Judge sets trial date over the deaths of Susan Cox Powell’s children

SEATTLE — A judge in Washington state has scheduled a trial date in a civil lawsuit over the deaths of Susan Cox Powell’s children.

Court records obtained by FOX 13 show the judge scheduled a trial beginning in February 2020 in Judy and Chuck Cox’s lawsuit against Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services. The parents of Susan Cox Powell allege negligence by the agency that contributed to the deaths of Charlie and Braden Powell in 2012.

Susan Cox Powell vanished in 2009 from her home in West Valley City and has never been found. Her husband, Josh, was considered a suspect by police and relocated to Washington state with Charlie and Braden shortly after Susan’s disappearance. During a search of the home he lived in, police discovered evidence of voyeurism by Josh’s father, Steven Powell (who was later convicted, served prison time and ultimately died last year).

That search led to Charlie and Braden being taken into state protective custody.

In February 2012, the boys were dropped off by a child welfare caseworker for a visit with Josh when he grabbed the boys, slammed the door in her face, then took a hatchet to the children and blew up the house. All three were killed.

The Cox family sued a year later, alleging Washington state did not take adequate measures to protect the boys. It was moved to federal court where it was dismissed, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived it (removing individual caseworkers from the lawsuit) and it is now back in a Tacoma court.

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