Dad suspected of killing wife murders two sons in fireball
A FATHER at the centre of a bizarre case of sex, lies and a missing woman appears to have killed himself and his two sons.
Authorities in Washington, USA, say Josh Powell set fire to his home, killing himself and his young sons, after he was denied custody and ordered to take a psycho-sexual evaluation.
The blaze at Powell's home on Sunday brought yet another twist in the very public scandal that began when Susan Powell vanished in 2009. The case had since spiralled into a salacious saga of finger-pointing and accusations of sex and lies.
A social worker brought the two boys to Josh Powell's home for what was to be a supervised visit, and Powell let his sons in -- but then blocked the social worker from entering, Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Franz said.
The social worker called her supervisors to report that she could smell gas. Moments later, the home burst into flames, igniting an inferno that neighbours said rattled their houses.
Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the sheriff of Pierce County, Washington, said it appeared some sort of accelerant was used to make the house burn.
He said emails Powell sent just prior to the explosion seemed to confirm that Powell planned the deadly blast.
Jeffrey Bassett, who represented Powell in the custody case, said he received an ominous email from his client just minutes before the blast.
"I'm sorry, goodbye," it read.
Susan Powell, a pretty 28-year-old mother of two, was reported missing on December 7, 2009, after she failed to show up to work in Utah. Authorities quickly turned their attention to Josh Powell. He's been the only "person of interest" in the case, but denied any involvement.
Police spent 12 days in the remote central Utah desert looking for clues, and Josh Powell and his father, Steven, quickly disappeared from the limelight.
The search area around Topaz Mountain was about 30 miles south of where Josh told police he went camping with his two children in the hours before his wife's disappearance.
Yesterday the lawyer for Susan Powell's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, said the children had started talking to their grandparents about things they remembered from the night their mother vanished.
"They were beginning to verbalise more," said Steve Downing. "The oldest boy talked about that they went camping and that Mommy was in the trunk. Mom and Dad got out of the car and Mom disappeared."
Police turned up no clues in their desert search, but a day before ending it, Steven Powell (61) was arrested at his Washington State home and accused of secretly videotaping his daughter-in-law, other women, and young girls taking baths in neighbourhood homes. The elder Powell is in jail facing child porn and voyeurism charges.
The children, Braden (5) and Charles (7), were ordered by a judge to go and live with Susan's parents as the parallel cases were investigated.