'I'm afraid for their lives,' Powell social worker tells 911 dispatcher

Funeral for Charlie and Braden Powell set for Saturday

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 7 2012 9:00 a.m. MST

In this undated photo provided by Chuck and Judy Cox, Chuck Cox plays with his grandsons, Charlie, right, and Braden, left. Charlie and Braden were killed along with their father, Josh Powell, on Sunday in what police said was an intentional fire set by Powell. Chuck Cox is the father of Powell's wife, Susan, who has been missing since 2009.

Courtesy Chuck and Judy Cox, Associated Press

The Leach family, relatives of Josh Powell, released a statement. Read it here.

PUYALLUP, Wash — Before Sunday's fiery inferno even started, Elizabeth Griffin-Hall feared for the lives of young Charlie and Braden Powell.

She had just delivered the children to their father, Josh Powell, for a court-ordered three-hour supervised visit Sunday when he locked her out of his house

"Josh Powell will not let me in the door, what should I do?" she anxiously asks a 911 dispatcher. "I'm really shocked, and I can hear one of the kids crying. But he still wouldn't let me in."

Hall's call was one of several chilling 911 recordings released Tuesday night by the Pierce County Sheriff's Office regarding the fire Powell set at his home, killing him and his two boys. The tapes were among several new pieces of information about Josh Powell uncovered Tuesday.

In the 911 call, Hall anxiously asks the dispatcher how long it will take for police to arrive.

"They have to respond to emergency, life threatening situations first," the dispatcher responds.

"Well this could be life threatening. He went to court on Wednesday and he didn't get his kids back, and I'm afraid for their lives," Hall says.

She tells dispatchers the children got just a step ahead of her, and when she got to the door, he "shut it in my face. ... He looked right at me and closed the door."

Hall said she knocked and rang the doorbell several times and "begged him to let me in." She then got into her car and backed it out of the driveway because she could smell gasoline. She can be heard in the recording explaining that Powell was part of a high profile case. She said the children were inside the house for about 10 minutes.

Hall then made a second 911 call, apparently after the fire in the home began.

"There's two little boys in the house, they're 5 and 7, and there's an adult man. He has supervised visitation and he blew up the house and the kids," she said.

A spokesman for the Washington Department of Social and Health Services said the social worker was extremely distraught over the crime.

"By all accounts she's devastated. She's been working with and coming to love these kids over a period of months," Thomas Shapley said Tuesday. "She was very close to these two boys. And being in that close proximity was very devastating for her."

A meeting was held Tuesday for the department's peer support group to talk about the fears and concerns other social workers might have because of Sunday's tragic double murder-suicide, Shapley said. Everyone in the department was devastated over what happened.

"Children are our focus. We work so hard to protect children," he said. "We take it to heart."

Under state law, a Child Fatality Review will now be conducted by an independent panel. Shapley said his own department was studying case notes and files to learn as much as they could.

"We had been working with this case and doing supervised visits since the beginning of October. At no time was there any indication of threat to the children or suicide on his part," he said.

Another 911 call was also released Tuesday from a very upset Alina Powell, Josh Powell's sister. It's unclear exactly when it was made, but the call appears to have been placed before the fire.

Josh Powell left a voicemail for his sister about 20 minutes before the fire started. He said: "This is Josh. I'm calling to say goodbye. I'm not able to live without my sons, and I'm not able to go on anymore. I'm sorry to everyone I've hurt. Goodbye."

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