Discuss as:

Powell won't be buried near sons he killed

The family of Josh Powell wants to bury him next to his sons, who he killed in a fiery house explosion that also claimed his own life, but a local anti-crime group isn't having it. They bought up neighboring cemetery plots to make sure Josh Powell's remains are kept away, and the fight is now heading to court. Msnbc's Thomas Roberts reports.

The man who killed his two sons in an explosive house fire in Washington state will not be buried in the same cemetery as the children, his family said Thursday.

Josh Powell's mother, Terri Powell, issued a written statement confirming that the family had given up a plot tentatively reserved at Woodbine Cemetery overlooking the boys' grave.

"We have tried so hard to be loving and considerate and respectful in making Josh's burial arrangements," she said. "We love our little Charlie and Braden and want their resting place to be a place of peace and comfort."

Powell, the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, killed his 5- and 7-year-old sons and himself in a gas-fueled blaze Feb. 5 at a home he was renting in Graham.

More than 1,000 mourners attended the boys' funeral Saturday. They were later buried in a single casket at Woodbine, a municipal cemetery in Puyallup.

Terri Powell, wracked by grief, realized early this week that no one else was planning for what to do with Josh Powell's remains, said her son-in-law, Kirk Graves. She visited a funeral home and a few cemeteries, he said, and she "cluelessly" picked a gravesite just up the hill from where the boys are buried.

But that plan sparked outrage in the Puyallup community.

On Wednesday, a sheriff and his sergeant bought burial plots next to Josh Powell's boys in order to block family members from burying him next to them.

"The bottom line is, Josh Powell will not be near those two boys," Pierce County Sheriff's Sgt. Ed Troyer said in an interview Wednesday with a Seattle-area radio program called The Ron and Don Show.

Troyer and Sheriff Paul Pastor used their personal money and funds from Crimestoppers Tacoma-Pierce County to buy plots that are on either side of the boys, according to a report on the radio station's website that was confirmed by Troyer on Twitter.

Crimestoppers is soliciting money on its website for the purchase of the plots.

"It's disgusting that a murder suspect would be buried next to his victims," Pastor said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Attorney Steve Downing, who represents Susan Powell's parents, Charles and Judy Cox, said they were immensely relieved by the news Thursday that the Powell family had given up the plot near the boys' grave.

Josh Powell was a suspect in Susan Powell's 2009 disappearance from their home in West Valley City, Utah. He had always claimed that he didn't know what happened to his wife. He took the boys — then 2 and 4 — on a midnight camping trip in freezing weather in the Utah desert, he said, and when he returned home the next day authorities were at the house looking for her.

Weeks later, he moved the boys to his father's home in Puyallup. After Steve Powell's arrest on voyeurism and child pornography charges last fall, the boys were removed from the house and turned over to the Coxes.

A social worker brought them to Josh Powell's rental home for what was supposed to be a court-sanctioned supervised visit. Josh Powell let the boys inside, locked the social worker out, hit them with a hatchet and set fire to gasoline, authorities said.

A judge had recently ordered that Josh Powell undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation if he hoped to regain custody, and in a last-minute message to his sister, Powell said he couldn't live without his boys.

"For him to be buried near those kids is just unthinkable," attorney Anne Bremner, who represents Susan Powell's parents, Charles and Judy Cox, said. "For God's sake, for them to lose Susan first, and then the boys, and now this? Just give these people a break."

The family of Susan Powell hopes to bury her with the boys, if her remains are ever found, the SeattlePI.com reported Thursday.

More content from msnbc.com and NBC News