TACOMA — The family of missing Utah woman Susan Powell thanked police, social workers, teachers and everyone who cared about her two sons at a funeral today for the boys who were killed by their father in a gas-fueled blaze.
The boys’ grandfather Chuck Cox also thanked people of all faiths who had prayed for 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden after they died.
It “helps us to know that there are good people in the world — good people who fight against evil,” Cox said.
The boys’ father, Josh Powell, was in the middle of a custody battle with Cox when he torched his rental home in Graham last Sunday, killing himself and the two boys.
Powell was a person of interest in his wife’s disappearance in Utah two years ago, and prosecutors consider the fire an admission that he killed his wife.
Cox gained custody of the children more than five months ago after police arrested Josh Powell’s father, Steve, on voyeurism and child pornography charges.
The kids were arriving for a supervised visit when Josh Powell blocked a social worker from entering the home. He then attacked the boys with a hatchet and torched the house, authorities said.
More than 1,000 people attended Saturday’s public funeral at Life Center Church in Tacoma, Wash. Many of those attending wore purple and blue ribbons in memory of Charlie and Braden.
At the service, two teachers shared their memories and read letters from other instructors who had interacted with the boys.
Charlie was remembered as a kid fascinated with science and insects, often trying to sneak worms or caterpillars into the classroom. He was about to get glasses and loved to write, dreaming up plans to market his books.
“He is safe in his mother’s arms,” said Tammy Ougheon, Charlie’s kindergarten teacher in Utah.
His younger brother, Braden, preferred cars and trains, teachers remembered, and last Halloween got to dress up as a Transformer. Braden, teachers said, loved to be tickled.
“His little spirit lives on in the hearts of all who knew him,” said Kristie King, an instructor at a YMCA that Braden attended.
People started lining up outside the church more than an hour before the service was set to begin.
Tony Deponte, 39, said that he was in “total shock” when he heard of the boys’ deaths.
“The first thing I did was stop and pray for these children,” said Deponte, of Tacoma. “The whole community is feeling their loss.”
At the front of the church’s sanctuary, the boys were in a single casket topped with a large flower arrangement that included daisies, roses and sunflowers. Three screens in the sanctuary showed a photo of Susan Powell and the two boys, all smiling.
Amanda Morse, of Seattle, was standing outside the church, holding her 5-month son, Ronan. She said she wanted the family to know that they weren’t alone.
“It was a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened,” she said.
A private family interment will take place Monday at Woodbine Cemetery in Puyallup.