Josh Powell's family: He didn't cause "tragedy"

A sign in tribute to Charlie and Braden Powell is shown posted at a memorial Feb. 7, 2012, at Carson Elementary School in Puyallup, Wash., where Charlie attended school. AP Photo

Two people who said they're related to Josh Powell blamed the government, "religious bias" and "the internet kangaroo courts" for what the family's endured since the disappearance of Powell's wife Susan in 2009, CBS affiliate KIRO-TV in Seattle reported Wednesday.

The couple came forward after authorities said Josh Powell torched his house Sunday while he and his two boys, 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden, were still inside. Powell, long a person of interest in his wife's disappearance, locked out the social worker accompanying the boys on the state-supervised visit, the police said.

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Maurice and Patti Leach, who identified themselves as Powell's uncle and aunt, said in their Tuesday night statement that they were disillusioned by the legal system that granted custody rights for the boys to Susan Cox Powell's parents.

(At left, watch a "CBS This Morning" report on the case)

"In our hearts and minds we feel that this family tragedy was set into motion from the beginning due in part to the various questionable government agencies' practices, religious bias, the internet kangaroo courts, and sensationalized news media, all of whom have circumvented the laws that protect all of our rights to due process," the Leachs said in the statement.

Josh Powell claimed that on the night Susan Powell vanished, he took the boys from their home in West Valley City, Utah, on a late-night camping trip. Authorities eventually searched the central Utah desert but found nothing.

Susan Powell's father said that when police went to the family home after she was reported missing, they found a wet spot in the house being dried by two fans. Police have not commented further on what they found.

Read the Leachs' complete statement below:

We are grievously saddened at the loss that the Cox and Powell families have suffered. There is no justification for the loss of two innocent children, Charles and Braden.

Josh had asked us to step in and offer our support in helping him as the next patriarchs of the family with the absence of Steve, his father. We were also asked by Josh if we would offer a safe haven for his sons should the need arise; our answer was absolutely yes.

We felt that Josh represented himself using a great deal of restraint with patience and dignity at his children's custody hearing, even though it did not work out in his favor. Our family's suggestions to Josh both before and after the hearing were that if he had any credible facts, no matter how disturbing, he should present it so that due process would be possible. We believe that Josh continued to use this restraint because of the fear of losing his sons and the love he had for all of his family members that he so desperately tried to protect.

When we arrived in the state of Washington we believed in America's legal system. After witnessing how broken the system was and the events that took place before our eyes, both inside the court room and outside, we left for home in disillusionment of the legal system and concern for our family's posterity.

In our hearts and minds we feel that this family tragedy was set into motion from the beginning due in part to the various questionable government agencies' practices, religious bias, the internet kangaroo courts, and sensationalized news media, all of whom have circumvented the laws that protect all of our rights to due process. We believe that the stewardship of the responsibilities that have been entrusted to those organizations and individuals has been completely compromised.

America, this is not only a tragedy, Sunday was a dark day for all of our families.

Uncle Maurice, Aunt Patti

P.S. Josh, Susan, Charles, and Braden, you will always remain in our hearts.

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