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Documents reveal disturbing influence Josh Powell had on his children

Young boys reflect father's anti-Mormon views

Published: Saturday, Feb. 18 2012 9:21 a.m. MST

His lack of involvement in the church was a point of contention in their marriage. One friend and neighbor told the Deseret News that Susan Powell had threatened to divorce him and take the children if he didn't become active in the church by the end of 2009 and obtain a temple recommend by their anniversary the next spring.

On Sept. 23, 2011, the day after Steven Powell was arrested, Josh Powell asked to file a dependency action regarding his boys, calling their maternal grandparents "the most dangerous people on the planet to my sons."

Just days before Powell's Feb. 1 court appearance, his brother Michael Powell launched a website criticizing the Coxes, police and child protective service workers. Yet despite the bad blood between Josh Powell and the Cox family, Josh Powell told a social worker he was making efforts to mend fences with his in-laws.

Josh Powell wrote in a Feb. 2 email that he'd told his family to shut down the website. "I re-emphasized to them that I am working hard to build bridges with the Coxes for my sons' sake and they should help me do that," Powell wrote.

Final home visit

Just two days before the boys were killed, a social worker visited the children at the Cox home in Puyallup, Wash., and described how excited the boys were to show off their new bedroom. Construction on an addition to the home had just been completed.

"They both ran up the stairs and into the new room which had only their beds set up at the moment with their toy box and dressers still in the adjacent room," a social worker reported. "The boys ran around their room very excitedly talking about how they have fancy lights and lots of room to play in. Charlie and Braden showed this worker toys/items they had received for their birthday presents last month. Charlie and Braden fought over a couple of the toys, typical behavior for siblings and their age.

"The boys stated they were happy living there and felt good with the Cox family. Neither boy mentioned returning home to dad at this visit. However, Braden did ask this worker to take him to see his dad."

In the same report, a social worker said the Cox family expressed concern that Josh Powell "didn't seem to make the most" of his supervised visitation with his two boys. The Coxes said that information came from Powell's pastor, Timothy Atkins, who until recently had been allowing Josh Powell to have some supervised visits with the children at his home.

"They stated (the) Atkins had said Josh doesn't seem to interact with them as much as he would have expected and let them play with the Atkins' kids more than anything," a report states. Earlier reports from the Atkins family, however, indicate they felt Josh was engaged with his children during visits at their house.

Atkins had just days earlier told social workers his family no longer wanted to help with supervised visits. "As more information has been made available to us through this process, we have realized how much we did not know and have still to learn about the status of the Susan Powell case and its relationship with the custody case for Josh Powell," Atkins said in an email dated Feb. 2.

Other reports indicated that Josh Powell no longer wanted to have visits at Atkins' home.

Imminent arrest?

Following the Feb. 1 court hearing, Chuck and Judy Cox "expressed concern" that another review hearing wouldn't be held until July "because it was another six months of Josh being able to interfere with things and attempt to cause trouble in their home."

But the Coxes expressed hope that Josh Powell would be arrested before then in connection with their daughter's disappearance. The Coxes said Utah investigators had told them "arrests would be made as early as March and probably before July," a report states.

On Feb. 5, the day of the fire, reports indicate that Chuck Cox called a social worker to see if he could confirm that the bodies inside the house were really his grandsons and son-in-law. The worker confirmed that it appeared to be true.

"Mr. Cox stated that the state and visit supervisor did everything they could do within the law but the law is not set up to deal with people like Josh," the social worker wrote.

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