Josh Powell’s relatives want him buried at the same cemetery as the two young sons he killed, in a plot just overlooking their grave, Puyallup’s city manager said Wednesday.
Powell’s relatives visited the public Woodbine Cemetery and selected a plot just up a hill from the boys, about 80 to 100 feet away, City Manager Ralph Dannenberg said.
The grave, which is in view of the boys’ plot, has been dug and was covered with plywood Wednesday. The Powells haven’t paid for it yet, and any sale is being put on hold because the parents of Powell’s missing wife, Susan Cox Powell, have promised legal action, Dannenberg said.
“We don’t have any rules or procedures regarding refusing plots to anyone,” Dannenberg said. “We’re going to wait to see what the outcome is in court.”
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Josh Powell was a person of interest in his wife’s 2009 disappearance from their home in West Valley City, Utah. He attacked his sons, Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5, with a hatchet and blew up his Graham-area house, killing himself and the two boys Feb. 5.
More than 1,400 mourners attended a memorial service for the boys Saturday. The boys later were laid to rest in a single casket at Woodbine, and Susan Powell’s parents, Charles and Judy Cox of Puyallup, hope to bury her there too if her remains are ever found.
Attorney Anne Bremner, who represents the Coxes, said she will seek a temporary restraining order to block Josh Powell from being buried near the boys. She said she could pursue claims against the city for emotional wrongs and outrage on behalf of the Coxes if the burial goes forward.
“For him to be buried near those kids is just unthinkable,” Bremner said. “For God’s sake, for them to lose Susan first, and then the boys, and now this? Just give these people a break.”
Powell’s sister, Alina, did not return an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Steve Downing, another attorney for the Coxes, said his office received a series of anonymous calls Tuesday afternoon reporting that Josh Powell’s relatives had visited the cemetery. Concerned, he emailed the City of Puyallup on Tuesday night and asked to be notified of any plans to bury Josh Powell there.
“Same cemetery, different destinations,” was what he initially told his clients about the matter. But after speaking with the Coxes further, he said, they feared “they couldn’t go see their daughter or their grandsons with any peace at all” if Powell’s remains were nearby.
Josh Powell had always claimed that he didn’t know what happened to his wife. He took the boys – then 2 and 4 – on a midnight camping trip in freezing weather in the Utah desert, he said, and when he returned home the next day, authorities were at the house looking for her.
Weeks later, he moved the boys to his father Steve’s home in Puyallup. After Steve Powell’s arrest on voyeurism and child pornography charges last fall, the boys were removed from the house and turned over to the Coxes.
On Feb. 5, a social worker brought them to Josh Powell’s rental home for what was supposed to be a court-sanctioned supervised visit. Powell let the boys inside, locked the social worker out and killed them.
A Pierce County Superior Court judge had recently ordered that Powell undergo a psychosexual evaluation if he hoped to regain custody, and in a last-minute message to his sister he said he couldn’t live without his boys.
Steve Powell filed paperwork in Pierce County Superior Court on Tuesday notifying the FBI, West Valley City police and other Utah law enforcement agencies that he won’t talk to them without his lawyer present.
West Valley City police have expressed interest in talking to the elder Powell, who’s being held in the Pierce County Jail, regarding his daughter-in-law’s disappearance.
The notice, a standard legal form filed on behalf of defendants in Pierce County Superior Court, also lists the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Tacoma police, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington State Patrol as law enforcement agencies prohibited from talking to Powell without his attorney present.
News Tribune staff writer Adam Lynn contributed to this report.