Posts Tagged ‘charlie and braden powell’

From the Seattle Times:

In a report released this morning, the state Children’s Administration found that while social workers like Griffin-Hall demonstrated a high concern for Charlie and Braden, their awareness that Powell was a suspect in his wife’s disappearance should have prompted greater vigilance. The 12-page Child Fatality Review, compiled by a panel of lawyers, a judge, a police officer, social service providers, a psychologist and two state senators, said the Children’s Administration should have tried harder to find out more about the potential threat to the children because of the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell.”

According to the Seattle Times, the report made the following recommendations for future dealings with children:

• If there’s an active criminal investigation involving someone connected with a child dependency case, Children’s Administration should make an effort to consult with law enforcement involved before making any changes in parent/child visitation agreements.

• There needs to be ongoing domestic-violence training for Children’s Administration staff.

• The courts need to articulate its reasons for placing children with a caregiver over the objection of a parent.

• Children’s Administration should reassess visitation agreements and other supervision issues soon after a psychosexual evaluation is issued.

"The message from this report is there are a lot of people reviewing the matter, myself included, who really expected to find fault in some fashion but from my perspective it really wasn’t there," Anderson said. "This is a tragic situation, despite the best efforts of the people involved in the case. There are things to be learned from it, but more it’s a ‘here’s how we can improve on things in the future’."

You can read the entire state report in a sidebar to the Seattle Times’ article, or a direct PDF link here.

Many news sources weighed in on this report today:

KSL News in Salt Lake City

Attorney Anne Bremner, speaking this morning on the Dori Monson show, Seattle

From the Associated Press, as reported by KIRO TV, Seattle

The Salt Lake Tribune spoke with Chuck Cox, who had this to say about the report:

“… That last conclusion drew a strong response from Chuck Cox, the missing woman’s father.

"We told them Josh was capable of killing the children," Cox said. "We had warned them of that very possibility. We told them of our concern that if Josh Powell was cornered and was going to lose the children or be arrested, he would be capable of killing the children and himself. And that is exactly what happened."

Cox said he and his wife Judy shared that concern with caseworkers, psychologists, police and attorneys involved in the case after receiving temporary custody of their grandsons in September 2011.

"They heard us, they knew about it and they chose to dismiss it," he said. "And, as a result, our grandchildren are dead."

…. Cox said that while he believes case workers were doing the best they could and had genuine concern for his grandsons, the child welfare system is flawed because of its focus on reunification of children and parents.

"Pointing fingers is not going to bring the children back," he said, "but perhaps the notoriety of this case will help protect other children and makes changes to focus on the best interests of children."



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KOMO News and QFOX 13 News in Seattle report that a new non-profit organization, Charlie’s Dinosaur, will be helping foster children.

Photo source: QFOX13, Seattle

When kids are taken from neglectful or troubled homes by the state, they often don’t have time to take any of their own belongings. A small group of Pierce County Detectives want to give those kids something to call their own.

Pierce County detectives who knew and loved Charlie and Braden Powell found a large dinosaur drawing made by Charlie, Susan’s oldest son, age 7. They decided to start a non-profit named “Charlie’s Dinosaur” in memory of Charlie and Braden.

They plan to collect donations so they can give away backpacks filled with toys, books, and hygiene items each month to foster children.

From KOMO News:

Thanks to … a handful of Pierce County detectives, Charlie’s Dinosaur was born, and donations helped it grow. Toiletries, toys and books – the essentials and good-to-haves – now fill backpacks for foster children in need. 

"We’re hoping to put out maybe a hundred backpacks a month to children who’ve been placed for either abuse or neglect," says Anderson.

And in the process, they’re honoring two children and helping kids be kids.

From QFOX 13:

Pierce County sheriff’s detective Kevin Johnson and Sgt. Theresa Berg found the drawing of Charlie’s dinosaur when they searched Josh Powell’s storage unit after he killed the boys during a visitation and blew up his home near Graham in February.  

"There were so few items that belonged to the boys that survived anything, so few items that this was kind of precious to us,” Berg said. 

Both Johnson and Berg had spent a lot of time with the Powell boys after Child Protective Services took custody of them from their father.

"These kids were not strangers to us,” Berg said. “They were comfortable with us. They would run to us. We liked them and we played with them."

Investigating their deaths was difficult.

