenge, but they managed to cram it all into Dennis’ car. When they were done, Catherine told Josh goodbye, for good, and sat down in the passenger seat. Dennis put the car in drive and pulled out of the lot, keeping an eye on the side mirror.

Dennis Everett: I looked back at him and I think he was waiting for a little while to leave because I think he was just kind of taking it in because I think there was just still that small hope that he might be able to pull something off ‘cause I don’t think he was over her completely yet, even though he wanted to give the impression that he was. But that was that.

Dave Cawley: The feeling of apprehension bled out of Catherine on the drive back to her home in Utah. A different emotion replaced it: relief. She’d escaped. She would never have to see Josh Powell’s face again.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Josh took some time to reflect on the implosion of their relationship. He decided it’d fallen apart because he’d stopped living his faith. Josh wanted to stay in Seattle but couldn’t afford his own place, so he recruited a couple of roommates from among his church friends. They moved into a place just west of the UW campus. Josh was not an easy guy to live with. He insisted doing all of the grocery shopping himself, but became upset when his roommates ate any of the food.

In May of 1999, Josh met a girl at church. Let’s call her Cindy. It’s not her real name, but I’m using it to protect her privacy. She had two sisters, I’ll call them Stella and Jamie — also not their real names.

Cindy was half-Brazilian and spoke fluent Portuguese. Josh started listening to audio tapes in an effort to learn the language. He started pressuring Cindy to date him. He showed up at her family’s house unannounced late one Tuesday evening. Here’s Josh’s own voice, from his audio journal.

Josh Powell (from June 22, 1999 audio journal recording): My general experience is that most girls hate that. But then, that’s the way I am. That’s the way I’d like to be.

Dave Cawley: He asked Cindy to step outside so that they could talk. And then he droned on and on, keeping her out past her 11:30 curfew.

Josh Powell (from June 22, 1999 audio journal recording): But I think I will need to be more careful in the future because I really don’t want to get her into trouble. I think it would be too bad to add stress to our relationship unnecessarily.

Dave Cawley: The next day, Josh wrote Cindy a long letter, describing his time with Catherine and his brief fall away from faith.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from June 23, 1999 letter to “Cindy”): After I came to the church, I had one big struggle and I lost hold for a while. I think even that was for my good though. The sun went down and I was alone. Only when I returned again was I free again.

Dave Cawley: He wrote another a few days later, confessing the turmoil of his parents’ divorce. He said he finally understood his sister Jennifer’s split from the rest of the family.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from June 27, 1999 letter to “Cindy”): She endured the second worst thing in the world. She made a choice to distance herself from my dad. … So now I will face the second hardest thing in the world. It is up to my dad when I will see him and how much.

Dave Cawley: Cindy didn’t have romantic feelings for Josh. She asked him not to show up at the house without calling. He kept finding excuses to visit though, liking dropping off some CDs or bringing over a pot for a plant. Again, this is Josh’s audio journal.

Josh Powell (from June 30, 1999 audio journal recording): I hadn’t really scheduled it. I just called her like an hour before I arrived and I just left it on the voicemail. So I had done what she asked me, in my own little way.

Dave Cawley: Cindy finally had to make it clear — she was not interested. Josh told her he wanted to remain friends. Then, over the next few months, he shifted his interest down the line to Cindy’s sister Stella. Josh’s journals reveal he knew it was abnormal behavior. This is from Josh’s written journal.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from October 8, 1999 journal entry): If there was a girl who is interested in my brother, and then she got interested in me I would probably be very cautious with her too. I might feel like I was her second choice.

Dave Cawley: It didn’t stop him. Josh’s feelings for Stella grew into a raging fire he just couldn’t seem to control. He continued to show up at her house or at her work, sometimes carrying a video camera. It made Stella uneasy. Josh meanwhile was dealing with feelings of jealousy and isolation.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from October 6, 1999 journal entry): Sometimes I feel like no one wants to be around me. … It is as though I am not allowed to feel sad sometimes. … I think a lot of people don’t understand that I have the same feelings as everyone else.

Dave Cawley: In early October, Josh confronted Stella. He brought her flowers and told her he wanted to be her boyfriend. He asked her to pray about him.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from October 5, 1999 letter to “Stella”): Ask your Father about me. And if there is any chance I might be good for you then please don’t start dating anyone else.

Dave Cawley: Stella, like her sister, felt put off by Josh’s high-pressure approach. She told him they should stay friends. Josh did back off for about a month. He tried dating around but struck out, again. He began to blame his dating troubles on his roommates, who he saw as freeloaders.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from December 4, 1999 journal entry): They don’t seem to appreciate all the things I do for them. … I owe them nothing. It makes me want to unshare and get rid of them.

Dave Cawley: In December, Josh poured his heart out to Stella in an email. As he’d done with Cindy, he described how his mom and dad’s divorce had scarred him. He talked about finding his way back to religion. He made a veiled reference to Catherine, his ex-girlfriend, calling her the first girl he’d ever really liked “deep down.” At the end, he told Stella she was then the sole object of his attention.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from undated letter to “Stella”): I want you to love me, [Stella]. I love you. When you said you wanted to be friends I tried to get over you, but no other girl comes close. The only thing I don’t love about you is that I can’t reach you.

