Lawyer: Powell boy spoke of mommy "in the trunk"

In an undated picture Susan Powell seen with her sons Braden and Charles. CBS

The two young sons of Susan Powell had started talking to their grandparents about things they remembered from the night their mother vanished before they were killed themselves in an alleged murder-suicide orchestrated by their father, the lawyer for Susan Powell's parents said.

Josh Powell, who was a person of interest in his wife's 2009 disappearance, left behind a simple and short, a farewell to the world after two years of being scrutinized in the media, hammered by police and questioned by judges, prosecutors and social workers, living his life under a microscope since the day his wife vanished.

"I'm sorry, goodbye," Powell wrote in an email to his attorney just minutes before authorities say he set fire to his home, killing himself and his two young sons days after he was denied custody and ordered to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation.

The Sunday blaze at Powell's home brought yet another twist in the very public scandal that began when Susan Powell vanished in 2009. The case had since spiraled into a salacious saga of finger-pointing and accusations of sex and lies — and now the unthinkable loss of two young lives caught in the crossfire.

Josh Powell, kids die in alleged murder-suicide
Did authorities do enough to protect Powell boys?
Video: Helicopter footage of explosion scene (KIRO)

On Sunday, the lawyer for Susan Powell's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, told the AP the children recently had started talking to their grandparents about their mother's disappearance.

"They were beginning to verbalize more," said attorney Steve Downing, whose clients had custody of the children. "The oldest boy talked about that they went camping and that Mommy was in the trunk. Mom and Dad got out of the car and Mom disappeared."

A social worker brought the two boys, 5-year-old Braden and 7-year-old Charles, to Josh Powell's home Sunday for what was to be a supervised visit. They rushed toward the home, leaving the social worker behind. By the time she got to the door, Powell had let his sons in but locked her out, Graham Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Franz told The Associated Press.

Pierce County sheriff's Sgt. Ed Troyer said emails Powell sent just prior to the blaze seemed to confirm that Powell planned the deadly fire. He didn't elaborate on the content of the emails.

Jeffrey Bassett, who represented Powell in the custody case, said he received an ominous email from his client just minutes before the fire.

"I'm sorry, goodbye," it read.

Investigators tried to fill in holes Monday in the case with an arson investigation at the home and autopsies on Josh Powell and his sons, said Troyer. Local detectives also are meeting with police from West Valley City, Utah, who have been looking for Susan Powell.

Steve Richards, assistant chief of Graham Fire and Rescue, said crews were assessing the remnants of the home to determine how the fire began and what types of accelerants might have been used. He said responders arrived on scene about three minutes after getting the call and found flames already through the roof.

"It was just devastation," he said.

The 28-year-old mother of two was reported missing Dec. 7, 2009, after she failed to show up for her stockbroker job in Utah.

Authorities in the couple's hometown of West Valley City, about 10 miles outside Salt Lake City, quickly turned their attention to Josh Powell. He's been the only "person of interest" in the case, but had repeatedly denied any involvement in her disappearance.

"I would never even hurt her," a tearful, red-eyed Josh Powell told CBS' Early Show in August. "People who know me know that I could never hurt Susan." (Watch the August interview at left.)

About a month later, police spent 12 days in the remote central Utah desert looking for clues, and Josh Powell and his father, Steven, quickly disappeared from the limelight. The search area around Topaz Mountain, a popular spot for rock and gem hunters, was about 30 miles south of where Josh told police he went camping with his two children in the hours before his wife's disappearance — his steadfast alibi.

Police turned up no clues in their desert search, but a day before ending it, Steven Powell, 61, was arrested at his Washington state home and accused of secretly videotaping his daughter-in-law, other women, and young girls taking baths and sitting on the toilet in neighborhood homes.

The elder Powell is now jailed and facing child porn and voyeurism charges. He claimed in previous television interviews that he and Susan Powell were falling in love and even implied a sexual relationship had occurred.

"Susan was very sexual with me," Steven Powell said in one interview at the time. "We interacted in a lot of sexual ways because Susan enjoys doing that."

Susan's father denied the allegations and said Steven Powell had been initiating unwanted sexual advances, and that his daughter had no interest in her father-in-law.

The children were ordered by a judge to then go live with Susan's parents as the parallel cases were investigated.

The custody matter got so heated that at one point a court commissioner in Washington state ordered Chuck Cox and Josh Powell to keep 500 feet apart.

Comments