Ground has been broken on a memorial at Puyallup’s Woodbine Cemetery to honor Charlie and Braden Powell, the 5- and 7-year-old boys who were killed when their father Josh Powell blew up the home they were in last February. Their grandpa, Chuck Cox, and I watched as the crew, who is working on donated time, pushed dirt away from the newly set concrete sitting wall. In the center will stand an eight foot statue.
“The statue is a child angel, wings outstretched and reaching upward,” says Chuck. “It’s called Richard Paul Evan’s Christmas Box Angel. There are about 100 of those across the country. So every December 6th they have a vigil at 7 o’clock at all of these Christmas Box Angel sites. It’s called Angel of Hope. It’s a place where people can gather who’ve lost children, think about their loved one and a happy reunion some time in the future. A place of healing and contemplation for people.”
This national day of remembrance, December 6th, happens to be the same day that Chuck’s daughter Susan went missing in 2009. The statue will be dedicated that day and the community is welcome to attend.
“The public is paying for this, obviously, with money raised by Ron and Don and Crime Stoppers. It’s kind of giving back to the community so we don’t want it to be about Charlie and Braden. I mean, it’s donated in their memory with funds that were raised. But it’s really for anyone who has lost a child.”
The statue will be surrounded by bricks that will be engraved with the names of children who have passed away, including Charlie and Braden. The boys are buried nearby, just down a grassy hill. Chuck says he visits once a week.
“But I think there’s other people who come out more often, because every time we come there’s more things on their grave site. All the First Responders were hit especially hard with this and their classmates and just, the whole community.”
We walked down to the grave, where the plots surrounding it were bought by Ron & Don Show listeners and Pierce County Crime Stoppers to make sure Josh Powell wasn’t buried next to them.
“See, people left money,” Chuck says, gesturing at some change on the grave. “We put it in the Charlie Braden Memorial account, Charlie’s Dinosaur, which benefits foster children. The snowflakes, somebody else brought, and the dinosaurs, we keep getting dinosaurs showing up here.”
Plastic dinosaurs surround the grave, that features a color photograph of the boys with their mother Susan.
“Of course, the way outside hope is that she’ll be found alive somewhere. If not, then we’ll know when they find her body. But until then, we hope she’s alive.”
Meanwhile, the Cox family is still involved in a legal dispute with Josh Powell’s family. The only time they see each other is in court. I asked Chuck if the Powell’s will be at the dedication ceremony.
“Don’t know. Probably wouldn’t notice if they were. We should have quite a few people here. It’s awkward when we’re around them because they still haven’t told us what they know. They still deny that Josh even killed the boys. The sister and brother, they say, ‘Well, there’s no real proof.’ It’s very hard to deal with somebody who won’t even accept established facts.”
I wondered if the unveiling of the statue would be the end of Chuck’s projects, that have been keeping his mind and body occupied since the boys’ deaths.
“We still have our legal issues going on, we still want to find our daughter, it’s not over. Ann Rule’s book came out on the 27th so there’s lots going on. In a way we wish it was done. But it’s not going to be over. It’s going to be a part of our lives forever.”