Susan Powell's son drew picture of his mother in trunk of car
A son of missing Utah mother Susan Powell drew a picture for a school assignment that depicted his mother in the trunk of the family vehicle, a lawyer for Powell's family said Monday.
The comments come a day after Powell's two sons died in an explosive house fire in Washington state believed to have been set by their father, Josh Powell, who was also killed in the blaze.
"Charlie drew a picture at school. You were supposed to draw a picture of something you had done during the summer. And he drew a picture of the family's vehicle, with Dad driving the car, he and Braden in the back seat, and Mom was in the trunk," Tacoma, Wash., attorney Steve Downing told the Los Angeles Times.
A member of the Cox family later told The Times that it was actually Powell’s younger son, Braden, who drew the picture, but confirmed the other details.
Expanding on statements he made Sunday about the children's increasing recollections, Downing said Charlie, 7, and his brother Braden, 5, were starting to talk more about the disappearance of their mother in December 2009.
Their father, who had been a person of interest in the investigation, had said he was not involved in his wife's disappearance and did not know what happened to her after he took the boys out for an impromptu, middle-of-the-night camping trip in the Utah desert during a snowstorm.
The blaze swept through Josh Powell's house in Graham, Wash., only moments after a social worker dropped the boys off for a court-ordered visit. Authorities have said they believe Powell doused the house with an accelerant and then torched it.
Downing said the boys had only recently begun talking about their mother's disappearance as they gained confidence living with Susan Powell's parents, Charles and Judith Cox of Puyallup, Wash., who took custody in September.
"I think as the children were transitioned to the Cox home, they began to feel more comfortable. They began to feel safe. And I do think they opened up and began to share information that perhaps they had not been comfortable talking about before," Downing said in an interview.
"This was not information that was encouraged or coached by the Coxes. It was spontaneous statements," he said. "As they were with the Coxes, they were again able to meet cousins and friends from Utah, people they hadn't seen for awhile. They began to remember things. And they did begin to talk about their mother. And certain things that they remembered."
He said Charlie hasn't been able to pinpoint a date for the car trip--he was only 4 when his mother disappeared. But he said his parents got out of the vehicle. "And she got lost."
In an interview with Seattle's KIRO TV, Charles Cox said there had been "warning signs" about his son-in-law, but the couple was attempting to comply with court orders to allow Powell to visit his sons.
"There were too many warning signs that I feel were known, but due to legal limitations, were unable to be acted upon. So we ended up where we ended up," Cox said.
Just before leaving for Sunday's fatal visit, he said, the boys were playing happily at the Cox home and at first didn't want to go.
"They were having a good time. They didn't want to stop and go see Daddy today. They seemed to be losing interest in going to see him. They liked it here," he said. But his wife, Judith, he said, talked them into it.
It was an act of encouragement she said now she deeply regrets. "Because look what happened."
[This post has been updated to reflect the Cox family’s recollection that it was Susan and Josh Powell’s younger son who drew a picture of his mother in the trunk of the family car. Their lawyer had said it was the older son.]
-- Kim Murphy in Seattle
Photo: Susan Cox Powell. Credit: Hardman Photography