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West Valley City • Some knew Charlie and Braden Powell. Some didn't. But about 40 family members, friends and strangers attended a vigil Tuesday night to share their grief on the first anniversary of Charlie and Braden Powell's deaths.

Mourners held candles underneath the pavilion at West View Park here as they looked at photos of the boys and their missing mother, Susan Powell.

"It's really sad what happened to the family, that the dad could do what he did," said Diane Bellistown, a 50-year-old West Jordan resident. Bellistown said it was the first such candle light vigil she's ever attended. She never knew the boys and met Susan Powell only once at church.

On Feb. 5, 2012, Josh Powell received his sons, 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden, at his rental home in Graham, Wash., for what was supposed to be a supervised visit. But he locked the social services worker out of the house, poured gasoline inside and ignited a blaze.

Somewhere in that sequence, Josh Powell hit his sons with a hatchet. Firefighters found the burned bodies of Charlie, Braden and Josh Powell in the rubble.

Josh Powell was the only person of interest in the disappearance of his wife. Susan Powell was last seen at the family's home in West Valley City on Dec. 6, 2009. She has never been found nor have any criminal charges ever been filed in her death. West Valley City police continue to investigate the case.

Meanwhile, Chuck and Judy Cox, Susan Powell's parents,continue to battle Josh Powell's siblings and mother in Washington federal court over $2.5 million in life insurance policies issued in the name of their daughter, her sons and the boys' father.

West Valley City police have been seen at many of the events for Susan Powell or her children during the last three years, but there was no sign of them at Tuesday's vigil.

The vigil did have purple ribbons — the symbol supporters have used to promote Susan Powell's case — and a few tears, especially during the three songs played or sung during the hour. One song played during a slideshow of photos of Susan Powell, Charlie, Braden and the funeral for the boys.

Earlier Tuesday, Susan Powell's sister Denise Cox told The Tribune in a telephone interview the anniversary made her think of her nephews and their mother. Cox planned to visit Charlie and Braden's grave in Puyallup, Wash., and would like to be able to visit one for her sister, too.

"I have been able to grieve very little for the fact it's not all over," Cox said. "Until they find Susan, I won't be able to truly grieve."

A similar vigil was held Tuesday night in Puyallup, where Charlie and Braden lived before their family's move to West Valley City and again after their mother's disappearance. Puyallup is next to Graham.

Near the end of the West Valley City vigil, Danielle Johnson went to microphone. She said she remembered where she was when she heard about Charlie and Braden's murder.

Johnson said she never met the boys or their mother, but has gotten to know people who did. Johnson said she sees Susan Powell's compassion in others.

"I would hope I could leave a legacy like that," Johnson told the mourners.

Melinda Rogers and Brooke Adams contributed to this report. Twitter: @natecarlisle

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