In the months before 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden Powell were killed by their father, they spent time with Pierce County sheriff’s detectives.
Those same detectives, in the spirit of honoring the boys’ memory, now are working to help outfit children who are in between homes without basic items they need.
“A lot of the detectives worked with the children,” detective Sgt. Brian Lund said. “The same folks that had dealt with the boys and interacted with the boys were now in a position where they were recovering their bodies. I think it was something that all of us saw and wanted to make something positive out of it.”
During the investigation following the Powell boys’ deaths, detectives found a poster of a dinosaur with Charlie’s name on it.
That became the inspiration for the project started by five detectives in March. They call the project Charlie’s Dinosaur.
“We thought using that picture would be a good way to kind of give back to other kids, using their memory,” Lund said.
They’re in the process of making tags with pictures of the dinosaur drawing to attach to the backpacks they hand out with the supplies, and they use the outline of the picture as a logo.
The group fills each bag with things such as clothing, shampoo and toys.
“What we wanted to do is give the kids something they can have ownership of when they’re being taken out of whatever situation they’re in and being brought to a foster home,” Lund said.
The Powell boys spent time in foster care during the investigation into their mother’s 2009 disappearance.
They died Feb. 5 on a visit to their father, Josh Powell, who struck them with a hatchet and lit the house he was renting on fire. All three died.
While Lund himself didn’t work with the boys, he assisted on the case and interviewed other children when he served in the department’s sexual-assault unit.
“We get to see a little bit more of the kids and of what happens in a longer sense,” Lund said. “To see something really terrible happen to them, it brings up a lot of emotions.”
Charlie’s Dinosaur has given out about 50 of the packs so far, many with stuffed animals. The bags go to places like Child Protective Services and the YWCA.
The last of the packs given to the YWCA went to two boys earlier this week, volunteer and resource coordinator Caitlin White said. They’ve handed out at least 10, she said, most to families at their domestic-violence shelter.
“They don’t have what they consider home,” White said. “It takes the sting away from having to leave certain things behind.”
The detectives work on the project during their own time, which has been difficult to find given the 17 homicides they’ve had to investigate already this year, compared to 11 total in 2011.
“It’s hard to get any off time when you’re doing overtime as well,” Lund said.
Working on the project breaks up some of that tragedy.
“Those boys knew our detectives,” sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. “The detectives, instead of always seeing these horrible homicide scenes, they get to do a little good.”
Charlie’s Dinosaur drive
When: 3-8 p.m. today.
Where: Walmart, 310 Mosolf Road, Puyallup.
Donations can mailed to or dropped off any day at Tacoma-Pierce County Crime Stoppers, 6824 19th St. W. #139, University Place, 98466.
Charlie’s Dinosaur needs:
Kids clothing, ages 3- 16 (boys and girls)
Undergarments, including socks (boys and girls)
Pajamas (long pants and tops); practical, not fancy.
Sweatsuits (boys and girls)
Heavy and light coats (girls and boys)
Hats/caps/gloves (girls and boys)
School backpacks (girls and boys)
Airline carry-on bags with wheels (small)
Hair brushes and combs
Toothbrushes and toothpaste
Deodorant (boys and girls)
Shampoo and conditioner
Curling irons, flat irons and blow-dryers
Small radio alarm clocks
Pens and pencils
School supplies (all types)
Colored pencils, crayons, coloring books
Craft kits, puzzles, travel games
Children’s books, young adult and teen booksalexis.krell@ thenewstribune.com 253-597-8268 blog.thenewstribune.com/crime Source: Charlie’s Dinosaur