In December of 2009, 28-year-old Susan Cox Powell went missing in Utah. Her family knew that the devoted mother would never willingly leave her two young sons. Susan's husband, Josh Powell, was suspected of killing her but was not arrested.
The sad story took an even sadder turn on February 5th, 2012, when the boys were forced by a court order to visit their father. Seven-year-old Charlie and five-year-old Braden had been living with their grandparents, Chuck and Judy Cox, who feared for the boys' safety. The worried grandparents reluctantly allowed their grandsons to go with the appointed social worker for the "supervised visit."
When they arrived at Josh Powell's home, the boys ran ahead of the
social worker. "They were one step ahead of me," she later reported. Josh locked out the frantic woman and set the house on fire.
The social worker desperately begged a confused 9-1-1 operator to send help as long minutes dragged on. At one point, the operator told her that the police had to respond to "life-threatening situations first."
Josh Powell and his two sons died before help could arrive.
Ann Rule had been trying to avoid cases where children are victims as she finds it too emotionally draining to immerse herself in their stories. But she had been already working on Susan's story before the shocking murder of Charlie and Braden. Susan's family expected her to finish the book, and she did. (Ann was especially touched to learn that she was one of Susan Cox Powell's favorite authors.)
Ann was determined to write a book that would honor the memory of the three victims and call attention to the fact that we need stricter laws concerning visitations with abusive, estranged parents. Click here to listen to the 9-1-1 call.
Chuck and Judy Cox hope to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again. Please visit their page by clicking here: Susan Cox Powell Foundation
Watch the videos below to see interviews with the victims' family.
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