6 days after death, Powell brothers remembered as smart, loving boys

Thousands mourn Powell boys at memorial
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Story highlights

  • A memorial service is held in Tacoma for Braden and Charlie Powell
  • The boys' father struck the boys with a hatchet and blew up his home, police say
  • "We know that they are with their mother," their grandfather says
  • The mother, Susan Cox-Powell, was last seen in December 2009
The story of their deaths -- hacked with hatchets, doused in gasoline before the home they were in exploded, according to police -- has been well documented.
Six days later, hundreds packed a Tacoma, Washington, church to remember the lives of young Braden and Charlie Powell, describing them as intelligent, compassionate, joyful boys who made big impressions in a short time.
"This moment is about two beautiful boys," Dean Curry, lead pastor at the Life Center church, said to open Saturday's memorial service.
Authorities say the boys' father, Josh Powell, snatched them from a social worker who was delivering them for a supervised visit Sunday, locking the doors before killing them, as well as himself, just minutes before his Puyallup, Washington, home exploded.
The children's mother, Susan Cox-Powell, hasn't been seen since December 2009. Law enforcement authorities in West Valley City, Utah, had identified only one person, Josh Powell, as someone they were investigating in relation to her disappearance.
Members of both the Powell and Cox families attended Saturday's service.
Powell brothers remembered at memorial
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Powell brothers remembered at memorial 03:04
"Mark this moment. These two families, who have had so much pain, have come together, have set aside very dark and hurtful moments to celebrate children," Curry said. "May each and every one of us remember their example."
The memorial featured snapshots of the boys, as well as tributes from their teachers.
Tammy Oughton recalled Charlie Powell, a former student in her kindergarten class who turned 7 last month, as an "amazing young man" who displayed a "keen intellect and a compassionate heart."
Within Carson Elementary School in Puyallup, "Charlie was known as the little scientist" -- due to his love of nature and vast knowledge, Oughton said. She also noted how much the first-grader loved to write, as well as how "classmates liked the silly little things that he did to make them laugh."
"We will miss him, but he will not be forgotten," she said.
Charlie's younger brother, Braden, who also celebrated a birthday in January, turning 5, was remembered as a "budding puzzlemaster," "tickle monster" and loving boy in remarks from one of his pre-kindergarten instructors, Kristy King.
At the YMCA program he attended, Braden was known for the "huge smile on his angelic face," as well as his "contagious, joyful energy." King described him as affectionate, always quick to hold a teacher's hand and reluctant to let go.
"Braden had an enthusiasm for life and took pleasure in everything," she said. "He had a heart of gold."
The boys' grandparents Charles and Judith Cox, who were engaged in a long and bitter child custody battle with Josh Powell, took the stage briefly.
Charles Cox said that the support they've received since their daughter went missing "helps us to be strong, and helps to know that there are good people."
He also expressed thanks for the support his grandsons had received, saying, "All their teachers, their social workers, the police: Everyone was doing everything they possibly could to keep them safe, and to help them and love them."
While Susan Cox-Powell has not been found, her father suggested that he believes she is dead -- and that she is now reunited with her sons in heaven.
"We know that they are with their mother," he said.