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Focus returns to Powell children today

TACOMA — The case against Josh Powell, the horrific fire at his house, speculation about whether it could have been prevented, and the bitter feud between the Powell and Cox families have been front and center for nearly a week.

The crush of information continued Friday as investigators released new information on evidence collected from a storage unit, plans to continue searching for clues at a recycling center Sunday, and confirming that Josh Powell did not visit his father in jail in the week prior to the deaths. There is no information that anyone other than Josh Powell knew about his plot. The case, stretched over two years, was reviewed nationally Friday on the "Today" show, "Dr. Phil" and on "Dateline NBC."

Today the pastor of the Life Center Church says the focus should return to Charlie and Braden Powell.

"There have been so many distractions. People want to make it about the protesters or about other things. This is about two little kids who tragically had their lives ended," Dean Curry said while making final preparations for today's funeral for the two boys.

"I'm going to remind everybody that it's about the kids, because there's been a lot of talk about the grownups that have surrounded this story. And it's not a religious story, it's not a political story, it's a sad story about two happy little guys who love their family and had a lot of promise ahead of them and now they're in heaven."

Funeral services for Josh and Susan Powell's children, ages 5 and 7, will be held Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. PST. A private family interment was scheduled to follow.

Because of an expected large turnout, the funeral was moved to Life Center Church in Tacoma, part of the Assemblies of God ministry. The church auditorium holds 1,800 people and can accommodate 475 in overflow areas. The service will be carried live on both and beginning at noon MST.

Brian Curnow of the Curnow Funeral Home said there has been an overwhelming response to the death of the two boys; he has received calls from all over the United States, including one Friday morning from a woman in Oklahoma who wanted to share a poem her husband had written.

On the funeral home's website, condolence notes had been written from people as far away as New Zealand, France and South Africa.

A police escort will take the family from Puyallup to Tacoma Saturday morning. The bodies of Charlie and Braden will be in one adult casket that will be blue, Curry said. The Cox family wanted the boys to stay together.

A movement on Facebook is encouraging everyone to wear blue Saturday in honor of the boys. During the funeral service, a children's choir will sing "Amazing Grace," the boys' schoolteachers will remember them in talks, as will the pastor who was with the boys during the custody battle. Chuck and Judy Cox will follow with remarks and are expected to thank the community for its support.

"We've had great support from many people, and it's clear that people all over the world are affected by this horrendous act and care about our grandsons," Chuck Cox said in a Friday morning interview broadcast on the "Today" show. "We want to share with them and allow some other people to have some closure on that part of it so we felt it would be only right to allow people the ability to grieve and take part of a memorial service."

"It's going to be about the kids and remembering their lives," Curry said. "We'd like to recapture some of the innocence that was taken, not just from those kids but from the whole community because we really feel like this could be a healing moment … we want to make sure these children are remembered not for how they died but for the content of the energy of their personalities, their laughter, their joy, and the content of their innocent little characters."

Josh Powell's father, Steven Powell, was not expected to attend the funeral. Powell is currently in the Pierce County Jail on charges of child pornography and voyeurism. The sheriff's office said Powell had not made any special requests to attend the funeral, nor would they honor such a request unless they received a court order.

Originally, protesters from the controversial Westboro Church said they wold protest the funeral. That was followed by members of Occupy Seattle saying they would protest the protesters. But Friday, Westboro representatives said they would not be attending. Nevertheless, Pierce County Sheriff's Sgt. Ed Troyer said a plan was in place.

"We don't want a confrontation. That's not what tomorrow's about," he said Friday.

Meanwhile, more details of the investigation into Josh Powell's final days continued to emerge Friday.

The return on the search warrant served on Powell's storage shed showed that investigators recovered a pink comforter with a blood stain on it. Troyer said preliminary tests confirm the stain is blood. But detectives don't know if it's human or animal blood.

Troyer said he was told by his detectives that "it wasn't a large amount" of blood.

Josh Powell visited the storage shed the day before the inferno at his house.

The search warrant released Friday said in addition to accelerants being poured throughout the house, accelerant "was apparently used on the bodies." Earlier it was reported that Braden and Charlie also suffered "chop" wounds on the head and neck from a hatchet.

Also recovered from the shed was a white garbage bag filled with toys, another white garbage bag with kids clothes and linens, a green and yellow box filled with blocks, framed pictures and a plastic bin of miscellaneous items, according to the warrant.

Troyer said some of the items recovered appeared to have been some of Susan Cox Powell's personal items, but he could not elaborate on what those items were.

More information about the pornographic images seized from Josh Powell's computer during the investigation to his wife's disappearance was also released Friday. Investigators said it was animation depicting an incestuous encounter.

Steve Downing, the attorney for the Cox family, said he had not seen the animation. But if he had, he would have asked even tighter restrictions be placed on Josh Powell's court-ordered visitation.

"My concern was at the first hearing the complete and total denying that he knew anything about the images on his computers at home," Downing said. "It’s troubling that those existed in light of the overall involvement of this family and the historical nature the extent to which pornography played in Joshua Powell’s life."

Downing said he had actually been authorized to see the images, but was never given the opportunity to do so.

"Someone dropped the ball if I was authorized to view that material and never given the courtesy to tell me about it," he said.

Troyer said efforts to determine the final days and movements of Josh Powell have turned up only a single photo, a surveillance image of Josh Powell withdrawing $6,500 from his bank.

"We can't even confirm which gas station he bought his gas from," Troyer said.

As for Sunday's planned search of a recycling facility in Puyallup, Troyer said investigators received a "very vague tip he might have been there and dropped some things off. There's a possibility we might not find anything."

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