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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020

Man kills self, two sons in fire at Washington home: police

US authorities say that Josh Powell, whose wife has been missing for two years, intentionally set his home on fire during his children’s visit.

Josh Powell's devastated home near Fredrickson, Washington.
Josh Powell's devastated home near Fredrickson, Washington.
Image: AP Photo/John Froschauer/PA Images

THE HUSBAND of missing Utah woman Susan Powell has been killed along with the couple’s two young sons after a major fire at his home in Washington state yesterday.

The two boys, aged seven and five, had just arrived for a supervised visit with a social worker, but Josh Powell locked her out of the house after admitting his sons to the house.

The social worker contacted her supervisors to say she could smell petrol, but moment later the house burst into flames.

A spokesperson for Pierce County Sheriff said that it appeared an accelerant had been used to help the flames spread more quickly. The Seattle Times reports that sheriff spokesperson Sgt Ed Troyer described the incident as a double murder-suicide.

Sheriff Paul Pastor said: “Do not call it a tragedy because that sanitizes it. This was a terrible act of murder involving two young children.”

An aerial view of the remains of Josh Powell’s home after yesterday’s fire. (AP Photo/Ted S Warren/PA Images)

The Associated Press reports that Powell’s lawyer Jeffrey Bassett said he received an email from his client minutes before the blaze broke out in which Powell wrote, “I’m sorry, goodbye.”

Susan Powell has been missing since December 2009. Her husband said he took the two children camping that day.

Fox News reported last week that Susan’s parents were given custody of both children after a judge ruled that Josh Powell must undergo psycho-sexual evaluations before being considered for custody of his children.

The judge noted that explicit child porn had been found in Powell’s home, which he shared with his sons and his father.

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His father Steven Powell is facing child porn charges and charges arising from accusations he secretly filmed his daughter-in-law Susan and other women in the area in their bathrooms. He has also claimed he was in a sexual relationship with his daughter-in-law, which her family denies.

Josh Powell’s brother-in-law Kirk Graves said he was stunned by the news of the three deaths, saying that “you just don’t expect it from a father”.

“His world was falling apart around him and he was going to lose his boys and get arrested for Susan’s disappearance. He’s a narcissist and he has no love for anyone but himself,” Graves told the AP.

- Additional reporting by the AP

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