Report: FBI investigated Josh Powell for child pornography

Josh Powell leaves a courtroom in Tacoma, Wash., September 2011.

Ted S. Warren, AP

SALT LAKE CITY -- FBI documents say investigators found child pornography on Josh Powell's computer at least 17 months before he killed his children and himself.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the documents show the FBI was investigating the December 2009 disappearance of his wife, Susan Powell, as well as possession of child pornography.

Anne Bremner, an attorney for Susan Powell's parents, said the family was never told the FBI was investigating Josh Powell for child pornography.

She said if the state of Washington's Department of Social and Health Services had known about the suspected child pornography, it "never would have let him have those kids." According to the Tribune, he was allowed visitation with his sons.

Josh Powell ignited a fire that killed himself, 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden at his rented home in Graham, Washington, on Feb. 5, 2012.

The paper reports the FBI opened the child pornography case against Josh Powell on Sept. 10, 2010, after cartoon images of incest between mothers and children were found on his computer in late 2009 or early 2010. However, the FBI was unable to find any other compromising images on Powell's computer as much of the data was encrypted.

"Obviously, if there was something more serious than [the cartoon images], it would have changed the whole dynamic of the [case]," Josh M. Long, the Assistant Washington Attorney General during the custody hearings for Powell's children, told the Tribune.