CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Charlie and Braden Powell are remembered by those who love them

Feb 13, 2019, 2:03 AM
Charlie and Braden Powell...
Teddy bears in Charlie and Braden Powell's bedroom at the home of Chuck and Judy Cox.. (Photo: Ravell Call / Deseret News)
(Photo: Ravell Call / Deseret News)

Jennifer Graves told Cold‘s Dave Cawley that she learned what had happened — that Charlie and Braden Powell had been murdered on Feb. 5, 2012 — when her friend, Kiirsi Hellewell, called.

She could barely understand what she was saying. Kiirsi was practically in hysterics. Her voice was panicked; so overwhelmed with emotion that she struggled to get a full sentence out. Still, Jennifer could pick out a few key words. She was saying something about an explosion, that she was sure of – and something about Josh’s kids.

That was how she found out that, two states over, in Graham, Wash., her brother Josh Powell had done something unthinkable. She’d spent the last two years convinced that he was responsible for the disappearance of his wife, Susan. Now, with Kiirsi’s news, any last shadow of doubt was erased.

Josh Powell had killed himself and his two sons.

Chuck Cox visits the crime scene

Chuck Cox

Chuck Cox stands inside of the bedroom he’d set up for Charlie and Braden Powell. (Photo: Ravell Call / Deseret News)

There was only one person Jennifer could think of calling when she learned what was happening: the boys’ grandfather, Chuck Cox.

Chuck and his wife Judy lived in South Hill, not too far from Josh’s home. He’d spent most of the last two years fighting to get Josh’s children, Charlie and Braden, out of their fathers’ reach. Josh was the lead suspect in their mother Susan’s disappearance and presumed death, and Chuck and Judy wanted to keep the last pieces they had of their daughter safe.

They had suffered more than anyone; and yet, when word of what happened reached him, Chuck knew that he would be the one that everybody who loved Charlie and Braden would turn to. By the time Jennifer called, he was already on his way to the scene of the crime, determined to see it for himself.

Chuck Cox with Charlie and Braden Powell

Chuck Cox plays with his grandsons, Charlie and Braden Powell. (Photo: Cox Family)

“I know that other people are going to want to know: is it true or is it not? Somebody has to find out and actually look and see what’s going on,” Chuck said. “It was me. So I went and did what I needed to do.”

Jennifer was just one of many people who’d be calling Chuck, hoping he’d have some kind of answers. He was on his way, he promised her. He would figure out what was really going on and call her right back.

By the time he made it, there was little left in the charred remains of what had once been Josh’s home. Most of the walls and nearly everything inside had been completely destroyed.

It was true. It had really happened. Josh had killed his boys. And all Chuck could do about it now was call the people who needed to know and turn back home.

Jennifer Graves breaks down

Jennifer Graves

Jennifer Graves, sister of Josh Powell, talking with the media about the murder of Charlie and Braden Powell on Feb. 8, 2012. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred / Deseret News)

Jennifer didn’t wait for Chuck to call her back. She couldn’t stand sitting in her husband’s office, the two of them just waiting for some kind of word. They called him first, then struggled to deal with the news.

“It was such a – such a weight,” Jennifer told Cold’s Dave Cawley, speaking slowly as she struggled to get out the words. “Such a horrible – a horrible thing.”

She says that she shut down, that her mind was incapable of comprehending that this had really happened.

“I just remember sinking through the floor, thinking: ‘I should tell someone. This is really bad. And I should tell people that this has happened.’”

She took her phone and stared at it, unable to remember how to make it work. In her shock, the part of her brain that could use a phone just wouldn’t move. And so for a moment, all she could do was sit and stare, too numb to act.

When she finally managed to move her fingers, she sent out a message that came from a place of anger and shock; one so blunt that, to this day, she still regrets sending.

“It was something to the effect of: ‘Josh has blown up his house with Charlie and Braden in it, and they’re all dead,’” Jennifer said. “Oh my goodness. If I had received that message? Oh! Oh, how horrible!”

Josh Powell's home

Police sift through the ruined home of Josh Powell. (Photo: Ravell Call / Deseret News)

One of Jennifer’s cousins would later tell her that, when she received the message, she was in church. In the middle of service, she’d stood up and just stared at her phone, unsure what else to do. Then, when it finally worked its way through her mind, she’d just left without a word of explanation.

“It was horrible,” Jennifer told Cawley. “It was horrible.”

There was only one thought, Jennifer says, that kept her going.

“I remember thinking – even through the pain, somewhere deep down inside – they’re okay. They’re okay because they’re now with their Mom and with Heavenly Father and Jesus,” Jennifer said.

“That was like a little glimmer of light through the whole thing that just kept me from completely collapsing.”

Cold: Episode 14

Charlie and Susan Powell

Charlie Powell with his mother, Susan. (Photo: Powell Family / West Valley City Police)

Jennifer, Chuck, and nearly a dozen other people who love and care for Charlie and Braden Powell shared their stories with Dave Cawley.

In Cold’s most difficult episode, they tell about the heartbreak they endured on that horrible day.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Crime, Police + Courts

Five former Memphis police officers who were fired for their actions during the arrest of Tyre Nich...
Eric Levenson, Melissa Alonso and Chris Boyette, CNN

Five former Memphis police officers indicted on charges of murder

The former officers were each charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault among other charges.
22 hours ago
White carnations representing each of the 1,746 unborn babies that were aborted in Utah in 2022 are...
Allessandra Harris and Simone Seikaly

Speeches, silence, during Pro-Life Utah memorial at the Capitol

About 100 people including Utah lawmakers and religious leaders attended the memorial on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.
22 hours ago
School Shooting Newport News...
Aya Elamroussi, Chris Boyette, Dakin Andone and Michelle Watson, CNN

School board votes to cut ties with superintendent weeks after 6-year-old allegedly shot teacher

Administrators were warned that the child had a gun the day when a teacher was shot at the front door of Richneck Elementary School
22 hours ago
Crash totals...
Mark Jones

UHP: Semi rollover in Juab County has claimed at least one life

The Utah Highway Patrol says a semi rollover has resulted in the death of at least one person.
2 days ago
Photo from the National Transportation Safety Board investigation into a fatal crash at the Provo a...
Waverly Golden

Investigation of fatal accident at Provo airport includes witness statements

A crash at the Provo airport left one dead and three passengers with injuries on Jan. 2, 2023, an investigation reveals witness statements of the incident.
2 days ago
A fatal crash on Northbound Mountain View Corridor has caused...
Waverly Golden

Fatal crash on Mountain View Corridor causes significant delays

The West Valley City Police Department said a fatal crash on Northbound Mountain View Corridor has caused significant delays.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
Charlie and Braden Powell are remembered by those who love them