Terrica Powell said her son once threatened her with a butcher knife when she asked him to do the dishes, ABC News reported. In court documents from the 1992 proceeding obtained by ABC, Terrica Powell said her son also attempted suicide.
Powell, who had been living in West Valley, Utah, returned to Washington after his wife, Susan, vanished in December 2009. Investigators in Utah said they believe Susan Powell is dead and described her husband as a person of interest.
ABC is scheduled to report on the Powell case on "20/20" Friday night. Terrica Powell refused an interview.
Powell lost custody of his two sons after his father was charged with voyeurism. Last Sunday, when a caseworker brought the boys for a supervised visit, he grabbed them, locked her out and then set the house on fire.
Terrica Powell said in 1992 Josh and another brother pushed and hit her. She described the knife incident.
"I felt extreme fear when Josh made a veiled threat at me with a butcher knife in his hand. His demeanor was menacing for a moment as he said, 'Don't push it, mom,'" Powell wrote.