Special Reports

Josh Powell's house demolished; site may become a playground

Neighbors looked on with relief Wednesday as a demolition crew knocked down and hauled away what was left of the Graham-area house where Josh Powell killed himself and his two sons.

“It’s a hell of a sight,” said owner Patrick Small, who rented the house to Powell. “Every time the neighbors walk out the door, they get reminded just by looking. It’s a horrible sight to look at.”

On Feb. 5, Pierce County sheriff’s deputies found Powell and his sons, Charlie, 7; and Braden, 5,  dead inside the home. The boys had been struck with a hatchet before their father set the house on fire.

Fire destroyed the home, but the burned-out shell remained – a constant reminder of the tragedy and, nearby residents said, an attraction for curiosity seekers and the media.

By 2 p.m. Wednesday, all that remained of the house was a pile of broken concrete, ready to be loaded into a dump truck.

Small was unsure about what will happen with the property.

“I had a couple of Realtors come and take a look,” he said. “They said it’s unsellable because of the traumatic impact.”

Some neighbors said Wednesday they would like to make a private memorial park out of the property. They’ve begun looking into options to buy it, they said, perhaps by establishing a nonprofit corporation and seeking contributions.

The group recently distributed fliers in the neighborhood, inviting residents to a meeting with the Puyallup-based Tears Foundation to explore possibilities.

What the neighbors have in mind is not a public park but an open play area for neighborhood children, Small said.

Before the fire, the house was appraised at $158,900 by the assessor’s office. Small said the structure was insured for $100,000.

“I’m out about 60,000 bucks,” he said.

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693