Could FBI Info Have Stopped Powell From Killing Kids?

FBI found child porn on computer at least 17 months before murder-suicide

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 9, 2014 3:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – On Saturday, the Salt Lake Tribune revealed that before he killed his two young sons and himself, the FBI had caught Josh Powell—husband of Susan Powell, missing since 2009—with child pornography on his computer. Now the lawyer for Susan Powell's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, responds to the news with what sounds almost like resignation: "It’s just one thing after another in terms of bad breaks and bad news and bad action by the authorities. It keeps getting worse," she tells NBC News. "There are so many reasons Josh shouldn’t have had those kids." The FBI uncovered the child pornography at least 17 months before Josh Powell's murder-suicide, according to documents obtained by the Tribune; the documents don't detail what images were found.

As such, the FBI had two open investigations into Powell—one related to his wife's disappearance, the other related to the suspected possession of child porn—yet Powell still had visitation rights with Braden, 5, and Charlie, 7, whom he bludgeoned with an ax before blowing up his home on Feb. 5, 2012. The Coxes' lawyer says the couple was never informed about the child porn investigation, nor was sufficient information about that investigation shared with Washington state's social services department; otherwise the agency "never would have let him have those kids." During the custody case, the state revealed Powell was being investigated over cartoon images of mother-child incest allegedly found on his computer between 2009 and 2010, but the then-assistant Washington attorney general says the FBI never told him "if there was something more serious" than cartoon images found. Those cartoon images caused a judge to order a psychological evaluation of Powell, at which point he killed himself and the boys.

In this Aug. 23, 2011 file photo, Josh Powell, husband of missing Utah woman Susan Cox Powell, walks to a court hearing in Tacoma, Wash.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
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