Husband of missing Utah mom isn’t talking
But father of Susan Powell still hopes husband will cooperate with police
By Mike Celizic
updated 7:29 a.m. PT, Tues., Dec . 15, 2009
Dec. 15: Susan Powell has been missing for more than a week and her husband has stopped speaking to the police. NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports on the investigation into her disappearance.
Although he has not been named as a suspect, the husband of a missing Utah mother of two has stopped talking to police and hired a prominent criminal defense lawyer as the mystery deepens over what happened to Susan Powell.
But in an interview with Natalie Morales on TODAY Tuesday, Powell’s father, Chuck Cox, refrained from casting suspicion on his son-in-law, Josh Powell. “I can understand him feeling the need to have legal counsel,” Cox said. “I’m looking to get eyes and ears out looking for my daughter.”
Powell, 28, was last seen by anyone other than her husband and children on the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 6. When she didn’t show up for work and didn’t bring her sons to day care on Monday, family members called police. Fearing something had happened to the entire family, police broke into the Powell home, on a cul-de-sac in a well-kept Salt Lake City suburb. They found two fans aimed at a wet spot on the living room carpet. They also found Susan’s purse and cell phone, along with her car.
Later on Monday, Josh returned to the family’s West Valley City home with sons Charlie, 4, and Raden, 2, and told police he had left at around 12:30 a.m. to go on a camping trip in the desert west of town. He said Susan was too sick to go along and that he didn’t know what had happened to her.
Josh Powell was scheduled to talk to police again on Monday, but he reportedly did not show up for the appointment. He also hired local defense attorney Scott Williams. But, Cox told Morales, “I try not to make anything of it because it’s part of an ongoing investigation.”
Morales asked him if he wishes Powell would talk to police.
“I would hope he would cooperate with police,” Cox said. But, he added, with sentiment running against Powell in the local media, he understood why his son-in-law felt the need to hire an attorney: “If I were in his position, I would probably feel the same way.”
‘Ups and downs’
Regarding his daughter’s marriage, Cox told Morales: “I knew they had their ups and downs. It’s my knowledge everything was going well.” He said he’s spoken to his grandchildren, but does not know if they’re staying with their father or with another relative.
If there were problems in the marriage, even Susan Powell’s family members are saying Josh Powell was not a violent man.
But criminal profiler Pat Brown told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Tuesday that the lack of a prior history of violence does not mean Powell was incapable of it. She also said that Josh Powell is probably the only suspect in the disappearance, even though police continue to say he is not the focus of their investigation.
“There doesn’t have to be physical violence for something to go bad in one night, especially if the woman is considering possibly leaving the man. That’s when we usually see this kind of thing go down,” Brown said.
“The husband’s story obviously is ludicrous, and that’s why they’re looking at that,” she added.
Brown and others say it seems highly unusual for a father to take two toddlers out camping in the middle of the night when temperatures were below freezing. But Josh Powell said he frequently took such overnight trips with his kids, and they slept inside his van.
Joshua Powell told police he last saw his wife before taking their sons on a late-night camping trip.
Police have interviewed the Powells’ oldest son, Charlie, but have not disclosed what the boy told them.
Powell reportedly told police that he went to a campground in the desert west of Salt Lake City. Police attempted to revisit the site, but an overnight snowstorm covered all signs of visitors to the site.
With snow covering tracks, Brown told Lauer there are slim hopes of even finding a body, if Susan Powell has come to a violent end.
“The chances of finding her are probably very small until somebody just gets lucky,” she said.
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