Special Reports

Powell's mundane final hours before atrocity: Errands at bank, storage unit and Fred Meyer

It seemed like a typical Saturday to-do list.

Go to the bank. Stop by Fred Meyer. Make a trip to the storage unit.

Josh Powell spent his last day alive running the errands that mark the humdrum of daily life.

Powell, it turns out, checked off the items on his list with monstrous intent.

The next day, he committed an atrocity beyond comprehension:

Attacking his young sons, Charlie and Braden, with a hatchet before setting his Graham-area house on fire with them inside.

The boys and Powell perished as the social worker assigned to supervise their weekly Sunday visit pounded on the door outside and haggled with a 911 operator.

Court documents, some made public Friday, give a picture of how Powell spent Saturday.

At one point he drove to West Valley Self Storage in Sumner, court records state, where he kept some of his belongings in Unit 141.

Detectives did not report the exact time Powell went there, and a worker at the storage facility wouldn’t answer questions about him Friday.

Investigators searched Powell’s storage unit Tuesday. They found some plastic bins, toys, kids’ clothes and framed photos, court records show.

They also recovered a comforter stained with what appears to be blood.

Detectives gave the toys, clothes, photos and such to Charles and Judy Cox, the boys’ maternal grandparents. The Coxes had court-ordered custody of Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5.

Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said the comforter was turned over to West Valley City, Utah, police, who are investigating the disappearance and presumed murder of Powell’s wife, Susan Cox Powell.

West Valley City police will test the comforter to see whether it’s relevant to their investigation, Troyer said. It was too early to tell Friday.

Powell’s been a “person of interest” in his wife’s disappearance since she went missing in December 2009, but he was never arrested or charged.

Also Saturday, Powell also went to the Bank of America branch at 17516 Meridian St. E. A surveillance photo from the bank shows him at a teller’s window at 11:19 a.m.

He withdrew nearly $7,000 in cash during that visit, court records show. What he did with that money remained unknown Friday.

On Sunday morning, just minutes before he killed his sons, Powell sent out email instructions to some friends and relatives about what he wanted done with this money and other property, investigators have said.

Also Saturday, Powell is thought to have stopped by the Fred Meyer store at 17404 Meridian Ave. E. some time between 7:44 p.m. and 8:12 p.m, according to Sheriff’s Department records.

“Det. Tom Catey contacted Fred Meyer store security and was advised there is video of a male subject they believe to be Powell purchasing a gas canister within 24 hours prior to the homicide,” court records show.

Investigators later found two gas cans inside the burned-out house where Powell and his sons died. They believe he poured gasoline throughout the house, and possibly on his sons, before igniting the inferno.

Powell also is thought to have dropped off a box of toys and books at a Salvation Army donation center in the Fred Meyer parking lot, according to Sheriff’s Department records.

A woman called detectives Monday to say she’d taken a box of toys and books from the center Sunday night and found the names of Josh and Susan Powell written inside some of the books, the records indicate.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644



Staff writer Stacey Mulick contributed to this report.