First, understand that I was not witness to any of the following acts, and that these are my personal thoughts about the chain of events which led up to the loss of two innocent young lives... at the hands of their FATHER! (And, keep in mind that "Monday morning quarterbacks" can always call the correct plays that would have won the game for their team.) I have no special knowledge - my evaluation of this process is based soley upon information reported in the media.
I believe there were errors made from the initial missing person report of Susan Powell's "disappearance" from her home in West Valley, Utah, through the horrific ending in Washington. Most of the errors were systemic, as opposed to individual oversights/mistakes. I believed from the outset that Josh Powell had, at the very least, knowledge of what had happened to his wife. He either covered up her murder, murdered her himself, or did so in concert with his father - a voyeur, collector of 'kiddie porn', and suspected child molester. In my heart of hearts I believed that Josh Powell had personally murdered her and disposed of her body.
The first red flag was his explanation of his whereabouts the night of Susan Powell's disappearance. His story was so lame, it would have had greater credibility had he claimed she was "beamed up" by aliens! He claimed he had elected to take their sons, ages 2 and 4 at the time, camping... at midnight... in the dead of a Utah winter... during a heavy snowstorm, in sub-freezing temperatures. Would that story have had the slightest ring of truthfulness to anybody with a functioning adult mind? Of course not! But, the police must have solid evidence before they can act to arrest anyone, whereas I already had Josh Powell tried, convicted and executed (in the 'court' of my mind) from day one.
The next red flag was when it was suggested that perhaps his wife ran away... leaving her purse, cellphone and other personal effects behind. What woman would do that? (Unless... she was intentionally trying to implicate somebody in her disappearance.) But again, the police must have acceptable evidence that a crime had been committed before they can arrest anyone.
There was at least one report that the carpet in the Powell home was "still damp" at some point during the investigation. However, I heard no reports on if samples had been taken from the carpet and processed. (I have to believe that - if that report was accurate - officials [u]did[/u] take samples as evidence, and that the results were "inconclusive" at best.)
First error (in my opinion): Josh Powell was a "person of interest" in the disappearance of his wife, Susan. The question in my mind is why his status in the investigation was never upgraded from that of "person of interest" to "suspect", and why, even as a "person of interest", he was permitted to leave Utah and take up residence over 1,000 miles away?
Now to the most recent event - his murder of his two sons, and the ensuing conflagration of the home in which he was living...
Second error: The children were delivered to him at his domicile for a "supervised visit". Why was he not required to perform this "supervised visit" at the local DSHS office, under the supervision of a Child Protective Service officer? Or, at the very least, in a public place with the same supervisor? They knew they were dealing with an individual who had no real alibi for his involvement in a missing person case, and who may have been involved in that "disappearance". There was a cloak of suspicion of evil surrounding Powell - trusting him was a big mistake.
There are those who believe the social worker had some responsibility for the fate of the children. I am not one of those people. She did her job. Her only "mistake" (if one can call it that) was in allowing the children to approach and enter the house ahead of her, which gave Powell the opportunity to exclude her from entering. Do I believe the outcome would have been any diffferent had she been allowed to enter the house? Of course not! Powell had murdered before, and planned to murder his own young sons! Why would he not take the life of someone for whom he had no feelings at all? The only change in outcome would have been in the body count - +1.
According to media reports, Powell opened the door, grabbed the boys, pulled them into the house, and then closed and locked the door. The social worker than called her supervisor asking for guidance, because she had no prior experience of that kind. Personally, I believe she should have called the police first because Powell had violated the court-permitted "supervised visit". But, once again, I don't believe the outcome would have been any different had she taken a police officer with her on the visit. How much time would it take him to close and lock a door, then strike his children with an axe, and light a match? Less than a minute, I'm sure. How much time does it take for that action to fully register with the people on the other side of the door? 5-15 seconds? Then there is the procedural time wasted notifying headquarters of the act (unless the officer considered it an "exigent circumstance"). That's at least another 10-15 seconds. Then there is the banging on the door, establishing the authority and issuing commands - "This is the police! You are in violation of a court order - OPEN THIS DOOR!" More time wasted. By now the children have both been struck several times with an axe, and are probably lying on the floor unconscious, as their father lights the match that causes causes the house first to explode, and then immediately become an inferno. The lives of two innocent children were taken that day. Children whose only mistake was to (according to reports) "adore" their father... a man who was the embodiment of evil! According to reports, approximately 10 minutes elapsed between the time the children were taken by Powell, and the explosion. Apparently he felt that he had time to execute his plan - and his children - before anything could be done to stop him.
There are other suggested (ex post facto) alternate scenarios for the visit. The DSHS offices or a public place? Powell acquires a gun, takes it with him, and kills the boys and himself. Deny him visitation rights? Powell finds the boys, kidnaps them, and kills them. There was no possible "happy ending" for this story based upon what information we have at this time. The police were apparently unable to find sufficient evidence - required by the state prosecutor's office - to support the issuance of an arrest warrant. Was any evidence overlooked, or classified as irrelevant or insignificant? We don't know. What we do know is that the laws and the judicial system failed to properly protect Charles and Braden Powell, whose short lives were ended on February 5, 2012, in a final act of selfishness by their father. His final claim was that he "couldn't live without my boys", totally ignoring the fact that they could have lived without him.
My hope is that there is a special chamber in hell for Josh Powell, and those like him, where he will suffer for all time and eternity. God bless the little children, and care for their precious souls.