The father who deliberately killed himself and his two sons in a fire left a despondent and apologetic phone message with relatives shortly before Sunday's murder-suicide.
"I am not able to live without my sons, and I'm not able to go on anymore. I'm sorry to everyone I've hurt. Goodbye," Josh Powell said in a voicemail to unidentified relatives obtained by ABC's "Good Morning America."
Powell's ominous words were recorded 20 minutes before he attacked his sons Braden, 5, and Charles, 7, with a hatchet moments after they bounded into his Graham, Wash. home ahead of a Child Protective Services worker who accompanied them for a supervised visit with their dad.
Powell locked out the child welfare worker before chopping Charles in the neck and Braden in the head and neck, according to an autopsy report. He then set a fire that quickly engulfed the house. All three apparently died from smoke inhalation, Fox News says.
Authorities said Monday that Powell -- who had lost a court battle last Wednesday to regain custody of his sons -- had carefully planned the deadly blaze for several days, according to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He donated toys to a charity over the weekend and composed goodbye emails to relatives and acquaintances, some of which included instructions on where to find his savings, the newspaper reports.
The explosion that razed Powell's house to the ground was the latest dark chapter for a family beset by scandal and despair since Powell's wife Susan Cox Powell vanished in December 2009 in Utah.
PHOTOS FROM THE POWELL FAMILY TRAGEDY:(Story continues below)
Police labeled Josh Powell a person of interest in his 28-year-old wife's disappearance. But Powell claimed that his wife was gone when he returned from an overnight camping trip with his boys.
He didn't mention Susan in the phone messages and emails he sent shortly before his death, media outlets said.
The Utah cops searching for Susan Powell say their investigation continues, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Braden and Charles had lived with their father and grandfather Steven Powell until the fall. They were removed from the home and given to their maternal grandparents, because Steven Powell was charged with voyeurism and possessing child pornography .
Normally, the children liked visiting their dad, but on Sunday they were unexpectedly reluctant to spend time with him, Susan's father Chuck Cox told The Seattle Times.