"This was probably the first case like this I can ever remember actually crying afterwards,” Johnson said. “It was tough.”

Out of that anguish came an idea for a charity to help other foster kids.

"A lot of the people that are taken into protective custody don’t have any belongings at all, and if they do, we were told they have to carry them around in plastic garbage bags," Johnson said.

"It tells me that we can do something positive for kids and out of this horrible, horrible thing at least every time I look at it, I know that we’ve done something positive," Johnson said.

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On Saturday, July 28, 2012, there will be a big event called “Ride the Brainwave” that sponsors many teams, all running/walking/riding for great causes.

The sponsoring organization is called Children and the Earth and their mission is to provide at-risk children with special opportunities. They invited us to raise a team to help build the Susan, Charlie and Braden Memorial and we were very thankful to be invited to participate in their event.

But we need YOU! Profits raised by the memorial team will go directly to the memorial-building fund. Outdoor sculptures and gardens are very expensive, and we have a lot of work to do before we can dedicate a beautiful memorial to Susan and her boys. Please join us on July 28. Register now to be a part of the Susan, Charlie and Braden Memorial Team. The cost is $20 to walk/run or $25 if you have a motorcycle and want to participate in the motorcycle rally.

Time: Saturday, July 28, 8:30 a.m. for 5K start, 10:00 a.m. for Motorcycle Rally start

Place: The Draper Spectrum (the old VF Factory Outlet) at 12101 S. Factory Outlet Drive in Draper, Utah

There will be lots of fun for the whole family…music, food, live bands, bounce houses, and more.

For more information and to register, please go to Children and the Earth’s website.

Here’s how to register for the Susan, Charlie and Braden Memorial Team:

1. Go to childrenandtheearth.com

2. Click “Register Now”

3. Select the drop-down menu for either “Ride the Brainwave: 5 k” or “Motorcycle Rally” and choose your number of registrants, then click “Continue”

4. Fill in your contact information and where it says “Select One,” choose the Susan, Charlie, Braden Powell Memorial Team. Continue to follow instructions.

If you don’t live in Utah or can’t make it on July 28, you can still donate to the memorial fund! Just visit Children and the Earth and click the “Make a Donation” button on the top right. Follow the instructions and make sure you send them an email at the email address they provide, telling them that you want your donation to go toward the Susan, Charlie and Braden Memorial Fund.

Please spread the word—tell your friends and family! We’d love to have a huge team walking and running for Susan, Charlie and Braden and other victims of domestic violence.

Ride the Brainwave Susan flier

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Shortly after Charlie and Braden’s funeral, close friends and family members of Susan, Charlie and Braden began talking about raising a memorial for Susan and her boys.

The purpose of the memorial is to honor and remember Susan and her boys, and also to give victims of domestic abuse/violence hope—to help them learn there options, hope, help, and a way out.

We formed a committee and put out a Call for Artists and Call for Locations. We didn’t realize when we began this process what an incredibly huge job it would be to research, plan, and fund-raise to get these memorials built (one in Washington and one in Utah).

But we’re moving forward, and are in the process of selecting an artist right now. We’re also working hard to make plans for fundraising. We hope to see completed memorials by fall 2013.

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On Saturday, February 11, funeral services were held for Charlie and Braden Powell, ages 5 and 7. Susan’s beloved little boys were celebrated and remembered by friends, teachers, and family. The funeral was live-streamed via internet and TV in Washington and Utah. (Watch the complete funeral service here, courtesy of KIRO-TV.)

Image from Seattle Times

Coverage from KSL-TV

Huffington Post

ABC News

Funeral notice by funeral home


A copy of the funeral program, provided by Seattle’s King-5

Seattle Times photos from the funeral

 Video memorial for the boys, courtesy of KING-5, Seattle

Eulogies for Charlie and Braden

At the request of ABC News, I wrote about the events of that weekend. You can read it here.

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On February 6, 2012, new details were released by Pierce County police about what happened in Josh Powell’s rental house the day before.

Josh apparently attacked his children. With a hatchet. BEFORE setting the gasoline-soaked house on fire.

There are no words.

What kind of evil fills a person who can do this to his own children?

Other revelations followed. Josh Powell had planned this murder/suicide days in advance. Pierce County CPS/court system also released huge stacks of CPS documents, psychologist reports, and details of Josh’s visitation with his boys. The 911 call by the visit supervisor that Sunday was released, including audio versions by the visit supervisor and also Alina Powell, Josh’s younger sister (who was living at Steve Powell’s house).

