Police in Pierce County, Wash., have released the chilling 9-1-1 tapes from Sunday’s double-murder-suicide by Josh Powell -- husband of Susan Powell, who disappeared in Utah more than two years ago.
Powell murdered his two sons and then killed himself in what authorities describe as a planned attack. It all happened moments after a social worker arrived at Powell’s rental house in Graham, Wash., for what was a scheduled four-hour, supervised visit between Powell and his boys.
Charles, 7, and Braden, 5, ran into the house just ahead of the social worker, who was then locked out by Powell. She immediately called her supervisor, then 9-1-1. While explaining the kids may be in danger, the house burst into flames.
SOCIAL WORKER: He blew up the house and the kids.
911 OPERATOR: The kids and the father were in the house?
SOCIAL WORKER: Yes, yes, he slammed the door in my face. So I kept knocking. I thought I made a mistake, I kept knocking and then I called 911.
911 OPERATOR: You saw him go back into the house right before the flames?
SOCIAL WORKER: He didn’t ever leave the house. He just opened the door and the kids were one step ahead of me, they’re 5 and 7, they were one step ahead of me and they slammed the door in my face.
911 OPERATOR: And you think he might have done this intentionally?
SOCIAL WORKER: Yes
There were other 9-1-1 calls from frantic neighbors who watched the blaze and from people who had received emails from Josh Powell just minutes before the fire. Powell’s employer told the operator the email simply said, ‘I’m sorry, Good-bye’. Powell’s sister described Josh in her 9-1-1 call as ‘the one that’s been abused by everyone.’
Powell was the lone person of interest in the disappearance of Susan Powell in December 2009.
He eventually moved back to his hometown in Washington state, but lost custody of his boys last September when his father was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. The younger Powell was attempting to regain custody of his children when at a hearing February 1 a judge ordered him to take a psycho-sexual evaluation and polygraph test.
Police say Powell chopped his sons’ necks with a hatchet, but those blows did not kill them. He then poured 10 gallons of gasoline in his house and set it on fire. All three died from smoke inhalation.
Investigators also revealed Powell made a $7,000 cash withdrawal from his bank account the day before the horrific attack. Tuesday night police searched a storage locker rented by Powell.
Items were removed, but police would not be specific.
Meantime, Washington state lawmakers are raising questions about the handling of the case.
They want to know why DSHS allowed the visitations to take place at Powell’s house. Initially, the visitations were done at a neutral location.
“Here you have a guy who’s a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife,” says state Rep. Roger Goodman, “you have the guy’s father who’s in jail for some other disgusting stuff related to children. The supervised visits are okay, but a visitation at the home is just not appropriate.”
In another development, the Lake County, Utah, prosecutor told reporters Wednesday the missing persons case surrounding Susan Powell’s disappearance had actually become a murder investigation six months ago.
The funeral for the Powell boys is scheduled for this Saturday.