CPS Worker Pleaded for Cops to Come Before Powell Blew Up House
(GRAHAM, Wash.) -- Moments before Josh Powell ignited a gas-fueled explosion at his home, killing himself and his two children, a locked-out child services worker pleaded with a 911 operator to get police to the home because she feared for the two boys' lives.
Elizabeth Griffin-Hall, who had brought the boys to Powell's home for a supervised visit, called 911 after she said the man let the two boys into the house but slammed the door in her face.
"Nothing like this has ever happened before -- one of these supervised visits. I'm really shocked," she said in the 911 call, one of seven released Tuesday evening. "I can hear the kids crying but he still wouldn't let me in."
She told the 911 operator she wanted to move her car out of the driveway because she smelled gas coming from the house, and then asked for police to be sent to the home. But the 911 operator said officers only get sent to life-threatening situations.
"This could be life-threatening," she said. "He went to court on Wednesday and he didn't get his kids back. I'm afraid for their lives."
Moments later, with Powell's house engulfed in flames, she called back and told a 911 operator she believed he intentionally blew up the house, killing himself and his children.
That same day, Powell's distraught sister, Alina Powell, called 911 to say she was receiving "weird" messages from her brother via email and voicemail that made her too "terrified to drive over there" herself.
"I'm not afraid of him," she told the emergency operator through sobs. "He's never hurt me. I'm afraid of seeing something I don't want to see."
The deadly house explosion likely exceeded even her worst fears.
"People are saying there's not somebody here," Griffin-Hall said in another 911 call after the explosion, "but I was just there, and there is somebody here. There's two little boys in the house and they're 5 and 7, and there's an adult man, and he has supervised visits, and he blew up the house and the kids."
When the 911 operator asked her if she believed he did it "intentionally," she answered, "Yes."
Police had called Josh Powell a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, Susan Powell, who he claimed went missing from their Utah home after he and his then 2- and 4-year-old sons went on a midnight camping trip in December 2009.
He was never arrested or charged, but he lost custody of his sons after his father, Steven Powell, was arrested in September and charged with 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of child pornography. The pornographic images were kept in the home the two men shared with Josh and Susan Powell's boys.
At a custody hearing last week, a judge said Josh Powell would have to undergo a psychosexual exam before he could get his kids back.
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