Dr. Phil covered the story in a one-hour episode on Friday, February 10.

Dateline-NBC (look down the left side and click on “A Family’s Story, part 1”) and ABC’s 20/20 (episode called “Sins of the Father”) both covered the murders in a full episode the night of Friday, February 10. (Months later, at the end of May, so did the show E! Investigates on the E! Channel. Their show was called “E! Investigates: a Family Tragedy: the Powells.”)

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The events of this day (just like the day Susan was first reported missing, on December 7, 2009) will forever be burned into my mind.

I returned home from church at about 2:20pm (Mountain time) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Right after walking in the door, my phone rang. I saw that it was ABC-4, one of Salt Lake City’s local TV news stations.

I sighed as I thought, “What now?” I figured there must be some sort of news.

I had no idea just how devastating this news would be.

The person on the phone told me they were sorry to be the one to tell me this if I didn’t know, but they had just received reports of an explosion at Josh Powell’s house.

I was confused. “What do you mean? An actual explosion, or a verbal explosion?” I was thinking they were referring to some sort of yelling match.  I also asked if it was at Steve Powell’s house, or Josh’s rental house.

They answered, “The rental house. An actual explosion. And it was during Josh’s visitation time—there are reports that the bodies of two children were found.”

Time seemed to stop. I screamed, “NO!!! NO, no, no!!” My family came running down the stairs and gathered around me. They thought I’d just received news of a car accident—I had a sister and her family who were driving across the country that day, to the West Coast.

The ABC-4 person was saying something, but I interrupted them and gasped out “I’m sorry, I can’t talk right now.” I hung up and dialed Chuck Cox, with trembling fingers.

He answered right away. I was crying so hard I could hardly talk. I said, without preamble, “Is it true?? A news station just called me. Is it true??”

He said, “I don’t know. I’m on my way there right now. I’ll call you back as soon as I know.”

The next thing I had to do was make two of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever had to make in my life. The first one was to Jennifer Graves, and the next one was to Debbie Caldwell.

Jennifer is Josh’s sister, and had plans to adopt Charlie and Braden. She already loved and knew them as her nephews, and thought of them as her future sons. She had been through two years of hell, along with the Coxes and myself and others who knew and loved Susan, and courageously stood up for Susan even when Josh, Steve, and their other siblings in Washington publicly “disowned” and defamed her.

Debbie was Charlie and Braden’s daycare provider before Susan disappeared (she’s also the one who raised the alarm that Susan, Josh, and the boys were missing when the boys didn’t show up to daycare on December 7, 2009). Susan’s boys spent 12 hours a day with her, three days each week, and thought of her as their Nana. She loved them like her own grandchildren. She worried about and grieved for them every day they were in Washington, and called CPS right after Josh moved them there in 2009 to beg CPS to do a child welfare check.

I did not want to be the one to tell either of these amazing women, who have become two of my closest friends. But I would rather they heard it from me than hear the news from a stranger (no offense to any media person reading this).

I won’t infringe on their privacy by reporting their reactions, but I’m sure you can imagine how they felt.

I was praying and crying and pacing nervously while waiting for Chuck to call me back. The phone rang a few minutes later. “It’s true,” he said heavily. “I’ve just been there and talked to the sheriff. Josh blew up the house and they’ve found three bodies inside.”

I was crying so hard I couldn’t talk. Chuck said, “I wish there was something I could say to help.” Even in my grief, I was amazed…these were his grandchildren, and he was trying to think of something he could say or do to comfort me.

He told me he was still in crisis mode and hadn’t had a chance to process. I felt the same.

Throughout the afternoon, friends and church members stopped by. We hugged and cried, not saying much. News trucks descended in force. The media were all very kind. I know this tragedy affected those reporters, too—many of them have covered this case in every detail since Susan disappeared.

That evening, I found out a few minutes before it started that some total strangers had planned a candlelight vigil in the parking lot of an elementary school. I packed up my family and we went there to meet a group of about 30 or so people, none of whom had any connection to Susan but who just wanted to show their love and support. They were so wonderful to do such a kind thing to help us grieve together over Charlie and Braden’s loss.

Some of the huge amounts of news coverage from that terrible day:


KING-5, Seattle

CBS News

Huffington Post

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