The parents of a missing Utah mother have filed for custody of her two sons after the boys’ paternal grandfather was arrested on charges of voyeurism.
The boys, ages 4 and 6, were taken into protective custody Thursday night, Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. The boys had been living with their father, Josh Powell, at Powell’s father’s house in South Hill since shortly after their mother, Susan Cox Powell, disappeared from the family’s home in Utah in December 2009.
“We always err on the side of caution when it comes to kids,” he said.
They boys have since been put into state care and will be placed in a foster home at least for the time being, said Sherry Hill, spokeswoman for Children’s Administration.
“We are working with law enforcement to ensure the appropriate placement,” she said.
A court commissioner said Friday that he will not decide on the custody of the boys until after the state’s child welfare agency finishes its investigation. Another hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
“We’re very concerned for the welfare of our grandchildren. We’re doing everything we can,” said Chuck Cox, Susan Powell’s father, after the custody hearing.
Pierce County sheriff’s detectives arrested Susan Powell’s father-in-law, 61-year-old Steve Powell, late Thursday after uncovering more than 2,000 sexually-explicit images of young girls and women on videotapes and CDs in his room. Investigators believe the photos and videos were taken without the permission of the subjects in the images, which included Susan Powell.
Steve Powell will be arraigned this afternoon on 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Susan Powell’s parents, Charles and Judy Cox, filed for custody of their grandsons this morning. In the petition, they write that they prepared the document in anticipation of Josh Powell’s arrest in connection with their daughter’s disappearance. He’s been identified as the only person of interest in the case.
The petition outlines details of the marriage between Susan and Josh Powell and trouble that had been brewing in the years before her disappearance.
The couple, both of whom are Puyallup natives, married in April 2001. They moved to Utah in 2003, found jobs and had the sons.
Hill said the custody petition was filed in a different court than what CPS works in now that the boys have been taken into protective custody. The state has 72 hours to file a dependency petition.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.