Josh Powell Won't Be Buried in Same Cemetery With Murdered Sons

Police bought two burial plots next to the boys to thwart burial efforts.

Feb. 16, 2011— -- Josh Powell will not be buried in the same cemetery as with the two sons that he killed, Josh Powell's mother said today.

Terri Powell, who has remained out of the public eye since her son killed himself and sons Charles, 7, and Braden, 5, earlier this month, released a statement saying she would not try to bury her son near near the boys that he killed with a hatchet and an explosive house fire.

"We have tried so hard to be loving and considerate and respectful in making Josh's burial arrangements," Terri Powell said. "We love our little Charlie and Braden and want their resting place to be a place of peace and comfort. We have made the determination that Josh will not be buried at Woodbine Cemetery, but are in the process of making other arrangements.

"Thank you to all who have so lovingly supported us in this time of inexpressible anguish. Our hearts go out to all of you who – like us – are reeling with shock and grief," her statement said.

Josh Powell's mother released the statement after a firestorm of criticism this week that the Powell family would try and bury him near the boys. The boys' maternal grandparents, Chuck and Judy Cox, threatened legal action to keep Josh Powell's grave away from the burial plot, and local police officers donated money to buy the two burial plots next to Charlie and Braden.

"Just to make sure that no plaques or no mention of Josh or anybody are around those boys that doesn't deserve to be or need to be," police department spokesman Ed Troyer told ABC News' affiliate KOMO News in Seattle. "We think that is a place people are going to ... be hurting for years and years and years around here, and we didn't want any chance of Josh being there."

Terri Powell has rarely spoken publicly about her son, who was the sole person of interest in the 2009 disappearance of his wife, Susan Cox Powell. Terri divorced Josh's father, Stephen, in 1992, and Josh lived with his father. But Terri wrote a letter to state authorities on behalf of Josh last year during his attempt to regain custody of the boys. She said Josh was a loving and caring father to his sons.

Thousands of dollars in donations poured into Pierce County Crimestoppers to buy the two burial plots on either side of the brother's shared casket in an effort to prevent Powell from being buried so close to the boys. Even the sheriff in town donated $100 to the cause.

Powell's relatives had 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 told The Associated Press. The grandparents of the dead children said it was outrageous that their father would be near the boys he killed.

"I can't see this happening. I just hope it goes away quickly," said Chuck Cox, the grandfather of the boys and father of their mother Susan Powell, who went missing under suspicious circumstances in 2009.

The Cox family attorney plans to file a temporary restraining order to stop the sale of the plot until a judge is able to intervene in the situation.

Powell, who reportedly became upset when he was denied custody of his two sons, slammed the door on social worker Elizabeth Griffin-Hall on Feb. 5 when she brought Charlie and Braden for a biweekly supervised visit with their father. Within a few minutes the entire house burst into flames, which is believed to have been caused by Josh Powell leaking gas into the house and igniting it.

New details have now emerged about those harrowing final moments before Josh Powell killed himself and his sons.

Investigators said that Josh Powell's charred body was found with a five-gallon gas can between his knees, and they believe his two boys were unconscious before he set the explosion. Their father had brutally wounded the boys by attacking them with a hatchet before blowing up the home, according to police and the medical examiner.

Search teams have also been scouring a nearby recycling center for clues into the disappearance of Susan Powell, who vanished from her home while Josh Powell and her boys were on a spontaneous late-night camping trip, but so far have come up short.

"There was some paperback books with Susan's name, a map that we've tied to them, but there's no markings on it," Ed Troyer told ABC News


At a nearby storage unit detectives said they found a blood-stained comforter, along with gas cans that looked like the ones found at the house.

Josh Powell Not Wanted in Cemetery

Detectives have also said now that the home that Josh Powell blew up in Graham, Wash., was a sham that was exclusively set up for the social worker visits with his boys.

Pierce County authorities said that Josh Powell was still living at his father's home right up until his death, and only rented a small home nearby to convince authorities that was where he was living so he could regain custody of his children.

Neighbors at the rented home told police they never saw Powell there, while his father's neighbors said Josh Powell was there all the time. Police also said the home was decorated with pictures of the boys' missing mother.

Meanwhile, Steven Powell, Josh Powell's father, has submitted a notice to law enforcement in Pierce County Superior Court invoking his Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions posed to him by authorities about the case.

Steven Powell, who has been in jail since investigators found thousands of images of child pornography and graphic decorations on his compute, had previously been outspoken about his daughter-in-law's disappearance, making statements to the media about how Susan likely ran away from her family to be with another man.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News late last year Steven Powell said that he said that he had a relationship with Susan Powell that went beyond the fray, which included sexual touching, and admitted that he was in love with her. Police have now called him a "person of interest" in her disappearance.

Watch an in-depth look at the Powell tragedy online on "20/20: Sins of the Father."