Documents reveal disturbing influence Josh Powell had on his children

Young boys reflect father's anti-Mormon views

Published: Friday, Feb. 17 2012 9:00 p.m. MST

In this undated photo provided by Chuck and Judy Cox, Chuck Cox sits with his grandsons, Charlie, left, and Braden, right, at the Coxes home in Pullayup, Wash. Charlie and Braden were killed along with their father, Josh Powell, on Sunday in what police said was an intentional fire set by Powell. Chuck Cox is the father of Powell's wife, Susan, who has been missing since 2009.

Courtesy Chuck and Judy Cox, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

PUYALLUP, Wash. — New documents released Friday reveal much more about Josh Powell, what he had on his computer, and shed light on the disturbing and negative influences he was having on his young children.

They also reveal for the first time Powell's own detailed description of the camping trip he said he took on the night his wife, Susan, disappeared in December 2009.

The Department of Social and Health Services in Washington released nearly 1,000 pages of documents of child welfare records related to the Powell family. The records include court documents, case notes, visitation reports, examinations and intake referrals concerning young Charlie and Braden Powell.

The documents reveal details about 400 computer-generated sexual images found on Powell's computer that were turned over to Washington child welfare officials during the custody battle between Powell and his missing wife's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox. Because of the way a Utah judge had released the images, only a limited number of people were on an approved list to view them, according to the records.

Many depicted well-known cartoon characters such as the Simpsons, the Flintstones, Jungle Book, Superman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rugrats, SpongeBob SquarePants and others engaging in sexual activity, including incest, group sex, sodomy and more.

"While drawings may not be illegal, per se, they were very suggestive of a global approval of sex between and adult and a minor," Dr. James Manley wrote.

The psychologist said the number of images suggested Powell likely had a high degree of interest in such activities and said Powell may not be "a stable and appropriate resource for his children." He recommended Josh Powell undergo a psychosexual evaluation to obtain more information about him.

The boys 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.

During his custody battle with his in-laws, Josh Powell forbade any Mormon influence on his sons, details strongly supported in the newly released documents. After the Coxes were awarded temporary custody of Charlie and Braden, Josh Powell's supervised visits with the children were scheduled for Wednesday evenings and on Sundays during the time when the Coxes attended LDS services.

Susan Powell's disappearance

During a psychological evaluation, conducted Dec. 9, 2011, Powell described his actions on the night his wife disappeared.

He said he decided to go camping with the boys around midnight. He said he went to the Pony Express Trail in the desert about 40 miles away from his West Valley home and built a fire and let the fire smolder while the children played. He also brought a small generator to power the electric heater he brought along "to keep everybody warm," the documents state.

In a followup phone call between Powell and Manley, the psychologist, Powell clarified that his wife was "OK with it," referring to taking the boys camping. He said her biggest concern was that the boys stay warm.

He said prior to leaving home, he "washed" the couch and placed a fan nearby to dry it.

"We made an agreement that I would wash the couch and she would shovel the walkway," he said.

Powell's claims of a midnight camping trip in winter immediately placed him under suspicion, but no charges were forthcoming in the disappearance of his wife.

Mormon comments

In February 2011, then 6-year-old Charlie Powell told a group of students at Carson Elementary School that he did not have a younger brother.

"The Mormons killed my brother and my mom," he told them, according to the welfare report.

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere