Powell sons had 'chop injury,' autopsy report says
Josh Powell and his two young sons died of carbon monoxide poisoning, the Pierce County medical examiner’s office said Monday night, but the boys apparently were injured before their death.
Powell, a person of interest in his wife Susan's 2009 disappearance from their Utah home, is believed to have set his rented house in Graham, Wash., afire just after his children arrived for what was to have been a supervised visit Sunday afternoon.
He let the boys in but barred the social worker, and as she called authorities to say she'd smelled gas, the home erupted into flames.
But the medical examiner's report seemed to indicate that the children had been subdued before or during the blaze. The younger boy, 5-year-old Braden, had a “chop injury” to his head and neck, and his brother Charles, 7, had a similar injury to the neck, the autopsy report said.
A medical examiner’s spokeswoman refused to elaborate on the injuries or what could have caused them.
But Pierce County Sheriff's Det. Ed Troyer said investigators found a hatchet they believe was used on the boys.
"We found a small hatchet in the same room with the bodies," he told the Los Angeles Times.
Susan Powell, then 28 and a stockbroker, vanished in December 2009. Josh Powell said he'd taken the children into the desert for an impromptu camping trip during a snowstorm and, when he returned, Susan was gone.
[This post has been updated to reflect the comment from Pierce County Sheriff's Det. Ed Troyer.]
-- Kim Murphy in Seattle