Josh Powell, two sons killed in ‘intentional’ explosion of Powell’s Washington home
Washington police say Josh Powell and his two young sons have been killed in an explosion at the Powells’ Graham, Wash., home. Officials are calling the deaths a murder-suicide.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office told FOX 13 News Josh Powell and his two sons, 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden, were killed in a planned, intentional explosion Sunday afternoon at the Graham home of Steven Powell.
CNN reports that a case worker had just dropped off Powell’s sons at the home for a supervised visit at around 12:45 p.m. Pacific time.
As the children got close to the door, Powell somehow got them inside but prevented the case worker from getting in as well, Graham, Washington, Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Gary Franz told CNN.
The case worker reported smelling something similar to gas, said Franz. A short time later, the house exploded.
Neighbors told KCPQ reporter David Rose that they heard something like a sonic boom and saw ash falling from the sky onto the roof, then flames burning between 30 and 40 feet into the air. Many said they didn’t know that Josh Powell was living in the home; they’d thought it was vacant.
Witnesses say firefighters had arrived within 12 minutes of the explosion, but by that time, the home had been destroyed.
The unstable condition of the residence on Sunday afternoon was hindering firefighters’ efforts to get inside and look for victims. Franz said there were concerns that the house could collapse.
Three bodies were found by the Pierce County medical examiner in a room inside the home and were removed from the home on Sunday evening. They are assumed to be Josh Powell and the two boys.
Police say they don’t believe anyone else was in the home at the time.
Det. Ed Troyer with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said that this was not the first visit between Josh and the two boys and the visit did not seem any different than previous visits.
Josh Powell had been in the midst of a custody battle with the parents of his missing wife Susan Cox Powell. A custody hearing earlier this week ruled that the two boys would remain in the custody of Chuck and Judy Cox, Susan’s parents, but Josh would be allowed supervised visits. He would also be required to to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation and a polygraph.
Detectives told Rose that it appeared as if Josh had staged the house, including pictures of Susan on the walls, to make him appear as a good father, but they were skeptical of his innocence in all of it. They hesitated to call the incident a tragedy, saying instead it was an act of evil.
“Let’s not refer to this please in public as a tragedy. This was not a tragedy. This was a horrible murder of two little kids. Let’s not dress it up, let’s not sanitize it. Let’s call it what it is, which is something deeply wrong, which is not a tragedy, which is something evil,” said Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor. ”This is going to hurt everybody’s heart who’s been involved. This is a horrible, heart-breaking situation.”
A lawyer for Josh Powell told the Associated Press he received a three-word email from his client just minutes before Powell and his two boys died in a house explosion. It said, “I’m sorry, goodbye.”
Attorney Jeffrey Bassett tells The Associated Press the email arrived at 12:05 p.m. Sunday, but he didn’t see it until two hours later, when others informed him of the blast. He says he knew Josh was upset after being ordered to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation recently, but he didn’t see this coming.
Troyer said that emails were being received from Josh Powell’s email account in the hours following the explosion that led them to believe that the incident was planned. Officials have not said who had been receiving those emails.
Anne Bremner, a representative for the Cox family, released a statement Sunday via twitter, saying, “Chuck and Judy Cox need time. Thank you for giving them time, privacy and prayers.”
Steven Powell, who has been in the Pierce County Jail since being arrested for alleged child pornography, has been placed on suicide watch.
Pierce County deputies told KCPQ in Seattle that Steven was uncooperative with questions about the explosion and was not overly emotional.
A court statement filed by Josh Powell petitioning for custody of the two boys alleges misconduct by the Cox family and reaffirms his longheld innocence in the disappearance of his wife. He also talks of Susan’s missing persons case and facing ridicule from many members of the media and public.
“I miss my wife and so do many other people. It has created a very difficult circumstance for our entire family. I have recently heard rumblings that some people are dipping deep down to the bottom of the barrel in a desperate effort to find and manufacture fault with me due to their attitudes. A lesser person would fall under the intense scrutiny I am facing, but apparently my inherent resilience as a person makes it increasingly difficult for them to pursue their agendas. I am standing tall for my sons, but it deeply hurts to face such ridicule and abuse,” the statement read. “I have done nothing wrong to deserve this treatment.”
Kirk Graves, husband of Josh Powell’s estranged sister Jennifer Graves, said that he was surprised by the incident, saying he never imagined that Josh was capable of killing his own children.
“I think it was two things. He knew the police were close. And I think he was afraid of the polygraph,” said Graves. “Closure for us would have been all the answers coming forward all the questions answered. There’s no answers anymore. Those answers are gone with him.”
Susan’s friend Kiirsi Hellewell said that Josh’s act was foul, cowardly and dastardly.
“I can understand if he wanted to end his own life but to murder his children? They’ve been nothing but possessions to him to them since they were born. He didn’t love them he doesn’t care about them. He just wants what he owns. If he couldn’t have them, nobody would,” she said.
West Valley City Police Chief Buzz Nielsen says detectives are going to Washington Sunday night. Nielsen will travel there Monday.
Nielsen says that the case against Powell is mostly circumstantial, but they were making progress. He believes Josh did kill Susan. They will now try to get a judge to release information on Susan Cox Powell now that Josh is dead.
“And most of the time during the criminal side of the investigation, Josh was calculating. He had a couple strategies in the case that we knew about in the method of how he wanted to be percieved and all of these things,” said Nielsen. ”Josh wan’t prepared for us and all these criminal cases. We had things like; Steven was charged and then the kids removed and they took stufff out of the house and Pierce County and they still have an on-going criminal investigation so I don’t want to say too much but all of that was initiated out of this case here.”
Josh Powell was the only person-of-interest in the Dec. 2009 disappearance of Susan.
NEWS SOURCE: ARTICLE BY FOX13 NEWS AT FOX13NOW.COM FEBRURARY 6, 2012