Powell children suffered 'chop injury' before dying of carbon monoxide poisoning

Published: Monday, Feb. 6 2012 8:18 p.m. MST

Sunday night at Charlie's school, Emma L. Carson Elementary, classmates, friends and people who had never met the young boy lit candles, left stuffed toy animals and posted signs like, "Our hearts go out to Charlie and Braden," during a candlelight vigil.

"It's tragic. I can't even imagine killing your own kids," said Miah Dollente, whose 6-year-old daughter, Faith, was one of Charlie's classmates. "Who does that? I don't understand it."

"It's not real yet," Cox said of the boys' deaths.

"Our family is in shock," she said. "Everything in the house reminds you (of the boys). … I'm still thinking I'll see the boys tomorrow."

Cox talked about how Charlie wanted to get a new aquarium for his birthday and how she expected to walk into her father's home and see the boys fighting over a stuffed animal like any other day.

"It's not fair that everybody has been taken away from our family," she said of both the boys and her sister, Susan Cox Powell, who has been missing since 2009.

Three police officers were visible at Emma L. Carson Elementary Monday morning as parents dropped off their children.

"It's very sad here," said Karen Hansen, executive director of communications for the Puyallup School District. "The district feels very bad about this tragedy."

Teachers and staff at the school, where Charlie attended first grade, were offered counseling before school began Monday. They were also given a list of ideas about how best to address the sensitive topic with students.

A handout suggested telling students: "I have sad news to report. Yesterday, Charlie Powell, one of our fist grade students, died in a terrible tragedy. He was a nice friendly young man and our Carson family will miss him."

Hansen said guidance counselors were also present and teachers planned to be "very vigilant" about watching children for any signs that may warrant help.

The fire happened Sunday shortly after the boys were brought over to Josh Powell's house, 8119 189th Street Court East, for one of their bi-weekly supervised three-hour visits. It was the first supervised visit since a judge ruled Wednesday that their maternal grandparents Chuck and Judy Cox would continue to have temporary custody of the boys.

The boys ran toward the home, ahead of the social worker there to oversee the visit. By the time she got to the door, Powell had let his sons in but locked her out, Graham Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Franz said.

"He pushed her out. He blocked her out," Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said. "The whole thing was planned."

The social worker called her supervisors to report that she could smell gas, and moments later the home erupted in flames.

The fire was intense, but there was no explosion, Troyer said. Windows popped out because of the heat, which some residents may have mistaken for an explosion.

Just minutes before, Josh Powell had sent an email to his attorney, Jeff Bassett, which simply said, "I'm sorry, goodbye." Bassett did not see the email until he was told about the fire.

"It's not a shock that he's capable of doing that, but the fact he actually did it shocks us," Denise Cox said. "That was the shocker."

Cox said the boys on Sunday did not want to go to their father's house, which he reportedly was renting, because they wanted to stay and play with their cousins instead.

Sunday's tragedy came just four days after a hearing in Pierce County Superior Court in which a judge ordered the children to remain in the custody of the Cox family and Powell to undergo a psychosexual evaluation. The evaluation was ordered because of purported images found on one of Powell's computers by West Valley police.

During the hearing, the guardian ad litem reported Branden and Charlie were making great progress and doing well with Chuck and Judy Cox.

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