W hy did he have to take the boys?
Clearly, Josh Powell has been under intense pressure since his wife, Susan, vanished on a frigid December night in 2009. Although uncharged, his life has been under the legal and public microscope ever since, and rightfully so.
Lately, the boys have started to talk about the night their mother went missing. They were 4 and 2 at the time, but told their grandparents about their mother being in a car trunk.
Although we'll never know for sure, that alone might have pushed Josh Powell to kill them and himself.
By all accounts, Charlie and Braden Powell ran up to their dad's front door ahead of the social worker who was supposed to supervise their visit.
Minutes later, the house exploded in gasoline-fueled flames, and Charlie and Braden were lost to the many friends and relatives who had protected them for more than two years.
Josh Powell has never been charged in Susan Powell's disappearance. He has been the subject of intense scrutiny by law enforcement, the courts, family members and friends, and everyone else who has watched with anger as the case slogged along.
Naturally, everyone has a theory: Susan was murdered; she ran off with another man; she abandoned her sons to get away from her husband. None is provable and probably never will be.
But David Rudd, a University of Utah psychologist and suicidologist, says Josh Powell shows all the signs of a man who has a significant sense of entitlement, control and narcissism.
People who kill their children and themselves, Rudd says, are driven by the idea that if they can't have them, nobody else will.
"Sometimes in these kinds of cases … there's an inability to deal effectively with loss, in this case his children. Men kill their wives 'rather than lose you, I'll kill you.'
"It's the sad, distorted thinking you see in individuals who do these things," Rudd says. "It just breaks your heart to see this."
He added: "It certainly offers some insight into the possibility of what happened to his wife."
What we do know is that two beautiful boys, who were living happily with their grandparents, are dead at the hands of the man who helped create their lives.
For me, all that's left is deep sorrow for Charlie and Braden and all who loved and protected them, and absolutely none for the man who killed them.
Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: For those who may consider suicide or know someone who is, help is available at suicidehotlines.com/utah.html, suicidehotlines.com/national.html and at the Utah-based Caring Connection, www.nursing.utah.edu/practical/caringconnection