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Sheriff Unhappy With Dispatcher In Powell Case

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The burned out remains of a home are pictured on Feb. 7, 2012 near Graham, Wash., where Josh Powell killed himself and his two sons, Charlie and Braden, in a fire during a court-ordered visit. (credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The burned out remains of a home are pictured on Feb. 7, 2012 near Graham, Wash., where Josh Powell killed himself and his two sons, Charlie and Braden, in a fire during a court-ordered visit. (credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

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SEATTLE (AP) — A 911 recording reveals a social worker’s urgent attempts over more than six minutes to get a dispatcher to send deputies after Josh Powell locked himself and his two sons in his home.

The social worker tried repeatedly to relay the gravity of what was going on. Josh Powell was scheduled for a supervised visit with his sons Sunday, but he slammed the door in her face — then used a hatchet on his sons and torched the building in a gas-fueled inferno. All three were killed.

In the first minutes of the 911 call, the woman laid out the situation.

“Something really weird has happened. The kids went into the house and the parent — the biological parent — whose name is Josh Powell will not let me in the door. What should I do? … I could hear one of the kids crying, and he still wouldn’t let me in.”

The social worker told the dispatcher she “was one step in back of (the boys). He shut the door right in my face.”

At one point the dispatcher asked the social worker what address she was at. The social worker didn’t know and needed to look for it. It took her about 1 ½ minutes to find it in her car. At one point she asks, “You can’t find me by GPS?” While she’s still looking for the address she says, “But I think I need help right away.”

After six minutes on the call, a dispatcher says: “We’ll have somebody look for you there.”

“OK, how long will it be?” the woman asks.

“I don’t know, ma’am. We have to respond to emergency life-threatening situations first. The first available deputy …”

The woman responded: “This could be life-threatening … I’m afraid for their lives.”

Pierce County Sheriff’s Detective Ed Troyer said Wednesday that his department is still waiting to receive a copy of the “call-and-dispatch” log from the 911 center to see exactly how long it took for deputies to respond. The center did not immediately respond to a public records request from The Associated Press for the document.

However, Troyer said the sheriff’s department is displeased with the dispatcher’s etiquette because he left the social worker with the impression that no help was immediately on the way.

“Are we unhappy with the etiquette and the manner? Yes,” Troyer said. “Did it affect the response time? No. Dispatchers are typing information and addresses while they’re on the phone with callers.”

After the home erupted in flames, the woman screamed in a separate call: “He exploded the house!”

Also Tuesday, authorities released a 911 call Josh Powell’s sister made Sunday, saying she received emails from her brother explaining what to do with his property and saying he couldn’t live without his sons. Alina Powell told a dispatcher she feared her brother was going to do something because of pressure he faced after his wife, Susan, disappeared two years ago. Josh Powell was a “person of interest” in Susan’s Utah disappearance.

Crying, Alina Powell told the dispatcher: “I’m terrified to drive over there. I’m not afraid of him. He’s never hurt me. I’m afraid of seeing something I don’t want to see.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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