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New Josh Powell documents detail custody battles, family squabbles

Published: Friday, March 2 2012 5:37 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. The intense feud between the Cox and Powell families. Josh Powell's "triggers." Steven Powell's divorce.

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. The documents included court filings, case reports, doctor evaluations and more.

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, the remaining case documents were released. Much of documents repeated what was already reported. But they also shed more light into the mental state of Powell and his sons and how their attitudes seemed to change over the months they were monitored. But while the psychological well-being of the children seemed to genuinely improve, Powell only seemed to become better trained on how to give the right answers to observers.

Powell killed Charlie and Braden Feb. 5 by striking the boys with a hatchet before dousing the inside of his house with gasoline and igniting a fireball. 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.

One of the major revelations in the set of documents released last month was that approximately 400 computer-generated pornographic images — some depicting incest — were found on Powell's computer seized in West Valley City in 2009. In court documents released Friday, prosecutors in Washington noted on Nov. 21, 2011, to DSHS that they were hearing for the first time about "5-6 images released of computer generated incestuous child porn. No one has seen these images up here, don't know how important they are," John Long, with the Washington Attorney General's Office, said in an email to the state.

On Jan. 26, 2012, just 10 days before the boys were killed, the state sent a letter to the doctor who conducted the psychological evaluation on Powell stating they had learned the number of images on Powell's computer was more in the range of 400.

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

The children were placed in the custody of the Cox family on Sept 22, 2011. A state report on Charlie from Sept. 26 noted that "counseling is recommended given the multiple stressors in his life."

A child health and education tracking report for Charlie 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.

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