The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday April 2nd

Explosion kills husband, sons of missing Utah woman

SEATTLE (MCT) — A case whose sad twists and turns perplexed authorities for more than two years took a last, tragic turn Sunday when what was left of missing Utah stockbroker Susan Powell’s family died in a powerful and apparently murderous fire.

Her two young sons had just arrived for a supervised visit with her husband, Josh Powell, when an explosive fire ripped through his home near Graham, Wash., killing him, 5-year-old Braden and 7-year-old Charles.

Authorities said Josh Powell, who has been a person of interest in his wife’s 2009 disappearance from their Utah home during a snowstorm, is believed to have set the fast-moving blaze.

“This is pure evil. This was not a tragedy. This is the murder of two young children,” Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor told reporters.

A state Child Protective Services worker had dropped off the boys for what was to have been a supervised court-ordered visit. She was about to follow the children into the house when Powell blocked her entrance and locked the door, said Sherry Hill, spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Social and Health Services.

The worker called her supervisor from her car, reported that she had smelled gas in the house, and was ordered to call 911. She did.

“And then the house blew up,” Hill said in an interview.

Gary Franz of Graham Fire and Rescue said the house was “fully involved” in a scorching blaze by the time firefighters arrived. There were no other victims, he said.

Powell’s lawyer, Jeffrey Bassett, had received an email from his client only moments before, although he didn’t find it until two hours later. It read: “I’m sorry, goodbye.”

The story of the Powell family has unfolded in increasingly improbable details since the night Josh Powell, then living with his wife in West Valley City, Utah, packed his two boys into the car in the middle of the night — in the midst of a heavy snowstorm — purportedly to take them camping.
Susan Powell, 28 at the time, has not been seen since.

Josh Powell told authorities his wife may have decided to disappear, or perhaps committed suicide.
Now, it appears that the two boys, who have been living since September with Susan’s parents, Charles and Judith Cox of Puyallup, Wash., were starting to share recollections of the night their mother disappeared.

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