Police: Powell planned deadly fire killing sons for some time

GRAHAM, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say Josh Powell planned the deadly house fire that killed him and his young sons for some time, dropping toys at charities and sending final emails to multiple acquaintances.

Powell, the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, died along with his children Sunday.

Authorities say they found 10 gallons of gasoline inside the home. A five-gallon can was spread throughout the house and used as an accelerant in the huge blaze. Another can was found by the bodies.

They say Josh Powell did send longer emails to some people, including his cousin and pastor, with instructions such as where to find his money and how to shut off his utilities.

Powell’s lawyer in his custody case said he got an email from Powell just minutes before the fire. According to his lawyer, the short message had only three words, “I’m sorry, goodbye.”

But none of the emails said anything about what happened to his wife.


Powell was under investigation for his wife’s disappearance in Utah in 2009. He didn’t have full custody of his children, two boys ages 5 and 7. On Sunday, a social worker brought them to his home for a visit. After they arrived, police say Powell pulled only his children in and locked the social worker out. Within minutes, the house was up in flames, according to Ed Troyer from the Pierce County sheriff’s department.

“It was just a very well lit fire with lots of accelerants. The house caught on fire and immediately engulfed the whole house quickly. So everything that happened was intentional. This is a double murder-suicide,” Troyer said.