The bottom line is Josh Powell will not be next to those two boys. 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. —Pierce County Sheriff's Sgt. Ed Troyer
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."
Meanwhile, like his son, Steven Powell has informed police that he has no interest in talking to them.
On Tuesday, Steven Powell, who is currently in the Pierce County Jail awaiting trial on 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of possession of child pornography, filed a notice in Pierce County Superior Court invoking his right to remain silent.
In the one-page notice addressed to seven different agencies from Utah and Washington — including West Valley police, the FBI, all of Utah law enforcement and the Pierce County Sheriff's Office — Powell said he "does not wish to discuss or make statements of any kind regarding any subject matter including, but not limited to, statements pertaining to any alleged or suspected criminal activity."
Last week, West Valley Police Chief Thayne "Buzz" Nielsen confirmed his office wanted to talk to Steven Powell since his son killed himself and his two young boys.
"We probably want to talk to him because of this, because they lived together in the house. There should be things he'd probably like to talk to us about, we hope," Nielsen said.
The case of Susan Powell, who disappeared in 2009 from her West Valley home, is still an active investigation. Members of her family believe Steven Powell has information that could end the search for her remains.
Wednesday, police acknowledged that Powell had the right to remain silent.
"He has that ability and right if he doesn't want to talk to us. That was one of the issues with Josh," said West Valley Police Sgt. Mike Powell, who is not related to Josh Powell or his family. "With the recent events, we would be interested in speaking with (Steven Powell), see if there's anything he might be able to provide that's beneficial."
Steven Powell is scheduled to go on trial in Tacoma for his criminal charges on March 20.
Wednesday, KIRO-TV in Seattle reported that there may be information on Josh Powell's computers about where his wife could be. But Pierce County investigators fear they don't have the computer knowledge to find it.
Powell, a computer programmer, knew how to encrypt files and likely filed away crucial pieces of information, Pierce County sheriff's detective Gary Sanders said. "But they're hidden within hard drives or stuff, where we'll never find them."
In Utah, West Valley police recently spoke to a hotel worker who claims to have spotted Josh Powell and his sons on the morning Susan Powell disappeared. Robin Snyder said she was interviewed by detectives just before Powell's sons were murdered.
In 2009, Snyder was working at the Comfort Inn in Sandy.
"They were eating danishes, and I was standing behind Charlie, and then he looked up at me and said, 'Do you know what happened to my mom?' And I thought that was really odd," Snyder said.43 comments on this story
Shortly after that, she said, Josh Powell took the boys out a back door and was gone.
Contributing: Associated Press