Posted Feb 06, 2012 11:21 am CST
Minutes before apparently setting his Washington state home on fire yesterday, killing himself and his two young sons, Josh Powell sent an email to his lawyer.
“I’m sorry, goodbye,” it read. The lawyer, Jeffrey Bassett, didn’t receive it until a couple of hours after it was sent, but even if he had gotten it immediately, there was nothing he or anyone else could have done to rescue the children, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A social worker who had taken the boys, age 7 and 5, to their father’s home for a supervised visitation, called 911 after she was locked out of the house and smelled gas. She also ran around the house, beating on the doors and windows, to no avail, after the house exploded into flames and is being treated for emotional trauma.
Powell, 36, had been fighting for custody of the children and seeking to have their custody transferred from his wife’s parents to someone more neutral about him. He was considered a person of interest concerning his wife’s disappearance in 2009 from the family’s then-current home in Utah, during a snowstorm.
Bassett told the Associated Press he found the email around 2 p.m. on Sunday, after being told of the fire. His client had been upset by being ordered last week to undergo a psychosexual evaluation in the custody case, Bassett said. However, he had no idea that anything like this might occur, reports the Seattle Times.
Investigations are being conducted to determine the cause of the fire and how the victims died. But circumstantial evidence told its own story, a number of observers said. Among them was Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor:
“What happened here … was an act of evil. Do not call it a tragedy because that sanitizes it,” he said near the burned-out shell of the home. “This was a terrible act of murder involving two young children.”
Attorney Steve Downing, who represents the parents of Powell’s missing wife, Susan, told the Associated Press that the two boys had recently begun to say more about their mom.
“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,” said Downing.