Josh Powell's family members want him buried in a Washington state cemetery just a few strides from his two sons, the same boys that he chopped with an ax before killing them and himself in a fiery explosion more than a week ago.
But an attorney for the boys' maternal grandparents says she will stop at nothing to ensure that the plan isn't carried out.
"For him to be buried near those kids is just unthinkable," Seattle attorney Anne Bremner told the Associated Press. She represents the boys' maternal grandparents, Charles and Judy Cox. Adding to the outrage, of course, is that the Coxes' daughter, Susan Powell, disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 2009, with Josh Powell being the chief person of interest.
"For God's sake, for them to lose Susan first, and then the boys, and now this? Just give these people a break," Bremner told the news service.
Powell's relatives selected a plot at Woodbine Cemetery that's about 25 feet from the plot where Charles, 7, and Braden, 5, were laid to rest Saturday. Their funeral was attended by more than 1,000 people.
Puyallup City Manager Ralph Dannenberg told The Times on Wednesday that the sale is now on hold while Bremner follows through on her plans to seek a restraining order.
The city doesn't have any guidelines for proceeding in such a thorny situation, Dannenberg said.
"We are a municipal cemetery, we don't have anything in our codes or procedures about denying anyone" a plot to purchase, he said. "But with legal action pending, it's in the best interest of both parties to hold off."
The cemetery fight is the latest twist in a case that began in 2009, when Susan Powell vanished in the middle of the night while the family was still living in Utah. At the time, Josh Powell told the authorities that he decided to take the boys on a last-minute camping trip even though it was the middle of winter. When he returned, he said, his wife was gone.
Powell's family members have contended that Josh Powell is the victim in this saga, wrongly accused of killing his wife and then subjected to a witch hunt by law enforcement.
As for the boys, they'd been at the center of a custody battle between Josh Powell and the Coxes -- complete with allegations that Powell was an unstable figure in their lives and newly discovered evidence that he possessed incestuous pornography. Days before Powell killed himself and his sons, he was told that he couldn't have his children back until he submitted to a psychosexual exam and a polygraph.
Some surmise that the court decision triggered Powell's murder-suicide plan. On Feb. 5, during what was supposed to be a supervised visit, he locked out the social worker accompanying his sons, took an ax to the two boys, then killed them and himself in a gasoline-fueled explosion.
The deaths have triggered an outpouring of support for the Coxes, with people holding "love" signs lining the funeral route on Sunday. The tragedy has also led to outrage aimed at the Powell family, which continues to maintain a low profile.
-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch
Photo: People line the street as the hearse passes bearing Charlie and Braden Powell on Saturday in Tacoma. Credit: Alan Berner / The Seattle Times / Associated Press