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February 9, 2012 at 8:46 AM

UPDATE: Pam Roach seeks info sent by Utah about Powell children

State Sen. Pam Roach is asking the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to provide information sent by Utah police related to the custody of Braden and Charlie Powell.

On Feb. 1, West Valley City, Utah, police issued a news release indicating the agency had sent information to Washington state regarding the placement of Charles and Braden Powell. Four days later, the two boys were killed in a fire set by their father, Josh Powell, who was also killed in the blaze.

The police news release was sent on the same day as a Pierce County custody hearing in which a judge allowed the boys to continue living with their grandparents and ordered Josh Powell to undergo a psychosexual examination. Powell had lost custody of his sons last fall after police arrested his father on voyeurism and pornography charges.

At the time, Powell was considered by West Valley City police to be a person of interest in the December 2009 disappearance of his wife and the boys’ mother, Susan Powell. Following Sunday’s double-murder suicide, it was revealed that West Valley City police considered the case a homicide investigation as far back as six months.

“It appears DSHS was forewarned about information regarding Joshua Powell and the treatment of his boys,” Roach, R-Auburn, said in her news release.

According to the West Valley City police news release, the department noted it had “discovered information specifically related” to the boys’ welfare. “This information was provided to authorities in the State of Washington,” according to the news release, which doesn’t describe the information.

Although he did not have custody of his sons, Powell was allowed visitation. A caseworker was delivering the children for a visitation when Powell locked the boys in his home, attacked them with a hatchet and then ignited the gasoline-fueled fire that killed all three.

DSHS officials said today that West Valley City police sent images of “questionable taste” to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department before the Feb. 1 court hearing. Only a handful of people, including a psychologist who testified at the hearing, were allowed by court order to review the material or discuss it, said DSHS spokeswoman Sherry Hill.

“We were not among that handful,” Hill said.

The issue of what West Valley City police provided was addressed during the hearing, Hill said.

At the hearing, a Pierce County judge said she wouldn’t consider returning the boys to Josh Powell until he underwent a psychosexual evaluation, the News Tribune of Tacoma reported at the time.

A mental-health professional who examined Powell as part of the juvenile dependency matter involving his two young sons recommended the evaluation after learning Utah police investigating the disappearance of his wife found images of a questionable nature on a computer connected to Josh Powell, the newspaper reported. What the images depict was not discussed in court, but it was clear they were of a sexual nature.

DSHS spokesman Thomas Shapley said the material was delivered to the psychologist and through him to the court.

“There’s nothing been hidden here,” Shapley said.

Roach has sent a public records request to DSHS seeking the materials sent by West Valley City police before the Sunday visit.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Department of Social and Health Servoces, homicide, Josh Powell


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