Police said they have conducted a second search of a missing Utah woman's home as her family expressed sadness, but not surprise, that her husband is a person of interest in the investigation.
“We served a search warrant at the house to see if there are any physical items that could shed light on this case,” West Valley City Police Capt. Tom McLachlan told NBC News. “Those items are being processed at the state crime lab.” McLachlan would not disclose what was taken from the home during the Thursday search.
Susan Powell, a 28-year-old mother of two, was reported missing Dec. 7 after she failed to show up for work. She was last seen a day earlier. Her husband, Josh Powell, said he went camping with the couple’s sons, ages 2 and 4, in subfreezing temperatures about 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 7 and returned that evening.
McLachlan said the 4-year-old confirmed the camping trip in an interview with police, but he cautioned against placing too much importance on any child's statement: “You have to be very careful with the information you get from them to make sure that it’s not mixed up with another potential incident in that child’s mind.”
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Friday on TODAY, Meredith Vieira interviewed Susan Powell’s father, Chuck Cox, via satellite from Orting, Wash. “After hearing Josh’s comments to the media, and basically the lack of information coming forward from him ... and the police naming him a person of interest — they don’t do that without a reason,” Cox said.
“We have been trying to be supportive of Josh,” Cox added. “We want Josh to come forward, please, and tell us the rest of the story. Tell us a credible story, please.”
When Vieira asked him if he suspected Josh Powell of being involved in his daughter’s disappearance, Cox replied: “I still have my reservations about if he did anything to my daughter, but I think he knows something that he needs to tell us. He has to help us find my daughter ... I want his help to help all of us find Susan.”
Earlier in the day on Thursday, police said the behavior of Josh Powell — who has refused to cooperate in the search for his missing wife — is not normal.
“[I would] describe him as abnormal under the circumstances,” West Valley City Assistant Police Chief Craig Black said during an interview with TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “This is not normally what we see happen.”
Usually the families of missing persons are eager to help police, Black has told reporters. But after talking to police on Dec. 7, the day relatives reported Susan missing, Powell has hired a defense attorney and declined to talk to authorities further.
“We feel that Josh, probably more than anyone else, could provide us information and insight into what has happened to Susan, whether it be foul play or not at this point,” Black told Lauer. “We would truly like to visit with him, interview him and, frankly, ask him some questions about things he may even be uncomfortable talking to us about that would help lead us to find her.”
‘Saddened, but not surprised’
At a press conference Thursday afternoon in Puyallup, Wash., Susan Powell’s family said they are saddened but not surprised that her husband has been named a person of interest in the investigation.
Shelby Gifford, a spokeswoman for the family, said they weren’t surprised authorities 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.
Video: Search intensifies for missing Utah woman Josh Powell said he went camping with the couple’s boys — Charlie, age 4, and Raden, age 2 — at about 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 7 and returned home the following afternoon. He said he and his sons camped in the west desert on the old Pony Express trail, sleeping in their minivan. He told police that Susan didn’t feel well and stayed home.
When the boys didn’t show up at day care the next day and Susan didn’t show up for work, police were notified. They broke into the house, where they found Susan’s cell phone, keys and purse and two fans trained on a wet spot on the living room carpet.
When Josh Powell returned later that afternoon with the boys, he said he did not know what happened to Susan. Because of an overnight snowstorm and Powell’s vague description of where he was, police said they have not even been able to locate the campsite.
Clues in a notepad?
Utah newspapers have reported that police in West Valley City, a Salt Lake City suburb, have taken a notebook from Susan’s desk at work as evidence. The papers have reported that the notebook may contain clues about marital problems the couple is said to have been experiencing. But Black declined to talk about any evidence that his department may have collected, instead continuing his public request that Josh Powell submit to questioning.
Meanwhile, Susan’s family continues to refrain from publicly suspecting Josh of being involved in Susan’s disappearance.
Susan’s brother, Kirk Graves, also talked with Lauer Thursday. Speaking from his home in Las Vegas, Graves said the family hopes that Josh will speak to police to help their investigation. At the same time, though, Graves said, “We understand his desire to get an attorney.”
“I would agree with that,” Graves said without elaboration.
Graves said he has seen Josh and spoken to him, but has not had a chance to ask him specific questions. “He’s quiet. We haven’t had a chance to have any conversations on specific questions, such as where is Susan?” he told Lauer. “He’s just very stressed, he’s concerned, but nothing more than that.”
‘I just pray no’
Local newspapers have reported that Josh had become more controlling after he and his wife moved to Utah from Washington state. The couple had filed for bankruptcy in 2007, and money may have been a problem.
Graves said that his wife, Jennifer, and Susan were close and talked about the state of the marriage.
Lauer ended the interview by asking Graves, “In your heart of hearts, do you think Josh had anything to do with Susan’s disappearance?”
“Wow,” Graves said before continuing. “I’ve very carefully avoided analyzing that question. On my part, there’s too many emotions, too many family members. I just pray no.”
At the press conference in Puyallup, Susan Powell’s relatives cried and appeared stunned to be sitting in front of reporters and television cameras. Susan’s father, Chuck Cox, responded to a question about whether he believes his daughter is still alive.
“That’s a tough question. I believe she is. I have nothing to say she isn’t,” he said. “As a father, I can’t give up the hope that she’s alive.”
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