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.