Husband Named Person of Interest in Susan Powell Disappearance

Police said Joshua Powell has not been fully cooperative during interviews.

Dec. 16, 2009 — -- The husband of a missing Utah mom has become "a person of interest" in her disappearance, police told ABC News today.

West Valley City Police Capt. Tom McLachlan said investigators were looking at Joshua Powell in connection with the disappearance of 28-year-old Susan Powell more than a week ago.

Joshua Powell agreed to a police interview early in the investigation, but he became more uncooperative as the search wore on. He failed to show up for a scheduled interview with investigators on Monday, and on Tuesday answered only a handful of detectives' questions, McLachlan said.

The captain said that Powell's attorney, Scott C. Williams, has made statements that lead the public to think he's served up his client to police "on a silver platter," but McLachlan said Powell would only answer a few of the investigators' questions.

Powell, he said, "is not fully cooperating, and while he's cooperating at some level it is certainly not the level we would like."

Police obtained a court order to force a DNA sample of Powell Tuesday. McLachlan told ABC News that they secured the court order for Powell's DNA to guarantee they would get it.

DNA samples also have been collected from others, but McLachlan would not elaborate on who they had tested.

Police have been back to the Simpson Springs Campground where Powell told investigators he had taken his young sons on a camping trip in the early morning hours of Dec. 6, they told ABC News, but they could not find any evidence that verified his story.

ABC News has learned that fewer than 20 people visit the remote campground each winter. The temperature the night Powell allegedly took the couple's sons, ages 4 and 2, to the campground was between 10 and 25 degrees, with rain and snow. Powell told police they set out for the trip around 12:30 a.m.

Investigators have been at the Powell home every day since Susan Powell was reported missing Dec. 7, neighbors said. Forensic tests were run in portions of the house, but were not expected back for weeks.

Father-in-Law Wavers

Susan Powell's father, Charles Cox, indicated to "Good Morning America" Monday that his faith in his son-in-law was wavering.

"I asked him if he had any idea where his wife, my daughter Susan, would be. And he said he didn't. He was sincere sounding when he said that. I believed that," Cox told "GMA."

When asked if he still believed his son-in-law, Cox replied, "I don't know what to think anymore."

Cox said that now he has no choice but to leave the investigation up to police.

"I understand the concerns I'm hearing from everyone, and I can see their point," he said. "I just don't want us to focus on him exclusively or that story exclusively when there might be another explanation."

Best Friend: 'I Don't Believe There Can Be Any, Very Much Hope Left'

Others also are confused by Powell's actions, including his decision to hire a lawyer.

Powell did not show up for a scheduled second interview Monday, police said.

"It kind of raises a red flag, but I know he has to protect himself," neighbor Wendy Trujillo told "Good Morning America." "We're just really worried about Susan. And of course, everyone's thinking the worst and just hoping by the faith of God that she does come back."

Trujillo told ABC News that police and forensic units have removed several bags and boxes as well as one of the family's computers. Joshua Powell and the couple's sons, she said, have not been staying at the house.

"She's been gone for an entire week. I don't believe there can be any, very much hope left," a tearful Kiirsi Hellewell, Susan Powell's best friend, told ABC News this week. "I'm trying to stay busy and not think about it. But I don't see how there's any way she can still be alive."

Joshua Powell told police his wife didn't go camping with them because she was feeling sick.

Cox said it's not unusual for his son-in-law to get a late start.

"It was believable," Cox said of Powell's story. "It was unusual, but believable to me."

But Hellewell said she talked to Susan Powell the day she went missing and she wasn't sick. Police told ABC News they couldn't verify Joshua Powell's camping trip because snow had covered the spot where he said they went.

The West Valley City Police found Susan Powell's purse and keys in her bedroom and say there was no sign of forced entry at the house.

"She would never leave her children, and she would never leave without contacting anybody," Hellewell said.

Susan Powell's Friends Say the Couple Discussed Marital Problems

Susan Powell's friends told ABC News that although the couple openly had discussed marital and financial problems in the past and at one point were considering divorce, they had made a real effort to reconnect.

They both had good jobs, Hellewell told ABC News, and Joshua Powell had begun going back to church.

Cox previously had criticized the speculation about his son-in-law's possible involvement.

"I don't see him as capable of harming her," Cox told the Salt Lake Tribune this weekend. "I'm kind of concerned that all the focus is on him."

Police officials interviewed Joshua Powell, as well as the couple's 4-year-old child, but walked away with more questions than answers, they told ABC News last week.

"He did give us a statement, and we're following up on all aspects of that statement," said Capt. Tom McLachlan, who called her disappearance "suspicious."

Anyone with information regarding the case can call West Valley City Police at (801) 840-4000.

CLICK HERE to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.