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Detective offers support to children of Susan Cox Powell

Published: Friday, Sept. 30 2011 10:04 p.m. MDT

Detective Sgt. Teresa Berg, part of the Pierce County Sheriff's Office in Washington state, was brought in to help with the Powell case.

Marc Weaver, Deseret News

TACOMA, WASH. — It has been almost two years since the children of Josh and Susan Powell have seen their mom. From the boys' perspective, it has been a confusing and anxious time.

Last week in Washington state, the children were placed in foster care after their grandfather — whom they were living with along with their father — was arrested on charges of voyeurism and possession of child pornography. Then just two days ago, they were reunited with their maternal grandparents, whom they had not seen for quite some time.

To say the least, the two little boys have been on a roller coaster emotional journey. However, one bit of consistency they have had while in Washington is Pierce County sheriff detective Sgt. Teresa Berg.

One look inside Berg's office and it is apparent that she is not a typical investigator. Teddy bears sit next to official certificates and paperwork.

"I feel blessed to have this position," she said. "I love my job."

Berg is lead investigator of child homicides, as well as the head of the Special Assault Unit that handles sexual assault and abuse cases. Besides investigations, Berg and her fellow detectives protect for the rights of children.

Right now, that includes the Powell boys.

"It was a pretty instant bond," Berg said. "They're wonderful kids. They're smart (and) a joy to be around."

In August, when helicopter video showed the kids in their backyard as police served a search warrant on their grandfather's house, Berg was there too. But most of her work has been behind the scenes.

She will be there for court hearings and was there when the boys were removed from their grandfather's home. She says her team doesn't want to "just go in and remove the kids to remove them, but to go in and have cause and do this one time."

Berg began her work with the sheriff's office 25 years ago. She was the fifth female to join the department. That lead to her getting many of the cases involving kids … she was good with them and she liked it, even though the subject matter was sometimes heavy.

"For me, it's both sad to work this but it's joyful: one, because I can do something about it," Berg said. "I have the authority, so I can make kids safe if need be. And if it's too late, I can see justice for them."

When it comes to the Powell boys, Berg says she believes she is making a difference as a dedicated and empathic advocate in their corner.

"I treat them just like I would have hoped my kids would have been treated if something happens," she said.

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