Missing Mom's Husband's Actions Eyed

Missing Utah mom Susan Powell and family CBS

Police in Utah are putting more investigators into the search for a 28-year-old mother whose disappearance has been termed "highly suspicious."

Since Susan Powell was reported missing Monday, authorities have questioned her husband and searched a desert area where he said he took the couple's two young children, ages 2 and 4, camping last weekend in freezing conditions. He says his wife was still home when he left.

Josh Powell returned Monday night, after police had already received a call from relatives who had not heard from the Powell family.

The family called police Monday, when she didn't show up for her job as a stockbroker at Wells Fargo Financial.

Josh Powell was also a no-show at his job Monday, and the children weren't brought to their nanny, authorities say.

"We are putting practically every detective we have on this case," West Valley City Police Capt. Tom McLachlan said Friday afternoon. "It's highly suspicious."

He said about 30 detectives hunted down leads Friday as investigators tried to verify Josh Powell's story, but couldn't because snow had covered the spot along The Pony Express Trail where he said he took the children.

"We can't confirm he was there. We can't disprove he was there," McLachlan told The Salt Lake Tribune. McLachlan also told the newspaper Josh Powell is cooperative and not a suspect, nor a person of interest. "He is a person we are interested in talking to again, interviewing again, as we have interviewed many people and talked to many people," he said. But, he continiued, police had no plans to talk to Josh Powll Friday.

Josh Powell told a reporter he and the boys got off to a "pretty late start" for the trip, later than 9 p.m.

CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports Powell told police he drove the boys at least two hours to a remote camping site, where they slept in their van, as overnight temperatures dropped to the mid-20's.

Powell told the reporter he "was somehow thinking that it was Sunday," having gotten confused about what day it was.

Susan Powell's best friend, Kiirsi Hellewell, told "Early Show Saturday Edition" substitute co-anchor Seth Doane, "I don't want to jeopardize my relationship with Josh, but I think that there's nobody that would say that (the camping trip, under those conditions) was not suspicious and very strange."

Hellewell said she saw Josh Powell at a candlelight vigil Thursday night at a park near the Powells' home, and "He's feeling very alone right now, kind of like the whole world is against him, and so we kind of just wanted him to provide a listening ear and let him know that he still has friends and that he's not alone. ... He's normally very talkative, very outspoken, and he's kind of very quiet right now and kind of acts confused."

The Powells' nanny, Debbie, who asked that her last name not be used, observed to Doane that, "It wasn't unlike (Josh and his sons) to go out on a short overnighter and sleep in their van, but they're not avid campers."

Josh Powell has not been named as a suspect. Susan Powell's father said "The Early Show" Friday he doubted Josh would harm his daughter.

Susan Powell's family in Puyallup, Wash., south of Seattle, was getting daily updates from police and hoped something would turn up to lead detectives to the missing mother.

"This is a really difficult time for the family," said Shelby Gifford, a friend who the family asked to act as a spokeswoman. "They've been really comforted by all of the support. That's something to hang on to right now, and they're very grateful for that."

Gifford said the family has also been in frequent contact with Susan Powell's friends.

"That's one of the only things that keeps you going," Gifford said. "That and the belief we need to find Susan and we need to find her now."

Gifford said police told the family that Susan Powell's purse and cell phone were in the home when it was searched.

McLachlan said she hasn't contacted anyone since her disappearance. Her parents say she wouldn't have left her two young sons and husband on her own accord.
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