Josh Powell had hundreds of images of disturbing cartoon sex and graphic depictions of incest on his home computer, something Utah authorities investigating his wife's disappearance kept private for about two years, according to files released Friday.
A Washington state psychologist who had previously said Powell's strong parenting skills should allow him to continue supervised visits altered her assessment after reviewing the images, calling them a "great concern" and suggesting a more intense evaluation of the father. That conclusion came just six days before he killed himself and two sons in an explosive house fire two weeks ago.
Many of the approximately 400 images in the state social services files included sexual depictions of popular cartoons, including child-focused characters such as Rugrats, Dennis the Menace and SpongeBob SquarePants. Another 15 images showed 3-D depictions of sex involving parents and their children.
Powell had initially told the psychologist that he visited only pornography sites featuring adults.
"Given the gaps of information about Mr. Powell there seems reason to conclude he may not presently be a stable and appropriate resource for his children," wrote Dr. James Manley in a follow-up report.
In other documents released under Washington public records laws, social workers detailed how they were concerned that Josh Powell would speak disparagingly of his in-laws, Chuck and Judy Cox, in front of his children. The documents also state that Charlie Powell was beginning to remember about his mother, and that he said "he remembers she left because grandpa was mean to her." Caseworkers believed that Charlie was repeating what his father had been saying.
In interviews with mental health professionals, Powell said he feared a "militant faction" of the Mormon church might kidnap his two sons. Braden and Charlie were overheard saying that "Mormons" were "trying to steal" them and "harm" them. DSHS notes that that given the children's ages, these opinions were probably not their own.
Charlie once told school personnel how to bury an animal so it wouldn't be discovered. Personnel only noted this because of their mother's disappearance.
Powell was a suspect in Susan Powell's 2009 disappearance from their home in West Valley City, Utah. He had always claimed that he didn't know what happened to his wife. He took the boys — then 2 and 4 — on a midnight camping trip in freezing weather in the Utah desert, he said, and when he returned home the next day authorities were at the house looking for her.
Weeks later, he moved the boys to the home of his father, Steve Powell, in Puyallup. After Steve Powell's arrest on voyeurism and child pornography charges last fall, the boys were removed from the house and turned over to Susan Powell's parents.
A social worker brought them to Josh Powell's rental home for what was supposed to be a court-sanctioned supervised visit. Josh Powell let the boys inside, locked the social worker out, hit them with a hatchet and set fire to gasoline, authorities said.