The mystery of missing Utah woman Susan Powell took another tragic turn Sunday when Pierce County, WA authorities raced to an explosion and house fire at the home of Mrs. Powell’s estranged husband, Josh Powell. Officials say the blast killed Mr. Powell, long a person of interest in his wife’s mysterious 2009 disappearance, and his two sons, who were at the home for supervised visitation.
The explosion occurred after a social worker dropped Powell’s sons at the residence. Powell reportedly shut the social worker out of the home. The social worker smelled gas, then the home blew up.
Just last week Powell lost a custody bid for his sons, 7-year-old Charlie and Braden, age 5, after a judge ordered that they remain with their grandparents.
Even though Utah authorities have considered Powell a suspect in Susan Powell’s disappearance in December, 2009, Powell originally retained custody of his sons and moved to Washington to live with his father, Steve Powell. The elder Mr. Powell was arrested in September of last year and charged with possession of child porn and voyeurism. Washington officials granted a subsequent bid for the children’s custody by their maternal grandparents, as Washington assistant Attorney General John Long had indicated that Josh Powell was also being investigated in connection with his father’s case.
Susan Powell’s disappearance has drawn national attention since the investigation began 2 years ago. Josh Powell has been at the center of scrutiny the entire time and repeatedly questioned by police about alleged inconsistencies in his story. In September 2011, Powell’s estranged sister Jennifer Graves said she believed her brother was “responsible for his wife’s disappearance” and that Charlie and Braden Powell “shouldn’t be with Josh” or the senior Mr. Powell.