Stockbroker Susan Powell Still Missing, Husband Considered "Person of Interest"

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Susan Powell has been missing for 10 days. Police are now calling her husband Josh a "person of interest."
UPDATE: Susan's friends say she went out of her way to tell them she'd never commit suicide, foretelling a day when she might disappear. Details after the jump.

Pete Kotz at our sister-site True Crime Report has been all over the case of missing stockbroker Susan Powell. So we're going to let him fill you in on the details.

"Josh Powell says he last saw his 28-year-old wife Susan as she was getting ready for bed in their West Valley City, Utah home. He claims he suddenly decided to take his two young boys camping at 12:30 a.m. In frigid temperatures and snow.

That was ten days ago. No one's seen Susan since."

"She failed to show up for her job as a Wells Fargo stockbroker on Monday morning. Her purse, cell phone, and car were all left at home.

At first, police thought the entire family was missing until Josh arrived home with the kids -- ages 1 and 4 -- on Tuesday. He claimed the reasons for the last minute camping trip was test out a new generator. But according to friends, the couple had been having marital problems.

Friends say Susan wasn't the kind of woman who'd just take off. But they also say Josh's behavior has been surprisingly unworried since his wife went missing.

'They've had problems for a very long time and that's very obvious when you spend a short time with them, you can tell ... they're roommates,' says friend Tim Peterson.

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Police may not be buying Josh's story about an impromptu midnight camping trip with the couple's two young sons.

Josh told him it was normal for him to take the kids on impromptu camping trips in the middle of the night. But when Peterson talked to him, Josh showed more interest in discussing himself than his missing wife.

'I told him if my wife came up missing, I'd be going nuts, I'd be out looking for her. What do you think?' Peterson said. 'He's like, the cops are handling all that... He was talking about his kids, about his clothes, about his sleep. He was talking about his van that police took. He was talking about his house -- talking like, I wonder if my bird is dead.'

Both friends and family say it wasn't unusual for Josh to take off at a moment's notice with the kids, but his version of events leaves something to be desired.

He claims he didn't show up for work Monday because he thought it was Sunday. He allegedly took the kids camping about 120 miles from their home. Police searched the area and found no sign of Susan, but fresh snow covered any indication that someone had been camping there.

Still, it's hard to believe a dad would take kids ages 1 and 4 camping in the middle of the night, especially when temperatures are falling to below zero in the area. And since Josh claims he wanted to test out a new generator, he doesn't sound like the kind of camper who's into roughing it in bad conditions.

Friends say the couple was having marital problems. Two years ago, they filed for bankruptcy in what appears to be a dual case of overspending and unemployment.

Both have been periodically jobless in the past. And it seems money woes forced Susan to give up being a fulltime homemaker and go back to work. She was a stay-at-home mom when they filed for bankruptcy in 2007. At that time, Josh's profession was listed as realtor.

But they owed more than $200,000 in credit card, furniture, student loan and other debts, suggesting they were living well beyond their means for such a young family with two small kids.

'I don't see him as capable of harming her,' Susan's father Charles Cox of Puyallup told the Salt Lake Tribune. 'I'm kind of concerned that all the focus is on him.'

He said it wasn't unusual for his daughter to go to bed at that time, nor was it particularly weird that Josh took the boys camping in the middle of the night. Cox says his son-in-law has a habit of losing track of time and acting on the spur of the moment.

But asked point-blank if he believes Josh's story, and he only responded, 'I don't know.'

'Yeah, it may sound weird to a lot of people but let's not stop looking for my daughter,' he said. 'The more time spent on him, the less time there is looking at other possibilities, and there certainly are other possibilities.'

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Friends say the couple's relationship was strained by financial troubles, including $200,000 in credit card debt and a 2007 bankruptcy filing.
But Josh isn't helping his case.

According to the ABC, Josh didn't show up for a scheduled interview with West Valley City detectives on Tuesday. Instead, he hired prominent attorney Scott Williams, who recently represented Elizabeth Smart kidnapper Wanda Barzee.

Why a broke father of two, who filed for bankruptcy just two years ago, would need a high-priced lawyer is anyone's guess. Aside from getting people off, these guys' greatest skill is getting in your pocket. And why does an innocent man need a lawyer in the first place?

Then again, it's not unusual for big-name lawyers to take high-profile cases for free. It could be that Williams is simply in it for the advertising and ego feed.

But police are also saying that someone tried to clean up the house around the time Susan disappeared. When they first thought the entire family was missing, cops broke into the Powell home fearing carbon monoxide poisoning.

They found two fans blowing on a wet spot on the living room carpet. This could have been just a spill created by one of the kids, which wouldn't be unusual. It also could mean someone didn't want them finding something.

In the meantime, Josh has officially been declared a person of interest for his lack of cooperation.

Yes, most of these kinds of labels are meaningless, but it shows police frustration.Thus far they seemed to be treating him with kid gloves, at least in the press, despite his goofy camping story. But it's never a good sign when you're wife's gone missing and you show little interest in helping police find her.

As Assistant Chief Craig Black told Fox News, 'We've been interested in what Josh has had to say all along... I wouldn't characterize him (Joshua) as being cooperative.'"

The Times reports that Susan's family will hold a press conference in Seattle today. We'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: Josh showed up to the Puyallup prayer vigil wit the couple's 4-year-old son Charlie. But he didn't talk to Susan's family.

UPDATE: Josh reportedly drove his rental car hundreds of miles in a 24-hour period.

But he won't tell police where he went. And since the car had no GPS, police are left with no idea of his whereabouts. Just more suspicion that he's not telling them everything he knows.

UPDATE: Susan's friends have been handing over notes and e-mails from as far back as last summer that portray a woman who feared her husband.

Susan had warned that Josh might kidnap their children, file for divorce or worse. She was setting up alternate bank accounts so he couldn't steal her money and had written an informal will, just in case.

Police have confiscated a journal she kept at work detailing the threats against her. And one of her coworkers said she once found a chilling note written by Susan that described how she'd never commit suicide. She had written it, says the coworker, so that her boys would know their mom would never desert them should she ever disappear.

 
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