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Josh Powell never lived in Graham house

Pierce County detectives say the rental home that Josh Powell used to murder his two boys was nothing more than an empty shell that he used to fool state social workers. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Josh Powell did not live in the rental house at the end of the cul-de-sac where he murdered his boys and then killed himself.

Neighbors never saw him. They never saw the kids. Everyone in the neighborhood thought the house was abandoned. Powell was still living at his father's home, though he rented the home he eventually blew up three months ago.

Ed Troyer with the Pierce County Sheriff's Office says the house appeared to be set up only as a place where Powell could see his kids on supervised visits.

"There was no furniture," Troyer said. "There were some kids toys, a little bit of clothing, some pictures of Susan [Powell] on the wall, and that was about it. It was very, very sparse, not like it was set up for anybody to actually live in."

Troyer said it's not likely the court would have allowed Powell to have the kids at his father Steven's house considering the child pornography and other things police found there, but he says visits at Steven Powell's house never came up.

"He wasn't going to be able to bring them to Steve's house," Troyer said. "That house was too high-profile. We'd served so many search warrants there. Neighbors watched that place and knew everybody who came and went out of there. We believe he set this place up for a spot just to have the kids over where nobody would know what was going on."

But Troyer says it's also reasonable to think Powell rented this house with the thought they would all move in there once he won custody of his boys in court.

"Taking a look at this in hindsight," Troyer said, "you want to know why he rented that place three months ago. Was it just a place to take the kids where nobody else knew what was going on, or did he have this ultimate end in mind if things didn't go his way? The only person who is going to know that is Josh, and he's no longer with us. So that answer may have died with him."

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