PUYALLUP, Wash. - The family of a Utah mother who has been missing for 10 days said yesterday they are saddened but not surprised that her husband has been named a person of interest in the investigation.
Susan Powell, 28, the mother of two young children, was reported missing Dec. 7, after she didn't show up for work. She was last reported seen a day earlier.
Her husband, Josh, said he had gone camping with the couple's boys, ages 2 and 4, in subfreezing temperatures about 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 7 and returned in the evening. Puyallup is about 5 miles east of Tacoma.
At a news conference here yesterday, Shelby Gifford, a spokeswoman for Susan Powell's family, said they weren't surprised that authorities had named Josh Powell a person of interest "given the events and his reactions to them in the past week.
"We know that Susan is an excellent mother and would not have tolerated her children being taken out of the home after midnight to go camping in dangerously cold conditions," Gifford said.
Authorities said Josh Powell's actions have made them increasingly suspicious of him, although he has not been named a suspect.
"Josh's unusual lack of cooperation for a husband looking for his wife with the police department, you know, it certainly causes us to ask questions as to why would he do things to exclude the resources that we can bring to the table to find Susan," Craig Black, West Valley City assistant police chief, said Wednesday.
But Powell's attorney, Scott Williams, disputed allegations made by police that his client had been uncooperative.
"Despite our continued invitation to be contacted with questions we received no contact from the police today [Wednesday] and as to the nature of prior information, we have answered all questions posed to us since Monday morning," he said. "Josh continues to favor attention on finding Susan and has been cooperating and providing information to that end."
Josh Powell provide a DNA sample Tuesday to police, as did several other family members. Williams, described the DNA testing as routine in such cases.
The Powell home was locked when officers initially arrived and they broke in, fearing that the family had suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Susan Powell's father, Charles Cox, of Puyallup, said police found a wet spot that was being dried by two fans, but police have declined to comment on that. Investigators said there were no signs of forced entry and they found Susan Powell's purse and cell phone there. She was last seen by someone other than her husband on Dec. 6 - a family friend who ate dinner with her at the couple's home following church.
Kirk Graves, the husband of Josh Powell's sister, told NBC's "Today" show yesterday that his brother-in-law was an "interesting person" with a "different" personality. Asked if he thought his brother-in-law had something to do with Susan Powell's disappearance, Graves said he's avoided analyzing the question.
"I just pray no," he said.