GRAHAM, Wash.- Before setting his house ablaze and killing himself and his two young sons, Josh Powell left a voicemail for family members saying he couldn’t live without the boys and didn’t want to go on anymore.
ABC News obtained what it says was a voicemail Powell left for his family members. In the recording played Tuesday on "Good Morning America" Powell also said he was calling to say goodbye and apologize.
"I’m sorry to everyone I’ve hurt," he is heard saying. "Goodbye."
Powell, the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, died along with his children Sunday in Washington. An autopsy showed the children also suffered hatchet wounds to their necks. He was a person of interest in his wife’s 2009 disappearance.
As authorities work to determine exactly why Powell committed the murders at the Washington residence, investigators said they’re no closer to answering the question they’ve had for two years.
"We still haven’t identified or found where Susan Powell is," said West Valley, Utah, Police Chief Buzz Nielsen, who is in charge of the investigation into the young mother’s disappearance.
The father of the 5- and 7-year-old boys painted himself as a tortured man, ridiculed without reason in the disappearance of his wife, steadfastly insisting he was innocent until the end.
Yet the investigation and autopsy reports released late Monday show the acts of a violent man who meticulously planned the double murder-suicide of himself and his two young sons, culminating Sunday in Powell setting his house ablaze and taking a hatchet to his children’s necks.
For now, even with the longtime "person of interest" in the probe dead, police say the case remains open, though some mysteries may never be solved.
Powell’s horrific murder-suicide seemed to come out of nowhere. Just days before, in a motion seeking custody of his children filed with a Washington state court, Powell said he missed his wife, and would remain strong for the boys.
"A lesser person would fall under the intense scrutiny I am facing, but apparently my inherent resilience as a person makes it increasingly difficult for them to pursue their agendas," Powell wrote. "I am standing tall for my sons, but it deeply hurts to face such ridicule and abuse.
"I know my own heart is free of any guilt regardless of what people claim," he added.
Things changed dramatically when the judge ruled against him, ordering the children to remain with Susan Powell’s parents for now.
On Sunday, Powell’s boys came for a routine supervised visit. They ran ahead, the social worker falling behind. Powell then locked the door, used a hatchet on his kids, and lit the house on fire.
Ultimately, Powell and both boys died of smoke inhalation, Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office investigator Melissa Baker said Monday evening.
But they also suffered "chop injuries" that contributed to their deaths - 7-year-old Charles was struck on his neck and 5-year-old Braden had injuries to both his head and neck, Baker said.
Pierce County Sheriff’s Detective Ed Troyer said investigators found a hatchet that they believe was used on the boys.
"We recovered a hatchet - a small ax," he said. "It was right there with" the bodies.
Authorities also said Powell had made thorough plans well ahead of the murders.
"This was definitely a deliberate, planned-out event," Troyer said.Next Page >
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