The news that Josh Powell had torched his own home in Washington state with himself and his own two children staying inside, despite the efforts of a social worker to at least get the father to let his sons go as they were taken there to visit him, hit me like a ton of bricks as the Super Bowl was being played Sunday.

The Powell family

It probably hit harder because Josh Powell lived with his wife, Susan, and the two boys just blocks west of my own home in Utah when, two winters ago, Susan was reported missing while Josh said he and their sons left to go camping … in their vehicle … in the middle of the night … in the coldest winter temperatures.

That was Josh Powell’s alibi as he protected himself from the onslaught of West Valley City authorities who suddenly came calling on him and asking him all kinds of questions, and people in the area immediately started shaking their heads in utter disbelief at his story.

Camping with two little boys in the middle of the night in the middle of winter.  It just sounded too odd.

But that was Josh Powell.  And as his boys started talking more to Susan’s parents about what really happened that night, Josh apparently decided that — with the maternal grandparents having legal custody — he didn’t want anyone to have his sons but him.  So he grabbed the boys from the social worker, blocked her from entering the home, and torched the place — with all of them inside.

It doesn’t get much more evil than that.

And the story originated just blocks from my own home in 2009.  That’s why it took my breath away and sickened me to see the breaking news flash crawl along the bottom of the screen while a football game was played on TV.

As more news emerged of things that went on with the Powell family, and as the search for Susan Powell turned up little more than ashes buried in a desert floor that caught the attention of cadaver-sniffing dogs, troubling details began to emerge.  Towards the bitter end of the boys’ life, there was word that Josh would undergo a psychosexual examination.

It was becoming evident that Josh Powell had some inner demons much greater than anyone clearly understood.  Addictions are crazy that way, but not so crazy that they can’t be helped if those who are addicted are willing to admit their problem and seek it out.

Josh Powell never got to that point, at least not until he had prepared to take his own life, and the lives of his two little boys along with him.

It doesn’t get any sadder than that.  And they lived just blocks away.  Much too close to home.

Rest in peace, boys.

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