Josh Powell 911 operator calls own handling of emergency ‘clumsy’

GlobalPost

The 911 operator who took a call from a social worker outside Josh Powell's house the day he killed his two sons in a murder-suicide has described his handling of the call as "clumsy."

In an interview with NBC, David Lovrak said he didn’t recognize "the lethal quality" of the call, which came in just before Josh Powell killed his sons and himself in an explosive house fire Sunday.

"Especially for somebody who has done this for as long as I have, to relisten to the call and hear how clumsy and faltering I sounded," Lovrak said. "It was horrible. This has been a nightmare."

Separately, the Associated Press has reported that in the lead up to a bid by Powell to win back custody of his sons from in-laws, Washington state authorities received materials discovered on a computer in Powell's home two years ago depicting "incestuous" sex.

Although the images were disturbing enough to prompt a psychologist to recommend that Powell undergo an intensive psychosexual evaluation, they were not provided to lawyers for Powell's in-laws before the custody hearing.

Attorney Steve Downing said that had he seen the images, he might have asked the court to change the terms of Powell's supervised visitation with the boys, such as by asking for the visits to be in a public place.

Instead, the AP reported: "Downing said he didn't learn until Thursday morning — four days after Powell killed himself and the boys in a house fire — that he was allowed to see them."

Meanwhile, Lovrak, who has been criticized for subjecting social worker Elizabeth Griffin-Hall to several minutes of questioning when she called him to report her concerns for the boys' safety, told the "Dateline" program that he didn't recognize the kind of man they were dealing with.

"Realizing what we all know now, I wish I had recognized the urgency of the situation," he said, adding: "But, you know it’s so difficult to second-guess."

Logs show that it took eight minutes for the 911 dispatcher to send a police car and another 13 minutes for the police car to get to the scene, by which time the Powell house was engulfed in flames, Fox News reported.

(GlobalPost reports: Authorities investigate 911 response to Josh Powell's home before explosion)

Lovrak didn’t say why it took 22 minutes to get a deputy to the scene, only that no one could have predicted what happened.

Griffin-Hall, who had been taking the Powell boys, Charles, 7, and Braden, 5, on visits for three months, described Powell's demeanor on the day: "He caught my eye, his shoulders were slumped. He had a sheepish look. He just shrugged his shoulders and slammed the door."

Griffin-Hall said Powell told his sons he had a "big surprise" for them as they ran to his home, shortly before he assaulted them with a hatchet and then set fire to the home.

Lovrak told "Dateline" that he’d heard of Josh Powell in connection with the disappearance of Susan Powell, but didn’t make the connection with the 911 call.

"I was aware of Josh Powell’s story," he said. "But I didn’t associate his name with the story, much like I wouldn’t be able to tell you the name of the 18-year-old who was just convicted of the killing, that 9-year-old, [in Missouri] but I know the story. And so, his name was not resonating with me."

Pierce County authorities, meantime, have said that they consider the murder-suicide an admission that Powell killed his wife, Susan Powell, who disappeared in Utah in 2009.

Powell was the only person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, although he was never arrested or charged in the case, and a month after she vanished, he moved with his boys back to his father Steve's home in Puyallup, Wash., south of Seattle.

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