Dave Cawley: But one of Josh’s roommates had secretly warned Cindy about what he was really like. Cindy talked to Stella. Word got back to Josh. He was furious over what he called his roommate’s “indiscretion.”

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from December 10, 1999 journal entry): I just want them gone so I don’t mind being a nuisance to them. Boy will I be happy when they aren’t wearing out my nice things any more. … I probably shouldn’t get too mean with these guys, because it could affect my reputation.

Dave Cawley: In January, Josh executed his plan. From the audio journal.

Josh Powell (from February 17, 2000 audio journal recording): I let go of my apartment and I packed up all of my stuff. … I had a feeing I did not need to be in Seattle anymore. I had a feeling and it got stronger and stronger until I finally moved out of there.

Dave Cawley: Before leaving Seattle, he made a half-hearted attempt to woo Cindy and Stella’s cousin. It didn’t go well.

Josh Powell (from February 17, 2000 audio journal recording): I got away from a complicated situation with roommates and friends and complicated relationships criss-crossing every which way.

Dave Cawley: Josh moved back down to his dad’s place in Puyallup.

Josh Powell (from February 17, 2000 audio journal recording): It is kind of difficult living with my dad at times because of his attitudes against the Church. I have thought about it and it and realized that it is even more difficult for my little brother and sister who have never tasted the gospel.

Dave Cawley: In March, Josh took a road trip to his sister Jennifer’s house in Utah. He was there to attend the biannual general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was also there to meet a young Mormon woman he’d found on a website for Latter-day Saint singles.

Josh Powell (from December 13, 2000 audio journal recording): I went down there to Utah to see her. Spent a couple weeks and a few thousand miles. Furthest I’ve ever driven for a date. That was a great experience although obviously it didn’t work out.

Dave Cawley: That’s an understatement. Let me explain why. Josh made just a couple of references to this woman in his writings. I found her full name buried in the thousands of files police later retrieved from his computer.

Now, during our first conversation this woman had told me something about Josh had given her the creeps. She couldn’t put her finger on what. Josh’s own journals may shed some light on it. After their date, Josh wrote about visiting the Provo, Utah temple. He saw young married couples there, with happy expressions on their faces. He thought it was the same look he’d seen on the face of the girl he’d driven so far to meet.

Eric Openshaw (as Josh Powell from March 31, 2000 journal entry): We have had that understanding that when we are together, it is about each other. … Even if I may not marry [her], I was thinking about how sweet she is toward me.

Dave Cawley: He barely knew this girl. He bought her a rose and wrote a letter confessing his feelings. Are you seeing a pattern here? It was the same approach he’d used — unsuccessfully — on the sisters in Seattle. He completely failed to understand she thought he was a weirdo.

Josh didn’t tell his sister Jennifer about those dates, even though he was staying at her house at the time. Jennifer wasn’t surprised when I told her about it.

Jennifer Graves: He has always been just a little bit odd. During that period, I think that the oddness was maybe less pronounced, but it was still there. And we knew it.

Dave Cawley: Josh went back to Washington even more committed to his religion. It put him in direct conflict with his dad. Here’s Josh’s audio journal.

Josh Powell (from December 13, 2000 audio journal recording): I was living with my dad for about six months, until I finally got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore. My dad is of course a non-member and it was starting to wear me down to have to be around alcohol in the house and cussing and occasional anti-Mormon discussions. So my mom suggested I get an apartment in Tacoma. I hadn’t really considered that because I wasn’t planning on staying in Tacoma. Well, I felt like I wanted to get the heck out of there.

Dave Cawley: Josh found an apartment in Tacoma, this time by himself with no roommates. He joined the church’s College Heights ward and enrolled in the business school at the University of Washington Tacoma. He made new friends at church. There were a lot of girls in his orbit, but none wanted to get serious.

Josh Powell (from February 17, 2000 audio journal recording): I often feel like I just can’t get through to any girl that I really like, that the only girls that pay attention to me are the ones that I’m not interested in anyway.

Dave Cawley: That fall, he went to an Institute class with his friend Tim Marini. Institutes of religion are sort of like seminaries. They’re places where college-age church members go to study their faith and to socialize. At the end of one Institute class, Josh spied a young girl who looked somewhat familiar.

Josh Powell (from December 13, 2000 audio journal recording): Well I didn’t know who she was. She was about to leave after Institute and I called her back and I was like “hey come here, talk to me for awhile” and she did.

Dave Cawley: Her name was Susan Cox. As they chatted, she asked if he knew how to play the piano. Josh said “maybe a little.” Susan said she remembered Josh having played the piano at her house years ago. He’d come over to see her older sister, Mary. Again, are you seeing the pattern here? Josh made a habit of moving his affections between sisters when rebuffed.

Susan would later write that Josh “socially attacked” her that day. He was 24, she was just barely 19 — the same age Catherine had been when she first started dating Josh. Susan would soon become Catherine 2.0.

On the next episode of Cold:

Josh Powell (from January 5, 2001 audio journal recording): Tonight I asked my sweet Susan to marry me and she said yes.