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They said the boys played happily and didn’t want to visit their father when the time came for their weekly Sunday visit. But Judy Cox said she talked them into going — and she now regrets it.

Charles Cox said he didn’t necessarily think there was any more the court could have done legally to protect his grandchildren. However, he said he didn’t like that there was only one supervisor during their visits with their father.

“We suspected that if he had the boys in his control, with him, and he felt the police were closing in, he was capable (of hurting them),” Cox said. “We didn’t like that there was only one supervisor. Frankly, she couldn’t have stopped him if he wanted to do something.”

The boys were emotionally distant when they first arrived at their grandparents’ home, Charles Cox said, but recently they had become warmer. And that gave the grandparents hope that maybe someday they would be able to relate what happened to their mother.

“They were like little robots. If you asked them about mommy, they would run away,” he said. But “in the last week, I could not sit down without them climbing up on my lap.”

Charles Cox said that the summer after his daughter disappeared, Braden drew a picture at day care of a van with three people in it, and told caregivers who asked him about it that it was a picture of his family going camping: “Mommy’s in the trunk,” the boy reportedly said.

But the boys had not recently made more comments to that effect, Charles Cox said, contradicting earlier remarks by his lawyer, Steve Downing, who told The Associated Press that the older child had recently mentioned their mother being in the trunk.

Nielsen said Utah authorities would continue with their investigation, and hoped to make an arrest in the Susan Powell case this year.

“On a criminal case of this nature, you’ve got one shot. You’ve got to make sure everything is done right,” Nielsen said. “Our case is not closed.”

Brian Skoloff reported from Salt Lake City. Reporter Gene Johnson contributed from Seattle.