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Hundreds come to service for 2 boys burned to death by father

Charles and Braden Powell's grandparents and former teachers remember them as bright and curious children during a memorial in Tacoma, Wash.

February 11, 2012|TIMES STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
  • Charles Cox and his wife, Judith, approach the casket containing the remains of their grandsons, Charles and Braden Powell, at a service in Tacoma, Wash.
Charles Cox and his wife, Judith, approach the casket containing the remains… (Ted S. Warren, Associated…)

At a memorial service Saturday attended by more than 1,000 people, Charles and Braden Powell, the two young brothers killed last week by their father, were remembered as "clever" and "curious" boys.

The boys' grandfather, Charles Cox, thanked people for their prayers, saying, "It helps us to know that there are good people in the world."

The service at the Life Center church in Tacoma, Wash., drew people from as far away as Utah, where the boys previously lived. A children's choir sang "Amazing Grace." The boys' remains were in a single coffin adorned with flowers.

Charles, 7, and Braden, 5, died in a gasoline-fueled fire set by their father, Josh Powell, when they visited him last Sunday at his home in Graham, Wash. Police say Powell was a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, Susan Powell, in December 2009.

Many of the boys' teachers shared memories during the service.

Charles' kindergarten teacher remembered him as "an amazing young man. He had an appreciation of nature I had never seen in someone so young."

Others recalled how Charles was fascinated with science and insects, often trying to sneak worms or caterpillars into the classroom.

"He is safe in his mother's arms," said Tammy Ougheon, who was Charles' kindergarten teacher in Utah.

Braden was also remembered fondly by his teachers, who said he enjoyed playing with cars and trains.

"His little spirit lives on in the hearts of all who knew him," said Kristie King, an instructor at a YMCA that Braden attended.

The family will have a private interment Monday.

In an interview on NBC's "Dateline" on Friday, a 911 dispatcher acknowledged that he had been "clumsy" and did not grasp the severity of the situation when a social worker called to say Josh Powell had locked her out of his home last Sunday for what should have been a supervised visit with the boys.

Though authorities have said police were dispatched early in the nearly seven-minute phone call, the dispatcher has been the subject of public outcry because he seemed to fail to immediately understand the danger the boys were in.

"Dateline" interviewer Keith Morrison asked the man how he reacted when he later learned that Powell blew up the home with the boys inside.

"It was horrible ... especially for someone who has done this as long as I have and to re-listen to the call and to hear how clumsy and faltering I sounded, and laboring with what turned out to be a horrible situation but that I didn't recognize as such," he said.

The Associated Press and Times staff writer Ricardo Lopez in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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