Thursday AM update:
The man who killed his two sons in an explosive house fire in Washington state will not be buried in the same cemetery as the children, his family said Thursday.
Kirk Graves, the brother-in-law of Josh Powell, told The Associated Press that his mother has decided to give up a plot tentatively reserved at Woodbine Cemetery overlooking the boys’ final resting place.
“We felt very strongly that it wasn’t appropriate to put him anywhere near the boys, and we did our best over the last 48 hours to convince her to do something different,” he said. “It wasn’t that hard to convince her, she just got started off on the wrong path.”
In an effort to keep Josh Powell away from his children for all of eternity, Crime Stoppers Tacoma-Pierce County has purchased two burial plots near the boys.
“The bottom line is, Josh Powell will not be near those two boys,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ed Troyer said in an exclusive interview with the Ron and Don Show on 97.3 KIRO FM.
Puyallup’s city manager said on Wednesday Powell’s surviving family members visited the public Woodbine Cemetery and selected a plot near the boys.
They haven’t paid for it yet, and any sale is being put on hold because the parents of Powell’s missing wife promised legal action. But that might not be necessary.
Troyer and Sheriff Paul Pastor used their own money and funds from Crime Stoppers Tacoma-Pierce County to buy plots two and four. The boys are buried together in number three.
If you want to help pay back Crime Stoppers Tacoma-Pierce County and be part of the plots purchase, you’re encouraged to donate to Crime Stoppers. You can send a check directly to Crime Stoppers of Tacoma-Pierce County at 6824 19th St. W. #139 in University Place, WA 98466.
“This would keep that which is unacceptable from taking place,” said Pastor. He added that he’ll personally be sending out thank-you notes to anyone who donates, letting them know about the important role they’ve played in keeping Powell away from Charlie and Braden.
Troyer said the cost of the plots and plaques they plan to erect is about $4,000 to $5,000.
“We weren’t too worried about the price. We know people will step up and donate toward it,” Troyer said.
He added that if the boys’ missing mother, Susan Powell, is found dead, they will gladly give up a plot so she will be forever near her sons.
Attorney Anne Bremner, who represents Susan Powell’s parents, Charles and Judy Cox, has thanked everyone donating to Crime Stoppers.
“It’s so important to stand up for what’s right here and not let Josh Powell anywhere near those boys that he murdered, that he coaxed in there, and that he said ‘I have a surprise for you.’ Well here’s a surprise for his family, you can’t do this anymore. You can’t make every day worse than the last for this family and those boys.”
Powell was a suspect in Susan Powell’s 2009 disappearance from their home in West Valley City, Utah. He attacked his sons with a hatchet and exploded his house in a gas-fueled blaze, killing himself and the two boys on Feb. 5.
The boys were laid to rest in a single casket at Woodbine on Saturday, with more than 1,000 mourners in attendance, and the Coxes hope to bury Susan Powell there too if her remains are ever found.
Steve Downing, another attorney for the Coxes, said his office received a series of anonymous calls Tuesday afternoon reporting that Josh Powell’s relatives had visited the cemetery. Concerned, he emailed the city of Puyallup on Tuesday night and asked to be notified of any plans to bury Josh Powell there.
“Same cemetery, different destinations,” was what he initially told his clients about the matter. But after speaking with the Coxes further, he said, they feared “they couldn’t go see their daughter or their grandsons with any peace at all” if Powell’s remains were nearby.
Josh Powell had always claimed that he didn’t know what happened to his wife. He took the boys _ then 2 and 4 _ on a midnight camping trip in freezing weather in the Utah desert, he said, and when he returned home the next day authorities were at the house looking for her.
Weeks later, he moved the boys to his father Steve’s home in Puyallup. After Steve’s arrest on voyeurism and child pornography charges last fall, the boys were removed from the house and turned over to the Coxes.
On Feb. 5, a social worker brought them to Josh Powell’s rental home for what was supposed to be a court-sanctioned supervised visit. Powell let the boys inside, locked the social worker out, and killed them. A judge had recently ordered that Powell undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation if he hoped to regain custody, and in a last-minute message to his sister he said he couldn’t live without his boys.
Steve Powell remains in custody, and authorities are interested in knowing whether he has information about Susan Powell’s fate. On Tuesday, he filed a written notice in Pierce County Superior Court asserting his constitutional right to remain silent and not discuss any matters with Utah, Washington or federal law enforcement.
By Stephanie Klein, MyNorthwest.com Editor
The Associated Press contributed to this story.