Father Burns Self and Two Children Alive after Wife’s Disappearance


The fire at Josh Powell’s home added more to the very public scandal that began when Susan Powell suspiciously disappeared in 2009. The case has since blown up into accusations of family members having illicit sexual relationships, and now the horrible loss of two young boys. This is one of the worst cases of sexual and domestic violence. It shows how sexual abuse of women often leads to physical abuse and sometimes even death.

The children, 5-year-old Braden and 7-year-old Charles, were ordered by a judge to go live with Susan’s parents as the case was investigated. On Sunday, the lawyer for Susan Powell’s parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, said the children had started talking to their grandparents about things they remembered from the night their mother disappeared, whose clients had custody of the children. “The oldest boy talked about that they went camping and that Mommy was in the trunk. Mom and Dad got out of the car and Mom disappeared.”

Josh Powell raced home Sunday for what was supposed to be a supervised visit, leaving the social worker behind. She had pulled up in the car, and the kids ran out ahead of her. By the time she got there, Powell had locked her out and his sons in.  The social worker had called her supervisors to report that she could smell gas. Seconds later, the home burst into flames.

“I’m sorry, goodbye,” Powell wrote in a suicide email to his lawyer just minutes before he set fire to his home, killing himself and his two young sons after he was denied custody of them once again and ordered to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation.

Susan Powell, a young mother of two, was reported missing Dec. 7, 2009, after she failed to show up for her job. Authorities in the couple’s hometown of West Valley City, Utah, soon suspected Josh Powell as the leading suspect in the case. Kirk Graves, 39, of West Jordan, Utah, whose wife is Josh Powell’s sister, said of Josh, “He’s a narcissist and he has no love for anyone but himself.” In a statement Sunday night from West Valley City police, they said the investigation will continue as they work to find Susan Powell’s body.

About a month after Susan turned up missing, police spent 12 days in the remote central Utah desert looking for clues, which was about 30 miles south of where Josh told police he went camping with his two children in the hours before his wife’s disappearance. Police turned up nothing in their search, but a day before ending it Josh’s father, Steven Powell, 61, was arrested and accused of secretly videotaping his daughter-in-law, other women, and young girls in neighboring homes. He is now jailed and facing child porn and voyeurism charges.

Susan’s father said Steven Powell had been initiating unwanted sexual advances, and that his daughter had no sexual interest in her father-in-law, contrary to what her father-in-law claimed. Josh Powell had lost custody of the children and the judge had ordered the children to remain with Susan Powell’s parents, until he had a psycho-sexual evaluation. The judge had ordered it because of the findings of explicit material on computers inside Steven Powell’s home, which led to his arrest.

Update: The boys also suffered “chop injuries” from a small hatchet, which was recovered at the scene, that contributed to their deaths. The 7-year-old Charles was struck on his neck and the 5-year-old Braden had injuries to both his head and neck, Baker said.

Josh Powell claimed that the night his wife vanished in December 2009, he took the boys from their West Valley City home, about 10 miles outside Salt Lake City, on a midnight camping trip in freezing temperatures. The summer after the boys’ mother disappeared, Braden drew a picture at day care of a van with three people in it, and said that it was a picture of his family going camping: “Mommy’s in the trunk,” the boy said.

Don’t Be Silent: Stop Domestic Violence

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Author Kimberly Hartfield’s new book

A Little Redneck Theology

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About mamaheartfilled

I am a mother of eight wonderful children and five grandkids, of whom I am very proud. I am also a bi-vocational ordained evangelical minister, and a Christian Counselor. I received my B.S. degree in 2004, studying primarily in the areas of Psychology, with minors in Religion and English. I received my Masters Degree in 2009 in Psychological Counseling with an emphasis in Christian Counseling. I have endeavored to paraphrase the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, for the last ten years or so and am working on a final edit, now. It is my hope that it will be of some use in the great commission of Christ. My ministry is primarily geared toward victims of sexual and domestic violence, including victims of childhood sexual abuse, whether currently or in the past. Since I have personally experienced the healing hand of God in overcoming many of the life issues that Christians may face, I feel qualified and compelled to discuss them in a truthful and open manner, as God’s word tells us that “We shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free.” God has brought me through such diverse tribulations as sexual, physical, and mental abuse, being a victim of a drunk driving accident, spousal pornography addiction, adultery, divorce, remarriage, a very brief, though unjust, incarceration, and having experienced multiple miscarriages and various other trials. I have been asked to leave two Southern Baptist Churches, due to my being a female, ordained as a minister, and fired from a SBC sponsored Christian School (mostly white) for speaking out against racial prejudice in the Family of God. Through God’s merciful forgiveness of my own sins and inadequacies and God’s grace given to me to forgive those who have been a stumbling block to me, I have overcome many of these adversities. God’s word tells us that “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to the purposes of God." Since I have this hope, I believe that God has blessed me with the ability to confront and relate these issues to the Christian community around the world. I hope to be able to use my personal experiences as a ministry of God’s grace and in the comforting of the people of God with the truth of God's mercy. I claim II Corinthians 1: 3 & 4 as my calling, which states: “Blessed be God, the Origin of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Origin of mercies, and the God of comfort; who comforts us in all our troubles, that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble, by the comfort we ourselves have been given by God.” As I have received the gift of God’s healing, I hope to be able to bring the peace beyond understanding to others with the message of God’s mercy and grace. My love for the Sovereign Lord of my life, Jesus Christ, along with my passion for writing has drawn me to explore these commonly experienced crisis issues from the perspective of my own experience in the hope that I may bring an empathetic and compassionate insight to God’s people. I am now a published author and have several books in publication, including my autobiography, "A Little Redneck Theology." The views expressed in my writings are strictly my own insights, acquired from personal experience and diligent study of the related topics and God’s word concerning them. Though I am an ordained minister, my views should not be considered authoritative. I believe that the Christian community’s ultimate authority is the guidance of the human heart by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
This entry was posted in Adult Victims of CSA, Childhood Sexual Abuse, children, counseling, Domestic Violence, End Times, Health and Safety, Marriage and Family, Ministers, Parenting, Sexual Assault, Women in Ministry and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Father Burns Self and Two Children Alive after Wife’s Disappearance

  1. Pingback: Steven Powell gets 2 and a half years for recording girls | Go Fish Ministries, Inc

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