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New Josh Powell documents detail custody battles, family squabbles

Published: Friday, March 2 2012 2:44 p.m. MST

Josh Powell speaks during a court hearing regarding the custody of his two sons, Sept. 28, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash.

Ted S. Warren

SALT LAKE CITY — Concerns about the behavior of Josh Powell's two young sons were noted soon after the boys were removed from his house and taken into state protective custody last year.

About 1,700 additional pages of documents relating to Josh Powell and his family were released Friday by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services.

Two weeks ago, the department released about 1,000 pages of documents including case notes, visitation reports, examinations and intake referrals concerning Charlie Powell, 7, and Braden Powell, 5. The documents shed light on the disturbing and negative influences Josh Powell was having on his young children. They also outlined in detail pornographic computer-generated images Powell had on his computer.

Friday, many documents recounting much of the same information was released. The documents include many court filings in the ongoing custody battle between Powell and his father-in-law, Chuck Cox, as well as the battle to release excerpts of Susan's childhood diaries. The documents also include information pertaining to Powell's father, Steven Powell, including details about criminal charges he is currently facing and his 1992 divorce.

Charlie and Braden were killed Feb. 5 by their father who struck the boys with a hatchet before dousing the inside of his house with gasoline and igniting a fireball. Josh Powell also died in the fire.

Since the murders, many have questioned whether enough was done by officials in Washington state to protect the boys and whether enough information was shared between law enforcement, welfare officials and the courts.

Last week, Chuck and Judy Cox, the grandparents of Charlie and Braden, spoke at a public hearing hosted by Washington state Sen. Pam Roach, who is calling for change in the way Child Protective Services and the Washington Department of Social and Health Services do business.

The Coxes believe that there were enough red flags — especially after Powell was ordered to undergo a psychosexual evaluation four days before he killed his sons — that he should not have been allowed any type of visitation with the children.

Like in the first set of documents released, Friday's documents also outlined potential behavioral problems with the children, which seemed to improve after they placed with the Cox family.

The children were placed in the custody of the Cox family on Sept 22, 2011. In once case report, state officials noted that Josh Powell "has not been diagnosed with anything but there is a concern about possible mental illness," and wrote "He is a suspect in the murder of his wife Susan Cox Powell." A later diagnosis concluded Powell possibly had adjustment disorder with anxiety and traits of narcissistic personality disorder.

A child health and education tracking report for Charlie Powell dated Oct. 19, 2011, noted that "Charlie has told his grandparents that he does not like school because people don't like him. The grandparents think this is because of the situation they are in and what other children may be hearing or saying."

The report noted concerns that Charlie "worries about everything, he can be selfish" and at times anti-social.

A report for Braden noted that he "seems to like it when he takes something and it makes the other person mad, cry or get in trouble and seems to have no regard for others." Yet another report showed that Braden felt sad when others were hurt.

Both the Cox family and Josh Powell agreed that counseling was needed for both children.

After the children were taken into protective custody and about to be placed with the Coxes, Steve Downing, the Coxes' attorney, noted that there would be a "a national media crush based upon the nature of this case."

The Department of Social and Health Services recently announced who were selected to serve on the Child Fatality Review Team for the Powell children. A review team is selected for every DSHS case that involves a death. The 12-member team includes attorneys, police, child welfare advocates, a psychologist and Washington state lawmakers.

Additional updates will be posted as reporters continue to read the documents.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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