WEST VALLEY CITY — The mother of Josh Powell has broken her silence and says her son is a "loving and very engaged father in the care of his sons."
Terri Powell, 56, lives in Utah but has repeatedly turned down interview requests from the media. Family members say she wants to keep a very low profile, and has gone out of her way to avoid reporters during the ongoing investigations into her ex-husband, Steven Powell, and the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell, Josh's wife.
But in court documents regarding the recent shelter hearing for Josh and Susan Powell's two sons, Terri Powell wrote a letter to the court on behalf of her son.
Terri Powell said most of her contact with her grandsons since Josh moved back to Puyallup, Wash., has been by phone.
"I have talked with the boys themselves. They've sounded like normal, happy children, excited to tell me whatever their current interest or project is," she wrote in court documents.
She said the home atmosphere at Josh Powell's house has seemed "supportive and calm." Terri Powell said Josh takes extra care in teaching the boys how different things work.
"I have been relieved and pleased to note how very well (the boys) are doing, despite the trauma and sadness of missing their beloved mother. They seem to be continuing to thrive," she wrote.
Terri Powell concluded her comments by saying, "It is very apparent that (the boys) love their dad and that he loves them."
Terri Powell divorced Steven Powell in 1992, and noted his porn habit. In court documents, Terri Powell accused Steven Powell of damaging his children's respect for marriage.
Steven Powell remained in the Pierce County, Wash., jail Thursday on charges of possession of child pornography and voyeurism.
His mother's letter is one of eight that Josh Powell attached in his response to a motion by Chuck Cox, Susan Powell's father, to retain custody of his grandsons. Other letters are from Josh Powell's sister, brothers and family friends.
Josh Powell said he provides a "stable" home for his sons and their lives are one of a "normal loving family."
He admitted, in court documents, that since his wife's disappearance, his relationship with Chuck and Judy Cox has been "very complicated" and "highly emotional."
All of the letters submitted on behalf of Josh Powell talk about him being a loving, caring father. Letters submitted by family members also took issue with Jennifer Graves, Josh's sister who has been estranged from the Powell family for several years and has criticized both Steven and Josh Powell in interviews. Alina Powell referred to Jennifer in her letter as her "former" sister.
In other recently released court documents filed by Judy Cox, she noted that when the boys spent the night at her house on Sept. 27 when she and Chuck Cox received temporary custody, she said the boys told their grandparents that they were "mean."
"Both children voiced, 'My daddy said that you,' meaning Chuck, 'was mean.' Chuck answered back, 'Do you think I'm mean?' The children responded, 'No,'" she wrote in court documents.
On Sept. 28, however, a Pierce County judge ordered the children could not return to the Powell home because of safety concerns and temporarily placed them with the Cox family. Josh Powell was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation and parenting classes before the court would consider placing the children back in his home. A hearing is scheduled for next month.
The decision to place the children with the Cox family was based on the decision by the Pierce County Sheriff's Office to pull the boys out of the house and place them in protective custody, which prompted the hearing in the "shelter care dependency case." Chuck and Judy Cox had also filed a custody petition for their grandchildren, which is now on hold while this dependency case runs its course.
Susan Powell has been missing since December of 2009. West Valley police consider her husband a person of interest in her disappearance because they say he has been uncooperative.