Missing Mom's Husband Blows Up Sons, Self

Josh Powell grabbed boys, torched gas-filled home: cops
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2012 12:30 AM CST
Updated Feb 6, 2012 12:40 AM CST
Missing Mom's Husband Blows Up Sons, Self
Officials remove the third of three bodies from the smoldering remains of Josh Powell's house near Fredrickson, Wash., last night.   (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

A Washington state man suspected in his wife's disappearance pulled his two young sons away from a social service worker at his doorstep, locked her out, and exploded his gas-filled home, according to authorities. Three charred bodies found yesterday at the blackened shell are believed to be those of Josh Powell and his sons, 7-year-old Charlie, and Braden, 5. A staffer from Child Protective Services had just turned over the boys for a supervised visit when Powell grabbed the boys. She smelled gas, quickly stepped back to phone her boss, and the house exploded, reports ABC News. "The children were right in front of her as she was walking to the door," said a social services spokeswoman. "They went into the house and Josh shut the door and locked it."

The house "immediately went up in flames, very quickly, very big, so we believe that Josh Powell intentionally set this fire," said a police spokesman. Just minutes before the blast, Powell sent an email to his attorney saying: "I'm sorry. Goodbye." Powell was the only suspect after his wife, Susan Powell, vanished from their Utah home in 2009. He claimed he took his toddler sons to go camping in the freezing cold, and she was gone when the three returned. The boys were being cared for by Susan Powell's parents. Powell was just denied custody again last week, and was ordered to undergo a psychosexual evaluation and polygraph if he wanted to get them back. "What happened here was an act of evil. Do not call it a tragedy because that sanitizes it," Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor told the Seattle Times. "This was a terrible act of murder involving two young children." (Click to read about a possible motive.)

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