UPDATED at 2:43 p.m.
A Pierce County judge ruled this afternoon that the sons of a missing Utah mother cannot be safely returned to their father, who has long been a person of interest in his wife’s 2009 disappearance.
Judge Kathryn Nelson issued the ruling after hearing from the state and Josh Powell regarding the custody of Josh and Susan Cox Powell’s two sons, ages 4 and 6.
Nelson awarded temporary custody of the boys to Susan Cox Powell’s parents, Chuck and Judy Cox. Josh Powell has been granted supervised visits.
The sons were taken into state custody late Thursday after Pierce County sheriff’s detectives arrested their paternal grandfather on allegations of voyeurism and possession of child pornography.
Josh Powell and his two sons have been living with his father, Steven Powell, since shortly after Susan Cox Powell went missing from the family’s Utah home in December 2009. Steven Powell pleaded not guilty Friday to 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of possession of child pornography after thousands of sexually-explicit images of young girls and women were found in his bedroom. Investigators have said it appeared those pictured were not aware that they were being photographed.
After the elder Powell’s arrest, Susan Cox Powell’s parents filed for custody of her young sons.
An attorney representing the state, an attorney for Chuck and Judy Cox and Josh Powell started arguing over the custody of the two boys Tuesday.
Nelson was originally supposed to issue her ruling this morning. That was delayed, however, after a request from KIRO TV to live stream the proceeding. Nelson ruled this afternoon to allow for the video footage.