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Powell social worker speaks out about deaths

February 9, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
When Elizabeth Griffin-Hall took Braden and Charlie Powell to see their father, Josh Powell, last Sunday, the boys were excited to go as usual.

Until that day, she had only ever witnessed a man who loved his sons. But then Powell opened his front door and everything changed.

"I saw Josh for just one second, his eyes caught mine and he had a look in his eyes. It was just kind of sheepish, and he just shrugged his shoulders up at me like that, and then he slammed the door," said Griffin-Hall. "I thought that was an accident, that he didn't mean to lock me out. And so I knocked and I knocked and I rang the doorbell and I started yelling at him, 'Josh let me in.'"

Then she smelled gas and rushed to call 911. She warned the emergency operator that the situation could be life threatening.

"I'm getting, 'Who's you're supervisor, who are you, where are you, I'm not getting an emergency response,'" she said.

Nearly 22 minutes passed from the time the frantic call was made until a deputy finally arrived at Powell's house.

Griffin-Hall said she is heartbroken. After several weekly visits with the boys, she had grown to love them.

"I was like a grandmother to the boys, like a piece of furniture to the boys, they crawled all over me," she said laughing.

And now she is struggling to understand.

"What I tell myself is how it happened is because Josh Powell was really really evil, and there was no way to stop him," Griffin-Hall said.

For all the pain and loss, Griffin-Hall said won't let Powell rob her of her memories of the boys or her passion to help others like them. Meanwhile, a memorial service for the two young boys will be held Saturday in Tacoma, Wash.