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.

Today’s Top Stories


IRS texts are bogus. Picture shows a sign saying "warning, scam alert" on a keyboard...
Mark Jackson

IRS warns taxpayers of ‘smishing’ scams involving IRS-themed texts

The IRS never texts asking for personal information, and it warns that messages claiming to be from the IRS are bogus and risky. Texting scams aim to get people's personal data.
17 hours ago
A Utah OB-GYN is accused of sexual assault. Picture shows a woman getting a sonogram...
Elizabeth Weiler

Judge dismisses lawsuit alleging OB-GYN sexually assaulted over 100 women

A judge dismissed a lawsuit in Provo involving several women who accused a Utah OB-GYN of sexual assault.
17 hours ago
Zachary Snarr Yvette Rodier The Letter suvivor guilt...
Amy Donaldson

“The Letter” – Survivor guilt after the death of Zachary Snarr

Surviving the shooting that claimed the life of Zachary Snarr stole the small things and gave Yvette Rodier a type of guilt she didn't expect.
17 hours ago
(Getty Images)...
Mark Jones

Man in possession of fentanyl pills, heroin arrested at SLC airport

A Weber County man was charged in court after being arrested last week in possession of roughly 4,100 fentanyl pills and 378 dosages of heroin.
2 days ago
University of utah sign pictured, an assault off campus at a frat house is being investigated...
Becky Bruce

SLCPD investigating reported sexual assault at frat house near University of Utah

An alert went out to University of Utah faculty, staff and students saying the sexual assault happened at the Pi Kappa Alpha frat house.
2 days ago
Wayne Hsiung (front) holds a piglet at Circle Four Farms in Milford, Utah (Credit: Direct Action Ev...
Elizabeth Weiler

Day 1 in ‘landmark case’ for animal rights

Animal rights activists are facing charges in the first day of in court.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Charlie and Braden Powell are remembered by those who love them