The social worker at the scene reveals the final minutes before Josh attacked his sons with a hatchet and blew them up in a fiery explosion and says he is ‘really, really evil.”
Social Worker Elizabeth Griffin-Hall describes the final moments of Charles, 7, and Braden, 5, Powell’s lives in a revealing new interview with ABC’s 20/20. She says as the boys ran up to the house, Josh Powell announced that he had a “big surprise” for them. “He caught my eye, his shoulders were slumped,” she says. “He had a sheepish look. He just shrugged his shoulders and slammed the door.”
Elizabeth has been taking the boys on supervised visits to Josh’s house for three months, and she says the kids loved being with their dad.
“One of them said what he wanted to do was go home and live with his daddy,” she explains. “I would see them light up [during visits].”
That fateful day of the explosion, the boys took off running for the house and Josh locked the door before Elizabeth could enter.
“I heard him say, ‘Charlie, I’ve got a big surprise for you’… And then I heard Braden cry out,” she reveals. “I’m saying, ‘Let me in, Josh, let me in.’ I realized I didn’t have my phone in my hand and I could smell gas. Too much time had passed, and I could smell gas.”
She says when she heard Braden cry, she at first thought he had banged his sore foot into something. Police later discovered Josh had used a hatchet to chop at his sons.
When Elizabeth reached her car, she called 911 and then her supervisor. But by then it was too late.
“I said to [her boss] Lyn, something terrible is happening here, and I was on the phone with Lyn when the house exploded,” she reveals. “I wanted to get to the kids. I wanted to get to the kids. I would have broken in if I could.”
Elizabeth blames Josh entirely for the incident, but she never thought he would hurt his sons. Now she thinks he would have done anything to kill them, no matter where the supervised visit took place.
“How this happened is that Josh Powell was really, really evil,” the grief-stricken social worker says. “I couldn’t have stopped him. I did everything I was supposed to do. I did everything right, and the boys are still dead. It took just a second. When I close my eyes I see him and he was so normal. He did not look like a monster.”
Elizabeth regrets most that the sweet boys will never get a chance to smile or play again. “They are not going to grow up,” she says. “They’re not ever going to look at bugs and frogs again.”
She says the incident isn’t going to keep her from working with children, and the memories of Braden and Charlie will stay with her forever.
“The world lost two beautiful boys to a monster,” she says.
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