The civil trial against the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, in connection with the death of Susan Cox Powell’s two young sons, has been set.
KOMO News reports that the trial is scheduled to begin on February 10, 2020, at the Pierce County Court in Washington. Susan’s parents filed the lawsuit against DSH after their grandchildren, Charlie and Braden Powell, were killed by their father, Josh Powell, while the boys were under the care of a DHS social worker.
During a supervised to Powell’s home in 2012, he locked himself and his sons inside his home, leaving the caseworker outside. Powell killed his children before setting himself and his home on fire. All three were later found deceased inside the home.
Anne Bremner, attorney for the Cox family, said there were “red flags” that indicated Powell was dangerous around his children, especially after he took them on a midnight camping trip in freezing cold weather around the same time Susan disappeared. Susan has still not been found.
“The most important thing we’d like to see is a change, really, in the actions and policy of DSHS in that – don’t look at the reunification of the family at any cost. Rather, look at the best interests of the child,” Bremmer said, according to the outlet.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Susan Powell, of West Valley, Utah, disappeared without a trace in 2009. Family and friends sensed foul play from the beginning and said she would never leave her children behind.
On December 6, 2009, Susan, 28, was seen attending church at the Salt Lake Hunter Central Stake with Charlie and Braden, ages four and two at the time. The next day, Susan failed to show up for work and her sons weren’t taken to their daycare center, according to TIME.
Josh Powell later told police that he took his boys camping at around midnight on December 7, despite the freezing weather. He said Susan stayed at home and when he returned, he couldn’t find her.
Authorities noted that Susan left behind her cellphone, keys, and wallet. Detectives suspected that Josh had something to do with his wife’s disappearance, but despite the bizarre account of him taking his children camping in the middle of the night in icy conditions, they didn’t have enough cause to arrest him.
As detectives began investigating the case, they discovered Susan also left behind trails of evidence that marked frustrations in her marriage. In 2008, she made a video in her West Valley home, in which she expressed her fear of Josh and detailed the turmoil in their marriage.
“This is me, July 29, 2008. Covering all my bases, making sure that if anything happens to me or my family or all of us that our assets are documented.”
A month prior, Susan wrote a secret note, warning people that if she disappeared, it was likely not an accident.
“I want it documented that there is extreme turmoil in our marriage. If die, it may not be an accident, even if it looks like one.”
Authorities not only had their eye on Josh but also his father, Steve Powell, who reportedly had an obsession with his son’s wife. Police found 4,500 images of Susan on the elder Powell’s computer, all taken without her consent.
According to Steve Powell’s former wife, Terri Powell, she divorced him in 1992 after finding pornography on his computer that centered around having sexual encounters with multiple wives. He was later convicted on child pornography and voyeurism charges.
Regardless, there still wasn’t enough evidence to tie father or son to Susan’s disappearance.
Within the following years, Susan’s parents, Chuck and Susan Cox, fought desperately to gain custody of their two grandchildren, especially after Josh moved in with his perverted father in Puyallup, Washington, taking the two boys with him. When Steven Powell was arrested for child pornography, the Cox family filed for custody of the two boys.
A Washington court judge granted them temporary custody, with the conditions Josh would regain custody of the boys if he moved out of his father’s house and into his own home, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Josh was also required to undergo a mental evaluation. In 2011, a psychiatrist deemed him capable of taking care of his sons. However, according to the News Tribune, the psychiatrist found Josh defensive and over-abrasive with the boys, as well as possessing underlying narcissistic traits.
In turn, the court ordered that the children remain in the custody of the Cox couple while allowing Josh visitation three days a week with his sons, supervised by a social worker.
On February 5, 2012, Josh had a scheduled visitation day with Charlie and Braden. As the social worker pulled her car up to Josh’s rental home, the children jumped out and ran to their father’s front door. Josh quickly opened the door, pulled the kids in, then shut and locked it.
The social worker, who couldn’t reach the kids in the time, started knocking on the door, asking Josh to release the kids. When she smelled gas coming from the home, she dialed 911.
The Cox family alleged the state of Washington didn’t take enough measures to protect the boys. The case was moved to federal court where it was dismissed in 2015, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived it.
Check back for further details.
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[Feature Photo: Powell Family/West Valley PD]