Timeline: The Powell Family’s Tragic Two Years

What began as a case of a missing Washington woman led, two years later, to the murder-suicide of her two sons and husband. A look back at Josh and Susan Powell's dramatic story

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Cliff Despeaux / Reuters

A Pierce County Sheriff's deputy cordons off the front of a house which was destroyed by a gas explosion in Graham, Washington February 5, 2012. The house explosion on Sunday killed the father and two boys involved a bitter custody dispute near Tacoma, Washington, authorities said.

Aug. 23, 2011: Susan’s father Chuck Cox and Josh showed up in court in Tacoma, where Josh claimed that Cox stalked and threatened him and his sons.

Aug. 25, 2011: Steven Powell claimed he and Susan had a sexual relationship and that he was falling in love with her. Steven, at this point in a Tacoma jail, was charged with child pornography and voyeurism, accused of videotaping women, including Susan, throughout his neighborhood while they were changing and in the bathroom.

Sept. 22, 2011: Steven was charged with 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of child pornography and Josh was named a subject in the investigation, prompting Susan’s parents to file to gain custody of Charles and Braden.

Sept. 28, 2011: The Powell boys were moved to the home of Chuck and Judy Cox, but Josh was allowed supervised visits.

Feb. 1, 2012: A judge ruled that Charles and Braden had to remain in the custody of Susan’s parents, not Josh, until he underwent a pyschosexual evaluation. Josh claimed in a court document that he had proved himself “a fit and loving father who provides a stable home even in the face of great adversity” and that “it is time for my sons to come home.”

Feb. 5, 2012: Josh sent an e-mail to his custody attorney, Jeffrey Bassett, saying, “I’m sorry, goodbye,” just minutes before he set fire to his home. He had taken his boys’ toys to Goodwill over the weekend.

Feb. 5, 2012: After the alleged murder-suicide, Steve Downing, the lawyer for Susan’s parents, told the AP that the children had started talking to their grandparents about things they remembered from the night their mother vanished. “They were beginning to verbalize more,” said Downing. “The oldest boy talked about that they went camping and that Mommy was in the trunk. Mom and Dad got out of the car, and Mom disappeared.”

Feb. 5, 2012: A candlelight vigil was held for the two boys outside the oldest son’s school in Puyallup.

Feb. 6, 2012: Chuck and Judy Cox said the Powell boys didn’t want to visit their father the day before but had to because of the court order. They also called attention to a drawing by Braden depicting the boys riding in the family minivan with their father driving. When asked why their mother was not in the vehicle, Chuck said Braden told him she was in the trunk.

Feb. 6, 2012: More details emerged: Josh had sent e-mails to friends saying he couldn’t live without his boys. Also, a hatchet was recovered near the bodies inside the rental home, and the boys had chop wounds consistent with that weapon — although they died of smoke inhalation.

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