OLYMPIA, Wash. - After their grandchildren were killed by their father, Josh Powell, the parents of missing woman Susan Cox Powell are pushing for changes in how Washington state law handles custody cases.
On Friday, the Legislature held hearings for bill 5162, the Charlie-Braden Act, which would restrict or block visitation rights for someone who is the subject of a murder investigation.
The victims’ grandparents, Chuck and Judy Cox, said they believe the legislation could have changed the course of an investigation that ultimately led to Josh Powell killing himself and his two boys, 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden Powell.
“Without this law, a surviving spouse is essentially able to achieve custody by murder,” said Chuck Cox.
Friday is the 1-year anniversary of the day a judge ordered Josh Powell to undergo a psychosexual evaluation, but at the same time gave him visitation rights with his two sons, who were living with the Coxes.
A few days later, Josh Powell killed the boys when they arrived at his home for a supervised visit.
“It’s really hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since they were gone, and we were so sure a year ago that they were safe, and we could protect them,” said Chuck Cox.
Authorities in Utah had long been examining Powell in the 2009 disappearance of his wife.
The Coxes said they warned police, the court and social services that Josh Powell was dangerous.
Utah investigators never publicly declared Powell a suspect but treated him as one privately. The proposed law would allow people involved in custody cases to demand information from law enforcement that might be relevant to decisions on visitation matters.
“If this law had been enforced, it may have very well prevented the deaths of Charlie and Braden,” said Chuck Cox.
“We just don’t want this to happen again,” said Judy Cox.
Five more bills were inspired by the murders of Charlie and Braden Powell. One of them would give grandparents more rights.