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Attorneys question former caseworker about unsettling comments made by Powell children prior to 2012 murders

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TACOMA -- Arguments continued Wednesday in the civil case filed by the family of  missing woman Susan Cox-Powell against the State Department of Social and Health Services. The lawsuit was filed by her parents after Susan's children, their grandsons, were murdered by their father Josh Powell. At the time he was the prime suspect in his wife's disappearance.

He killed his boys during a court-ordered supervised visitation at his Pierce County home in 2012. At the time, a judge was still in the process of determining a permanent living situation for the boys. Susan's parents had temporary custody, and Josh Powell was allowed supervised visits with DSHS employees.

But on that horrific day, Josh Powell got his two boys inside before locking the caseworker out. Then he killed them and himself.

Attorneys representing Susan Cox-Powell's family claim the state could have prevented the deaths of the children.

Today the former social worker assigned to Braden and Charlie Powell's case took the stand. Forest Jacobson was pressed about DSHS' decision to allow Josh Powell to have visitation at his home, instead of a secured facility. This is a significant aspect of the case, because while it was a judge who ultimately granted Josh Powell visitations, attorneys for the Cox family say it was DSHS who allowed Josh to get the boys inside his home, where he murdered them.

The Cox family's attorney also question Jacobson on information she did not disclose to the judge who was presiding over the children's custody,  referencing a troubling comment Susan's young son made about his missing mother:

Attorney Evan Bariault: "They were both sitting with Braden when he drew the pics of his vacation. They were stick figures in a mini van. When asked who they were he said it was him, his brother, mommy and daddy. He stated mommy was in the trunk. He also stated mommy never came back. And you Shared this information with law enforcement? "

Jacobson: "Yes."

Bariault: "Did you ever share that with the court?"

Jacobson: "No."

Jacobson explained if she had given that information to the court determining Braden and Charlie's custody, Josh Powell would have been able to obtain it. And that could have drastically harmed the criminal investigation into Susan Cox-Powell's disappearance, Jacobson said.

She further explained that this was what made the case so difficult: they had to protect the children but also wanted to protect the criminal investigation.

Under cross-examination, the state's attorney pointed out that Jacobson did in fact inform the court of some comments the children made about their mother. Jacobson read from reports that noted one of the boys said "he didn't think his mom would be home for Christmas."

Testimony is scheduled to resume Thursday with Susan Cox-Powell's father taking the stand.

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