By Rebecca Lane and Jessica Henrie
Family and friends of Susan Powell were shocked Sunday to learn the end to what has been a tragedy from start to finish.
After being named a “person of interest” in his wife’s disappearance from her home in West Valley City in 2009 and fighting to regain custody of his two young sons, Josh Powell’s attorney told The Associated Press that Josh Powell was upset. That explanation isn’t good enough for the family and friends seeking to understand why Powell would destroy his home in Graham, Wash. while he and his sons were still inside.
It happened around midday on Sunday. A social worker from Child Protective Services was escorting Charlie,7, and Braden, 5, for a supervised visit with their father, who was allowed two three-hour supervised visits each week and had not seen his sons since a custody case court hearing last Wednesday. Powell met her at the door, allowed his sons into his house and then blocked the social worker from following. The worker immediately phoned her superiors, reporting the incident and the scent of gas coming from inside the home.
The house burst into flames adding another another tragedy to the history of difficulties in the Powell family including the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell, the boys’ mother, in 2009.
“We will continue with our investigation into the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell, who is still missing,” said Sergeant Mike Powell, public information officer for the West Valley City Police Department. “That investigation still remains active, so we’re very limited on what can be released, but our focus at this point goes out to those who have been impacted by this event. We are saddened by this tragic event and our deepest condolences go out to those impacted.”
Powell also said the city has sent representatives to Washington, in lieu of information discovered by the department.
“Investigators have been sent to Washington to meet with Washington authorities, to determine if there is anything that might aid in their investigation,” he said.
The community is reaching out to support each other as they face this tragedy. Sunday night, friends and community members reached out and mourned the lose of the two young Powell boys at a vigil held at Carson Elementary School in Payallulp, Wash. where Charlie attended first grade.
“It was touching; the people I was hugging and crying with, their boys had played with her boys,” said Mike Winder, West Valley City mayor. “There were neighbors and friends who’d gone to church with them.
“We’re all grieving in our own ways, but there is a black cloud over this day because of that monster, Josh Powell.”
On Monday, school continued for students at Carson Elementary School.
In a statement sent home with students the school said, “I have sad news to report. Yesterday, Charlie Powell, one of our first grade students, died in a terrible tragedy. He was a nice friendly young man and our Carson family will miss him.”
Carson Elementary Schools has made plans to help those affected by the deaths of the young Powell boys.
“We have several counselors here that are going to be checking in and out of the classrooms,” said Karen Hansen, executive director of communications at Carson Elementary School. ” They will be here all day and as long as is needed into the future.”
Strangers from across the country have offered their condolences on Facebook. Hundreds of people from more than 40 states and seven countries expressed their sorrow and prayers about the tragedy on the “Friends and Family of Susan Powell” Facebook page since the murders took place. People from as far away as the Netherlands and New Zealand have commented on the Facebook page as well as people from neighboring states and towns.
On Twitter, people share their observations of this tragedy.
“As I’ve been watching the Josh Powell new tonight, I am struck by the idea that his life, murders and own death ahve become a great cautionary tale/object lesson in the destructive power of pornography,” said Jake Black who tweeted about the murders, then wrote in an email. “We know that both Josh and his father indulged in pornography, some of it illegal, other described by Josh’s own attorney as ‘tasteless but legal.’ Regardless, pornography.
“Over the last two years, the world has watched a man who could be described as ‘past feeling’ showed that such indulgence blackened his soul. Truly it caused him to objectify his wife and his five and seven year old sons to the point where (apparently) their very lives were, to him, meaningless.”
Stacie Carnley, Kate Bennion, Megan Adams, Ali Kirk, Holland Matheson, Kari Merril, and Kristian Ekenes contributed to this story.