Yesterday afternoon the local news stations were buzzing with the horrific breaking news of Josh Powell’s cowardly suicide and murder of his two young children. For those not familiar with this case, which originated in my home state but has received national attention, here’s the Cliff’s Note’s version:
Susan Powell is a Utah mother who "mysteriously" disappeared over 2 years ago. Her husband, Josh, has been the main suspect in the case but there has not been enough evidence to convict him of her suspicious disappearance. Susan and Josh had two young boys- ages 5 and 7- who have been in a nasty custody battle between their father (who conveniently decided to relocate to Washington State after his wife suddenly went missing) and their maternal grandparents in Utah. The boys continued to stay in the custody of their maternal grandparents after explicit images were found on Josh's computer and he was were ordered to undergo a psychosexual evaluation.
Yesterday morning a caseworker took the 2 young boys for a court-ordered supervised visit with their father who locked the caseworker out of the house and blew up his home, killing himself and his sons.
Shortly after hearing the news my sister called me to get my reaction. She also had some questions for me about supervised visits. I shared some of my experiences with her, but told her that ultimately each case will vary by state policy.
Another friend of mine wrote the following as her facebook status:
May no other children come to harm from supervized visits in unsafe locations with dangerous parents. May the death of the Powell boys be a haunting reminder to judges and social workers. It is far better to be overly cautious than to let tender heartedness invite horror and unleash hell on the innocent.
To which I replied:
I absolutely agree with erring on the side of being overly cautious, but in defense of some of the more conscientious and tender-hearted social workers I've worked with sometimes they have no choice in child welfare matters but to follow a judge's orders even when they know it's NOT in the best interest of the child. That is what disturbs me most about this case: Josh's "rights" seemed to take precedence over the best interest, stability, and safety of his innocent children.
From a foster parent’s perspective one of my biggest pet peeves about child welfare and the legal system is when the rights and safety of children is not made a priority, but is put on the back burner until after their bio parents rights are considered. That is why it is SO IMPORTANT for children to have committed caseworkers and guardian ad liteums who advocate for what is truly in their best interest-regardless of the wants, needs, or rights of the bio parents are.
Four other thoughts on the subject:
1) My heart aches for the family of Susan Cox Powell- I can’t even imagine the pain they’ve been through because of their selfish son-in-law.
2) Drugs & alcohol are not the only addictions that can tear families apart- it sound like pornography was a likely factor as well.
3) I feel so bad for the caseworker at the scene.
4) The only silver lining to come from all of this is that the Powell boys can now be with their mother again.