TACOMA, WA (KIRO/KOMO/KTVX/KSTU/CNN) – Police have discovered that the Powell boys, who were killed when their father set his Washington home ablaze, also suffered severe injuries from a hatchet to their necks.
Police say this last act by Josh Powell only adds to the suspicion that he killed his wife in 2009.
"A selfish, cowardly act in my mind, the slaughter of two innocent children," said boy's grandfather, Chuck Cox.
Powell and his sons, Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5, died of smoke inhalation Sunday, but the injuries the boys sustained from the hatchet contributed to their deaths as well.
The medical examiner's office said both boys had neck injuries before dying of carbon monoxide poisoning when the home was doused with gasoline and set ablaze.
"He had taken boxes of toys and books and donated them to the Goodwill sometime over the weekend so this is definitely a deliberate, planned out event," said Pierce County, WA Sheriff's department, Ed Troyer.
The boy's mother, Susan Cox-Powell, disappeared in 2009. Her husband was a prime suspect. Last week, a judge ruled that the boys should remain with Susan's parents. Cox-Powell's sister believes that decision and a recent change in the boys attitude may have pushed Powell over the edge.
"How they were being close to us and shutting down on him and the way they were opening up to my family," said Denise Cox. "He was losing control; he had to get it back somehow."
Police said Powell sent emails to his pastor and others close to him just minutes before the fire, telling them what to do after he died.
Police investigating Cox-Powell's disappearance believe she is dead, but vow to continue pursuing the case. Her family says the boys were starting to say things like, "Mommy is in the mine," before their death.
According to investigators, Powell had said the last time he saw his wife was the night he and his sons left to go camping.