Documents detail Josh Powell's 'anger triggers'

Published: Friday, March 2 2012 9:19 p.m. MST

During a supervised visit on Nov. 27, state worker Elizabeth Griffin-Hall noted that Braden asked his dad about his favorite colors. "Dad said, 'All the colors are my favorite just like Mommy.' Charlie argued and said Grandma said that purple was Mommy's favorite. Dad said that she loved all the colors and they knew Mommy so it didn't matter what other people said."

Later Braden said, "'They found Mommy in the desert.' Dad asked them, 'Who said that?' The boys didn't answer Dad and stopped talking. Dad became agitated and turned red. He asked the boys again and they did not respond," Griffin-Hall wrote. "I changed the subject back to eating dessert. Dad did not appear to recover his balance and composure during the rest of the visit. He remained agitated and seemed angry at the situation."

Powell letters

Handwritten letters Powell wrote to his boys after they were removed from his house and staying with the Coxes were also released Friday. Powell indicated that he wrote a letter to each son every day. The short letters generally said, "I love you" and "I can't wait to see you." In a letter dated Oct. 3, 2011, Powell tells Charlie, "Everything I do is for you."

On Oct. 6, 2011, Powell asks his sons to write back to him, noting that he had not received letters from them yet. On Oct. 8, he wrote to his young sons that his letters to them may be delayed because he was told to send them "through the government" instead of directly to the Cox family.

Mother comments

Detailed accounts of the visits Elizabeth Griffin-Hall supervised on Sundays at Josh Powell's home also shed light on discussions between the father and his sons about their missing mother.

• During a dinner conversation with the boys' temporary foster parents on Sept. 26, 2011, Charlie "was agitated, especially talking about police." He told the family police were supposed to collect information, not make people feel bad or say things that aren't true.

• That same evening, Charlie "talked about a graveyard, and 'of course they're going to find bones there,'" a report states. "Then he said, 'I'm talking about Susan, because she's a girl and he's a boy.'"

• During an Oct. 2, 2011, supervised visit with his father, "Braden asked if Dad lived in the same house as with Mommy. Daddy said that home was in Colorado and he was here. He redirected Braden's attention to photos," Griffin-Hall wrote.

• At a Dec. 4, 2011 visit, Griffin-Hall reported that a Christmas tree and lights were up and that Josh Powell left ornaments out for the boys to use to decorate. Charlie found Susan's stocking, but Powell told him to return it to the box. The boy, instead, placed it on the floor, where it remained for the rest of the visit.

A previous report, also released Friday, describes a May 2010 visit with Chuck Cox's elderly parents. Cox reported that "Braden announced after looking at a woman in a magazine and pointing at her chest, 'Mommy oucheey.'"

Mormon animosity

Although Susan Powell was active in the LDS Church in Utah and Josh Powell had resumed church attendance with her shortly before she disappeared, in an interview following his father's arrest, Powell described his religious affiliation as "not Mormon." He would later report in an evaluation that he believed the Coxes and a "militant faction" of Mormons were trying to "kidnap" his children.

Powell's animosity toward The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and how it rubbed off on his children were noted in several documents:

• At a Dec. 4, 2011 supervised visit at Josh Powell's home, Griffin-Hall wrote: "Charlie said, 'We are good Mormon boys.' Dad said, 'No, you are not Mormon and don't let anyone tell you that you are.'"

• A monthly status report from Family Preservation Services dated Nov. 28, 2011, noted that Charlie had symptoms of depression/anxiety and that the children "were initially angry at the grandparents due to beliefs that the grandparents had done 'bad things' to their mom and that 'Mormons do bad things to families.'"

• Listed as an area of concern to evaluators during Josh Powell's psychological examination was the fact that Charles and Braden were both heard talking about "Mormons trying to steal them," "Mormons trying to harm them" and stating that they "hate Jesus."

• In a Feb. 18, 2011, Department of Social and Health Services report, it was noted that Charlie proclaimed at school, "The Mormons killed my brother and my mom." When a student asked if Charlie had a brother, he replied: "Yeah, it's just me and my dad."

The Department of Social and Health Services recently announced who was 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.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com, emorgan@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam, DNewsCrimeTeam

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