Special Reports

'Place that needs healing': Powell boys mourned

Nobody used the word “exorcism,” but it seemed to apply.

About 30 people, including religious leaders from a half-dozen faiths, gathered Saturday morning at the house where Josh Powell killed himself and his two sons, seeking to use prayer and symbolic ritual to rid the place of whatever evil might remain.

“Father, this is a place that needs healing,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Chaplain Rick Bulman prayed. “We ask that you turn this into hallowed ground.”

The small group, huddled under umbrellas and shivering from the cold, shared personal reflections about the deaths of the Powell family and chanted in unison, “Save us, Oh God, from all evil.”

What was left of the Graham-area rental house, which Powell doused with gasoline and set on fire Feb. 5, gave off the acrid stench of wet ashes. Steady rain turned a pile of stuffed animals left as a tribute to Charlie and Braden Powell into a sodden, multicolored mound.

During the symbolic cleansing, Rev. Heidi Calhoun sprinkled “holy” water over the site, using a branch from a nearby holly bush to shake droplets over the six-foot cyclone security fence set up by authorities to keep the curious away.

As Calhoun worked her way partway around the perimeter, the Rev. Chris Morton, the executive director of Associated Ministries, called out, “Come, Spirit, to this place. As we sprinkle this water, come, Spirit, and redeem this space and people from the violence and death that has occurred here.”

Associated Ministries has been conducting similar blessing ceremonies at murder sites in Pierce County for 12 years.

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693