(SEATTLE) — Josh Powell, the husband of missing Utah mother Susan Powell, set off an explosion at his Washington home Sunday that killed himself and his two sons, who were there for a supervised visit, police said.
“We believe that he killed his kids and himself,” Pierce County, Wash., Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Ed Troyer said.
Graham, Wash., Deputy Chief Gary Franz told ABC News that a Child Protective Services (CPS) worker had just dropped off Powell’s two sons at the house for a supervised visit. Powell took his two sons inside the house and then locked the CPS worker out.
“The children were just right in front of her as she was walking up to the door,” Child Protective Services spokeswoman Sherry Hill said. “They went into the house and Josh shut the door right in front of her and locked it.”
The CPS worker smelled gas, stepped away and the house exploded. The case worker was not physically harmed.
“He grabbed the kids, locked her out of the house, and immediately the house went up in flames, very quickly, very big, so we believe that Josh Powell intentionally set this fire,” Troyer said.
Firefighters arrived at the scene and found the three bodies. Police are awaiting verification from the Medical Examiner’s Office, but said they believe the bodies are those of Josh Powell and his two sons.
Troyer told ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle that emails Powell sent to authorities seemed to confirm that Powell planned the explosion. Troyer did not elaborate on the contents of the emails.
Josh Powell was the only named person of interest in Susan Powell’s 2009 disappearance, but he had not been charged. The couple’s two sons were placed in custody of Susan Powell’s parents in 2011 after Josh Powell’s father, Steve Powell, was arrested on charges of voyeurism and child pornography.
At a hearing Wednesday, a statement from the West Valley City, Utah, police noted that information and images were found on Josh Powell’s computer that, “specifically related to their children’s welfare,” according to ABC News affiliate KTVX-TV in Salt Lake City.
The police did not specify what the information was, but Judge Kathryn J. Nelson ruled that because of that information, Josh Powell would not be allowed to have his children back until he submitted to a psychosexual evaluation and a polygraph test, the report said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Aaron Smith, CNN
Sarah Anderson, Deseret News
David Goldman, CNN
Heather Kelly, CNN