Text from 911 calls about the murder-suicide that killed Josh Powell and his two sons

The text & audio from the phone calls before and after the fire that killed Josh Powell and his two children. I have copied and pasted the text from social worker Elizabeth Griffin-Hall below, which came from the Salt Lake Tribune.

The transcript below comes from The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah. On the website you can hear or read the transcripts from the social worker at the scene, Josh Powell’s lawyer, Powell’s boss, his sister and witnesses.

It amazes me at the slow response time our current emergency system has.  You would have thought that once Griffin-Hall said she smelt gasoline, the dispatcher would have sent a policeman over right away. But, no. Or you would have thought the dispatcher could have remembered who Griffin-Hall  was or whose house she was without asking multiple times.

It is slow responses like these and the lack of seeing when a serious situation is before us that ultimately leads to the death of innocent people- in this case two young boys who were hacked by a hatchet then burnt alive by their father.

photo from entertainmentlife.net/

• First call from social worker Elizabeth Griffin-Hall

Griffin-Hall: I’m on a supervised visitation for a court-ordered visit and something, really weird has happened. The kids went in the house and the biological parent, Josh Powell, will not let me in the door. What should I do?

Dispatcher: What’s the address?

Griffin-Hall: 8119 and I think it’s 89th, I don’t know what the address is, let me get in the car nothing like this has happened like this before. I’m really shocked, and I could hear one of the kids crying, and he still won’t let me in, OK, it’s 1, just a minute I have it here, you can’t find me by GPS?

Dispatcher: No

Griffin-Hall: OK, it is… I still can’t find it. He’s on a very short leash with DHSH, he looked right at me and closed the door. It’s 8119 189th Street Court East Puyallup. I’d like to pull out of the driveway because I smell gasoline, and he won’t let me in.

Dispatcher: He won’t let you out of the driveway?

Griffin-Hall: He won’t let me in the house.

Dispatcher: Whose house is it?

Griffin-Hall: Josh Powell

Dispatcher: You don’t live there?

Griffin-Hall: No, I’m contracted by the state to provide supervised visitation.

[Confusion about who Griffin-Hall is ensues, then gets cleared up]

Griffin-Hall: He’s the husband of Susan Powell, this is a high-profile case. I was one step in back of them.

Dipatcher: So they went in the house and locked you out?

Griffin-Hall: Yes, he shut the door in my face.

Dispatcher: What is your name?

Griffin-Hall: My name is Elizabeth Griffin-Hall.

Dispatcher: And what’s you’re phone number?

Griffin-Hall gives number.

Dispatcher: What agency are you with?

Griffin-Hall: Foster Care Resource Network, and the kids have been in there by now approximately 10 minutes, and he knows it’s a supervised visit. Braden is 5 and Charlie is 7.

Dispatcher: And the dad’s last name?

Griffin-Hall: Powell.

Dispatcher: Two L’s at the end of Powell?

Griffin-Hall: Yes.

Dispatcher: And his first name?

Griffin-Hall: His first name is Josh. [She gives physical description of him].

Dispatcher: Is he alone, or was anyone with him?

Griffin-Hall: I don’t know, I couldn’t get in the house

Dispatcher: Are you in a vehicle now or on foot?

Griffin-Hall: I’m in a 2010 Prius with the doors locked. He won’t let me in. I rang the doorbell and everything. I begged him to let me in.

Dispatcher: Elizabeth, please listen to my questions. What color is the Toyota Prius?

Griffin-Hall: Gray, dark gray.

Dispatcher: And the licence number?

Griffin-Hall: I don’t know, I can look. (Gets out of car) 750 ZMH

Dispatcher: OK, we’ll have someone look for you there.

Griffin-Hall: Do you know how long it will be?

Dispatcher: They have to respond to emergencies , life-threatening situations first.

Griffin-Hall: This could be life-threatening. He was in court on Wednesday and he didn’t get his kids back and this is really… I’m afraid for their lives.

Dispatcher: Has he threatened the lives of the children previously?

Griffin-Hall: I have no idea

Dispatcher: OK we’ll have the first available deputy contact you.

Griffin-Hall: Thank you

Dispatcher: Bye.


» Second call from social worker Elizabeth Griffin-Hall

Dispatcher: Hello. Were you calling about the fire on 189th street?

Griffin-Hall: Yes, he exploded the house. He exploded the house.

Dispatcher: Ma’am, do you know the exact address?

Griffin-Hall: It’s 8119 189th Court East in Puyallup

Dispatcher: What are you calling about?

Griffin-Hall: It exploded, the house.

Dispatcher: Do you know where you are?

Griffin-Hall: 8119 189th Street Court East in Puyallup

Dispatcher: Do you know if there’s anyone in the house?

Griffin-Hall: Yes, there was a man and two children. I just dropped off the children and he wouldn’t let me in the door.

Dispatcher: Stay on the line with me. I’m going to get the fire department. Hang on. Don’t hang up. Stay on the phone here with me ma’am. Fire this is Rose. I’m transferring the lady who has the exact address.

Griffin-Hall: I can hear the fire trucks, but they’re not here yet. It’s 8119

Dispatcher: We have an engine there.

Griffin-Hall: People are saying there is not somebody here, but there’s a couple of boys, 5 and 7, he has supervised visitation and he blew up the house and the kids.

Dispatcher: The kids and the father were in the house?

Griffin-Hall: Yes, he slammed the door in my face so I kept knocking. I thought it was a mistake, I kept knocking and then I called 911.

Dispatcher: You saw him go back in the house?

Griffin-Hall: He didn’t ever leave the house, he just opened the door, the kids were one step ahead of me, they are 5 and 7, they were one step ahead of me and he slammed the door in my face.

Dispatcher: Do you think he might have done this intentionally?

Griffin-Hall: Yes.

Dispatcher: County, go ahead with what you need.

Dispatcher: What is your name, ma’am?

Griffin-Hall: I’m Elizabeth Griffin-Hall, I’m the supervisor visitation (incoherent noises and crying)

Dispatchers: What is your last name?

Griffin-Hall calmly spells it.

Dispatcher: Where are you at right now?

Griffin-Hall: I’m at 8112 on the same court,

Dispatcher: So you are at 8112 189th Street Court East

Griffin-Hall: Yes

Dispatcher: Are you in the car?

Griffin-Hall: I was in it I’m standing outside it right now

Dispatcher: Is that your home address?

Griffin-Hall: No, I’m the supervised visitation coordinator.

Dispatcher: What is the person’s name

Griffin-Hall: His name is Josh Powell. Just a minute the sheriff is here.

Dispatcher: Go ahead and talk to the officer, ma’am


To read or here more go to The Salt Lake Tribune.


About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
This entry was posted in United States and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s