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The Coxes were "absolutely devastated" by the loss of their grandchildren, according to their lawyer.
"It’s the most horrifying thing you can imagine happening," said Steve Downing, who represented Susan Powell’s parents in the custody fight. "They were always very fearful of him doing something like this, and he did it."
Later Sunday, Downing said the children had started talking to their grandparents about things they remembered from the night their mother vanished.
"They were beginning to verbalize more," said Downing. "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."
Susan Powell was reported missing Dec. 7, 2009. Josh Powell — who has denied any involvement in her disappearance — told police he last saw his wife around midnight, when he put their sons in the family’s minivan and took them on a late-night camping trip during freezing temperatures in Utah’s west desert.
Kirk Graves, Josh Powell’s brother-in-law and the husband of Jennifer Graves — both of whom had been estranged from Josh and believe he killed Susan Powell — said he views the fire as proof that Josh Powell killed his wife.
"In my personal opinion, this is Josh’s admission that he did it," Graves said. "I know others won’t interpret it that way, but I know that is what this was."
Graves said he and his wife had been pleased the boys would be able to stay with Coxes.
"Josh didn’t feel the same way, I guess," Graves said.
Graves said they got confirmation of the fire from Chuck Cox, who went to Josh Powell’s home and observed it burning.
"We’re still in shock," Graves said. "We’re almost shaky."
They visited their nephews over Thanksgiving in Washington, and had spoken to them on the phone since.
Graves said of Josh Powell’s mother, Terrica Powell, "She’s not doing well."
Graves said he plans to go Washington and be there for the Coxes and help with funeral arrangements.
Kiirsi Hellewell, Susan Powell’s best friend in West Valley City, said she screamed out in grief after confirming the boys were killed. She now wonders if there will ever be answers to the fate of her missing friend.
"I’m so furious with Josh for so many reasons," Hellewell said. "If he’s going to take such a cowardly and selfish way out of this, I wish he would have left a note to explain what happened. Now we still don’t know, and now he’s gone and we don’t have any way of getting answers ... Not only that, he murdered two little innocent boys. If he wanted to kill himself, he should have done that, but how dare he do something so horrible, so evil?"
Hellewell called Josh Powell "the kind of person that only cares about himself. "
"He never really loved his boys. To him, they were possessions," she said. "They were something for him to own and possess and to control. Once that control was taken away [at the custody hearing last week] ... he just felt like if I can’t have them, nobody is going to."
Hellewell said she spoke to Chuck Cox, Susan’s father, moments after she heard of the fire to ask if the news was true. Cox told her he wasn’t sure and was on his way to the home. He called Hellewell back moments later and said a Washington sheriff’s deputy had just confirmed it.
"He was in a state of shock," Hellewell said. Cox told her his one consolation is that the boys are with their mother again, she said.
Like the Coxes, Hellewell has long believed that Josh Powell had something to do with Susan’s disappearance.
Hellewell said she was relieved last week when a Washington judge decided to leave the two boys with the Coxes at least through July. Still, she said there was fear Powell might be furious.Next Page >
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