Josh's cousin: 'We can't help but wonder if this could have been prevented'
The e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org was two sentences long.
"I'm sorry. Goodbye," Josh Powell had written to his cousin, Nathan Leach, along with other family members.
Leach, a cousin of Powell's in Texas, panicked when he saw the message Sunday afternoon.
Leach knew his cousin had been under mounting stress as he waged a bitter custody dispute with his in-laws, Chuck and Judy Cox. From afar, Leach watched as his cousin was put under a microscope as a person of interest in the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell, last seen in West Valley City in 2009.
When Leach saw Powell's cryptic e-mail, he recounted frantically calling his sister as well as Josh's brother and sister Michael and Alina Powell. He then called 911 from Texas to send emergency services to Josh's home in Puyallup.
"I thought he was going to harm himself," Leach said in a Sunday evening interview. But what happened next was unimaginable, he said.
By the time emergency responders arrived at the home, it was in flames. Josh and his two sons were dead.
Leach said Josh Powell's family is now left trying to comprehend what went horribly wrong.
Leach spoke to Michael Powell on Sunday night, who said he had no indication his brother planned to commit suicide.
"According to Michael there was no talk of any of this," Leach said. "That was a very horrible choice he made. I can't imagine the pressure that took him there, none of us can."
Leach said the Powell family is mourning not only the violent death of family members, but is also upset over the circumstances that led up to Sunday's inferno.
Josh Powell had been cyberbullied since his wife's disappearance, on Facebook pages dedicated to finding Susan that named him as a suspect and slandered his behavior, Leach said. The possibility of Josh Powell being required to undergo an invasive psychosexual evaluation as part of his custody dispute, also troubles the family, Leach said.
"I can tell you that Josh was terrorized. I'm sure there are people out there who would consider this appropriate given the mass assumption of his guilt. We all want to see criminals pay for what they have done, but when evidence lacks for due process to make this happen, is this the appropriate method of alternate prosecution? This reminds me of North Korea's process walk the accused out into a field and put a bullet in them. The difference here is that everybody spends their time enjoying the prelude as some form of sick entertainment while posting Bible scriptures to justify to themselves the reason for which they are finding so much enjoyment," Leach said.
"We are all outraged at what has happened, both for Josh's really abhorrent final act and for the actions of the other people involved. We can't help but wonder if this could have been prevented otherwise."
Leach said funeral arrangements for Josh Powell are up in the air, but said he hopes the Powell and Cox families can reach some sort of truce so all can mourn the deaths of family members together.
Josh Powell's emails
To read the emails Powell sent to his cousin, Nathan Leach, go to http://scr.bi/xlBl4J