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Few answers after dad, sons die in fire

A Pierce County fire investigator works his way through charred rubble, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, at the home where Josh Powell and his two sons were killed Sunday, in Graham, Wash., in what police said appeared to be a deliberately set fire. Powell's wife Susan went mysteriously missing from their West Valley City, Utah, home in December 2009. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A Pierce County fire investigator works his way through charred rubble, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, at the home where Josh Powell and his two sons were killed Sunday, in Graham, Wash., in what police said appeared to be a deliberately set fire. Powell's wife Susan went mysteriously missing from their West Valley City, Utah, home in December 2009. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

GRAHAM, Wash. -- Josh Powell's note was simple and short, a farewell to the world after two years of being scrutinized in the media, hammered by police and questioned by judges, prosecutors and social workers, living his life under a microscope since the day his wife vanished.

"I'm sorry, goodbye," Powell wrote in an email to his attorney just minutes before authorities said he set fire to his home, killing himself and his two young sons days after he was denied custody and ordered to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation.

The Sunday blaze at Powell's home brought yet another twist in the very public scandal that began when Susan Powell vanished in 2009. The case had since spiraled into a salacious saga of finger-pointing and accusations of sex and lies -- and now the unthinkable loss of two young lives caught in the middle.

A social worker brought the two boys to Josh Powell's home Sunday for what was to be a supervised visit. They rushed toward the home, leaving the social worker behind. By the time she got to the door, Powell had let his sons in but locked her out, Graham Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Franz told The Associated Press.

Pierce County sheriff's Sgt. Ed Troyer said emails Powell sent just prior to the blaze seemed to confirm that Powell planned the deadly fire. He didn't elaborate on the content of the emails.

Jeffrey Bassett, who represented Powell in the custody case, said he received an ominous email from his client just minutes before the fire.

"I'm sorry, goodbye," it read.

Investigators tried to fill in holes Monday in the case with an arson investigation at the home and autopsies on Josh Powell and his sons, said Troyer. Local detectives also are meeting with police from West Valley City, Utah, who have been looking for Susan Powell.

Steve Richards, assistant chief of Graham Fire and Rescue, said crews were assessing the remnants of the home to determine how the fire began and what types of accelerants might have been used. He said responders arrived on scene about three minutes after getting the call and found flames already through the roof.

"It was just devastation," he said.

A candlelight vigil was held Sunday night for the boys outside the 7-year-old's school in Puyallup.

The investigation will include a closer look at Josh Powell's last movements and messages.

Josh Powell's father also was informed of the death in the jail in Tacoma where he's being held for investigation of voyeurism. He's on suicide watch, Troyer said.