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UPDATED: Investigators try to find more answers today in Powell case

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Feb. 6, 2012 at 7:01 am with 14 Comments »
February 6, 2012 6:41 pm

UPDATE: Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office reports Charlie and Braden Powell died of carbon monoxide poisoning with “chopping injuries” as a secondary cause. Authorities said they recovered a hatchet at the scene.

Josh Powell died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The boys’ deaths were ruled homicide, Josh Powell’s suicide.


UPDATE: West Valley City, Utah, Police Chief Buzz Nielsen just addressed reporters at Powell’s Graham house.

Nielsen said Powell had no idea where his department is on its investigation in Susan Powell’s disappearance.

“Wherever we are in the criminal case, Josh didn’t know about it,” the chief said. “What he did was a decision he made. It had nothing to do with where we are with the case.”

Nielsen said he was optimistic his department would solve the case even with Powell dead.

“I promised the Coxes I wasn’t giving up, and I’m not,” Nielsen said. “We want to get some closure here.”



PREVIOUS POST: Investigators returned to the scene today of a violent house fire Sunday in Graham that killed Josh Powell and his two young sons.

They found two five-gallon gas cans in the home, including one near the bodies. Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said investigators found gas spread throughout the house.

He added they may never know if Powell had spread the gas around the home before the boys arrived Sunday afternoon for a scheduled visit or right afterward.

Investigators say Powell also sent longer emails to family members and his pastor shortly before the fire started. The emails, which were sent moments before the fire, included instructions on what to do with his money.

None of the emails mentioned the fate of Powell’s wife, Susan Cox Powell. They’ve found no other clues at the scene as to her whereabouts.

One said, “I can’t live without my boys,” Troyer said.

Investigators also said Powell had given away toys and clothes to the Goodwill over the weekend.

“As the day goes along, we are going to fill some holes,” Troyer said. He warned, however, that investigators may never know all the answers.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office also was conducting autopsies today on Powell and his sons, 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden. The examinations were still going on as of 1 p.m. so there was no information about the results.

Troyer said, based on their preliminary investigation, there were no gunshots fired in the house before the explosion. Detectives found no weapons in the house.

A social worker dropped the boys, 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden, off at Powell’s rental home in the 8100 block of 189th Street Court East on Sunday afternoon for a supervised visit with their father. Powell had “very recently” moved into the home, Troyer said.

The boys went inside and Powell shut the door on the social worker.

The social worker pounded on the doors and windows. The worker smelled gas. (Graham Fire & Rescue reports there was no natural gas to the home.)

Minutes later, the house exploded and was engulfed in flames. Investigators later found the bodies of Powell and his sons in one of the home’s rooms.

Authorities believe the fire was intentionally set. Shortly before the fire, Powell sent an email to his attorney and family members.

“I’m sorry, goodbye,” it read.

A cousin also told the Salt Lake Tribune that he had also received a voicemail from Powell.

Investigators from the West Valley City (Utah) Police Department will be in Pierce County later today. They’ve been investigating the 2009 disappearance of Susan Cox Powell.

Troyer said Pierce County detectives will be working with their Utah counterparts. Police Chief Buzz Nelson was headed to Pierce County today.

Meanwhile, neighbors in the Silver Creek area around Carson Elementary may soon be wearing purple ribbons to honor the memory of the Powell children.

A local florist has offered to donate them, according to an online

The Silver Creek community also is working on organizing a bake sale to raise money for the funeral costs for the children.


Josh Powell saw sons as his property, boys’ grandparents say

Police: Josh Powell set fire that killed him and his 2 sons at Graham-area home

Powell timeline begins with wife’s 2009 disappearance

Photo gallery: Explosion at the Powell home

Could Wash. have done more to protect Powell boys?

Josh Powell discussed hope, frustrations in recent court filing

Leave a comment Comments → 14
  1. NineInchNachosII says:

    the Traveller is in Jail, but this dangerous psychotic was allowed to roam free and murder 2 children. Way to go pierce county!

  2. PumainTacoma says:

    Another PIERCE COUNTY JUDICIAL FLOP…. questions for all the DSHS, judicial officers and elected law enforcement officials;
    1) Why were children who were talking about their mother’s death being brought back to their father… who the judge stated needed mental evaluation?
    2) The kids were previously living with the father who had pornography; then brought back to their father’s house (after the judge stated he needed mental evaluation)?
    3) If the social worker heard the children talk of their mother’s death why were they brought back to the house?
    4) Why are children given to their father who has a history and being investigated for murder allowed to have unsupervised visits in the CONTROL of his own home? HELLO.

    Another Pierce County FLOP for protecting children from abusers.

  3. PumainTacoma says:

    “Josh Powell was allowed supervised visits with the boys, but as late as December, he was still trying to win his kids back by filing a request in Superior Court. Last week, Judge Kathryn Nelson had ordered Josh Powell to undergo a mental health examination.!!!!!!!

  4. loneranger says:



  5. ReadNLearn says:

    Well…I hope they:

    1. Make sure that it is his body and not someone else’s.

    2. Determine whether the child porn that is supposed to be his father’s is actually his or not, and that might give a motive for this murder and the previous one.

  6. This is not about the system (if you don’t like the process, change it) or DSHS (again…don’t like the laws they are forced to follow? quit commenting here and get off your butt and do something about them)…this is about a murderous man taking the lives of innocents. Thoughts are with the Cox family.

  7. LittleBantyRooster says:

    Although this is a great tragedy in so many ways; we must also remember the good things that take place in the Pierce County judicial system. No one ever remembers the good things that happen, but in an instant can place judgement on the bad.

    Rest in peace little Charile, Braden and Susan.

  8. fivecardstud says:

    It’s really too bad he took control over life and death of those boys. That was a very selfish sicko and he didn’t deserve those boys. Well I hope Josh’s dad is happy that his perversion was instilled into his son as well as it was.

  9. uintahsp says:

    No, this is about the system as well as a violent criminal. Why is it nearly always the children who get caught in the middle? The parents get their rights; everybody in the system keeps their jobs espec the judges. I say just end the system. It’s not working ; probably the cases where it does work would turn out all right anyhow because of decent, well-meaning subjects; let’s just save a whole lot of $$$ and shut it down. The libertarians sound smarter every day.

  10. Jupiter25 says:

    Too late to do anything good for the children now. Rest in Peace boys.

  11. lovethemountains says:

    uintahsp, “do away with the system.” Brilliant. There would then be no oversight of helpless children at all. Did a double homicide take place in this case? Of course, but eliminating the system will do nothing but increase drastic actions by those inclined to do such. There have been thousands of children the state has taken from one or other of the parents and such action very likely saved their life or thier mental health.

  12. Capybara91 says:

    How incredibly easy and sanctimonious (with the benefit of hindsight) to blame everyone from Judge Nelson to CPS to Mormons for this tragedy. They all should have been omniscient and anticipated the actions of a devious lunatic.

  13. No matter how long you wring your hands about it, or try and prevent it, the simple fact of the matter is you can’t prevent truly crazy behavior. All the counseling, court orders, and supervision in the world can’t prevent this type of tragedy, much as we’d like to try.

  14. ReadNLearn says:

    Are they 100% to a DNA level that this is really Josh Powell?

    Very small possibility, but anything is possible.

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