By Katherine Luck
SEATTLE (Reuters) - A Tacoma anti-crime group on Wednesday purchased a pair of burial plots next to the gravesite of two young boys who were killed when their father burned their house to the ground, effectively blocking him from being buried next to them.
The murder-suicide that claimed the lives of Josh Powell and his sons, Charles, 7, and Braden, 5, earlier this month capped a grim family saga that began over two years ago with the disappearance of the boys' mother, Susan, under suspicious circumstances in Utah.
Powell's family had in recent days taken steps to purchase a plot located next to the boys' gravesite in Woodbine Cemetery in Puyallup, Washington, prompting their maternal grandparents, Charles and Judy Cox, to initiate legal action to block the sale, their attorney Anne Bremner said.
Bremner said Crime Stoppers of Tacoma-Pierce County, which assists local law enforcement agencies in solving crimes and locating fugitives, had stepped in on Wednesday to buy the two plots.
Bremner said she had been told of the purchase by Detective Ed Troyer, public information officer for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department who is also executive director of the nonprofit organization.
"He just wanted to make sure that Josh Powell was nowhere near them," Bremner said. "Clearly enough was enough."
Troyer and Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor announced the purchase of the plots during an interview on Seattle radio station KIRO FM, saying that no public money was being used.
Pastor told the radio station that one of the plots will be reserved for the boys' mother, Susan Powell, who went missing in 2009.
Puyallup City Manager Ralph Dannenberg said the move came amid outcry in the community over the proximity of the burial sites.
"I can't tell you the number of emails I've gotten about this," Dannenberg said.
Dannenberg reported that the sale of the adjacent burial plot to Powell's family had already been suspended through Friday pending the filing of a temporary restraining order by the Cox family.
But Bremner said the purchase of the burial plots would end the need for further legal action by the Cox family.
"They need to rest in peace," Bremner said of the two boys.
Charles and Braden Powell had been at the center of a bitter custody fight between Powell and his wife's parents when they died after their father set off a fiery explosion that consumed his house as a social worker, locked outside, watched in horror.
Medical examiners later said the two brothers, killed during what was to have been a supervised visit with Powell, had suffered chop wounds from hatchet blows inflicted by their father moments before all three died of smoke inhalation.
They were laid to rest in a single closed, light blue casket following a memorial service attended by more than 1,000 mourners.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Tim Gaynor)