WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Nearly nine years after Susan Powell’s mysterious disappearance – and a family saga that ended in the deaths of three people and the incarceration of one – friends of Susan Powell say the hope for answers is fading. 

Steven Powell, 67, died Monday in a Tacoma hospital of an apparent heart attack, investigators said Tuesday. For many, he was the one person who could have provided real answers into the disappearance of his daughter-in-law Susan Powell, who disappeared Dec. 6, 2009. 

“I had said that for many years…he would take it to his grave,” said Debbie Caldwell, a friend of Susan Powell. “I had hoped I was wrong.” 

Josh Powell, Susan’s husband and Steven’s son, was a person of interest in the case until he killed himself and his two boys in 2012, stabbing the boys with a hatchet and blowing up their home in Graham, Washington. Theories abound as to whether he killed Susan or had a hand in her disappearance, but no evidence has ever been collected to corroborate any of those conjectures. She remains missing to this day. 

West Valley City Police said Tuesday that even though Steven Powell has died, the Susan Powell case remains cold. Police invite anyone with information or leads to contact them.

“Even though I believe that Steven Powell would never talk intentionally,” said Susan’s good friend Kiirsi Hellewell, “there was always the hope that maybe…he would inadvertently do something to help us find her. That hope is gone.”

“Susan’s never very far from my mind, I think about her every day,” said Hellewell. 

Caldwell told News4Utah she used to provide daycare for Susan’s children, Charlie and Braden. Caldwell says Susan confided in her that she was about to seek a divorce. That, plus some verbal abuse by Josh Powell toward his wife, were some of the warning signs Caldwell says she saw that the couple’s marriage was toxic. 

Still, no one ever imagined what would ensue. 

“Josh was controlling,” said Hellewell, describing Susan’s husband as “emotionally abusive.”

Reportedly, Steven Powell was “obsessed with [Susan],” Hellewell says. Susan felt unsafe and wanted Josh to move the family back to Utah from Washington in order to get away from Steven Powell. 

During the course of the Susan Powell investigation, authorities found scores of voyeuristic images in Steven Powell’s home, which led to child pornography conviction that sent him to prison. He was released last year. 

Monday, he died. Friends of Susan Powell say now that he’s gone, they hope anyone who may have answers into her disappearance will come forward. 

“When I heard he had died, I felt relief,” said Hellewell. “I had been afraid that [Steven Powell] might try to hurt someone elese or come after me and my children. But then the sadness set in,” she said, adding that now, all of his alleged secrets may have died with him.