Group buys plots, preventing Josh Powell from being buried next to boys he murdered

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 15 2012 11:12 p.m. MST

TACOMA, Wash. — The latest battle in the ongoing tense feud between the Cox and Powell families may be fought over Josh Powell's final resting spot.

Powell's relatives visited the public Woodbine Cemetery and selected a plot about 25 feet from where Charlie and Braden Powell were buried Monday, said Puyallup City Manager Ralph Dannenberg. They haven't paid for it yet, and Dannenberg said any sale will be put on hold because the parents of Powell's missing wife have threatened legal action.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Crime Stoppers of Tacoma and Pierce counties in Washington purchased the burial plots on both sides of the grave where the young boys were buried together this week in a single casket.

"We might not be able to keep Josh Powell out of the cemetery due to legalities, but by purchasing those two spots, they can't put a plaque, him or anything anywhere near those boys. They're going to have to move him to a different location," Pierce County Sheriff's Sgt. Ed Troyer told KIRO-FM.

"It's disgusting that a murder suspect would be buried next to his victims," Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said. "This (buying the plots) is the right thing to do."

The nonprofit organization said it purchased the plots to create a memorial site for the boys. "Any donations received over the cost of the memorial site will go toward beautification of the site and toward supporting other victims of crime in our community," it announced on its website.

The Powell family had asked that a casket similar to the one the boys were buried in be used for Josh Powell and placed near the boys' burial location.

"Just when you think it couldn't get any worse, it does," Anne Bremner, an attorney for the boys' grandparents Chuck and Judy Cox, said Wednesday.

Bremner said she was preparing a temporary restraining order and planned to file it with the court if necessary.

"When I first heard this, I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. I've just been sick to my stomach. I'm just kind of speechless," she told the Deseret News. "You shouldn't have the murderer be there with the victims for time and eternity."

Josh Powell killed his two sons Feb. 5, just minutes after they were taken to his Graham, Wash., home for a supervised visitation. He locked the social worker out of the home, hit the boys with a hatchet and ignited the gasoline he'd spread throughout the house. All three died in the inferno.

Bremner said the Cox family hoped to bury the boys' missing mother, Susan Cox Powell, next to the children when her body is found.

Bremner said Woodbine Cemetery in Puyallup is a public cemetery. She has been informed that the city isn't sure it has the power to refuse someone's request to buy a burial plot unless there's a court order.

Her motion for a temporary restraining order will argue that the idea of putting a murderer next to or near his victims is both emotionally damaging to the Cox family as well as being outrageous. While doing research, she said she learned about a case where a killer wanted to be buried next to his victim. The victim's family, however, exhumed the body and moved it elsewhere.

But Pastor, who along with Troyer made a personal donation to purchase the plots, said he hoped to reserve one of them for Susan Powell "or another crime victim that cannot afford to be buried."

Troyer said he hoped donations could be used to also erect a memorial to the children.

"The bottom line is Josh Powell will not be next to those two boys," Troyer said Wednesday. "For years and years and years, people are going to visit those graves and we want to make sure it's a safe place to visit without anyone having to be angry by seeing Josh anywhere near it."

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