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Unspeakably tragic: Josh Powell, Susan Cox Powell

For more than two years, people in Utah and Washington have followed the saga of Susan Powell's disappearance, hoping for some good news. It never came.

Now we have seen the most horrific and unspeakably tragic of all possible endings to the story, and people in Utah and elsewhere are heartbroken.

Josh Powell, Susan's husband, apparently murdered his two little boys and committed suicide in a house fire and explosion Sunday afternoon in Graham, Wash. An email Powell sent to his attorney at the time of the tragedy made it clear he deliberately caused the explosion.

The public can do little now other than reach out with sympathy and love to the survivors, especially the Cox family, Susan's parents, who had custody of the two boys, ages 5 and 7. The Coxes had given the boys to a social worker for a court-approved supervised visit with their father on Sunday. Powell reportedly took the boys inside the house and barred the social worker from entering. The worker smelled gas before the house exploded.

This is a tragedy that touches many lives and resonates far and wide. The deaths were senseless. They raise many more questions than they answer. Powell had claimed his innocence in Susan's disappearance, despite strange circumstances and his own odd behavior on the night she disappeared — reportedly taking the boys on a sudden camping trip in the middle of a cold winter night.

Police now say they were building a case against Powell and were hoping to make an arrest later this year. The inability to find Susan added to the difficulty of compiling enough evidence for a conviction.

We urge West Valley City police now to release all information they had gathered in this case. Family members, and the public, need some understanding of the facts in a case that has taxed their prayers and emotions.

Domestic violence doesn't always inject itself into the public light the way this case has. Always, however, there is pain, and often the victims who suffer most are the most vulnerable – innocent children.

This case has had many ugly and disturbing turns. Powell's father was arrested on charges of child porn and voyeurism last fall. A judge recently denied Josh Powell's attempt to regain custody of his children and ordered him to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation. No one will ever know whether this prompted Powell to do what he did.

Words can never express the feelings of sorrow and outrage that are felt far and wide in the wake of this tragedy. The only antidote to this is love and compassion. The Cox family needs this now, as do survivors in the Powell family.