Washington State Child Services social worker Elizabeth Griffin-Hall has finally spoken about the tragedy in whichtook his own life and those of his two young sons by setting his home ablaze. In an interview with ABC News, Griffin-Hall, who was the eyewitness of the murder-suicide, recounted the moments before the house went up in flames.
Griffin-Hall brought the two boys, 7-year-old Charles and 5-year-old Braden, to meet their father Josh Powell at his home for a supervised visit. Although Powell had no criminal record, he was the only “person of interest” in the 2009 disappearance of his wife, Susan, the boys’ mother.
Talking to ABC News, Elizabeth Griffin-Hall described the events that led to the disastrous end. She said of Josh Powell, "He caught my eye, his shoulders were slumped. He had a sheepish look. He just shrugged his shoulders and slammed the door."
“I heard him say, 'Charlie, I've got a big surprise for you'... and then I heard Braden cry out." Griffin-Hall said. "I'm saying, 'Let me in, Josh, let me in' - I realized I didn't have my phone in my hand and I could smell gas. Too much time had passed and I could smell gas."
Griffin-Hall added that at the time, she "wanted to get to the kids and would have broken in if [she] could.”
"I couldn't have stopped him," said Griffin-Hall. "I did everything I was supposed to do. I did everything right and the boys are still dead. It took just a second. When I close my eyes I see him and he was so normal. He did not look like a monster."
When Josh Powell refused to let her in, the social worker immediately called 911, but was told that the emergency dispatcher was supposed to deal with “life-threatening situations first.”
“This could be life-threatening!” she told the dispatcher. In her second call, Elizabeth Griffin-Hall was speaking to the 911 supervisor when the explosion occurred.
Despite her first-hand experience with the horrible incident, Griffin-Hall says she will continue to carry out her duties as a child services worker. "God called me to do this," she said. "I am not going to be [Powell’s] victim. He's not going to destroy my passion for children. He's not going to stop me from working with children.”
When asked why Josh Powell committed the murder-suicide, Elizabeth Griffin-Hall responded, “Because Josh Powell is really, really evil.”
The interview, “Sins of the Father”, will air Friday on ABC's "20/20".