WEST VALLEY CITY — As police continued collecting and analyzing evidence Friday in the disappearance of Susan Powell, at least one friend of her husband was speaking out in support of him.
Wayne Hamberg says the media shouldn't convict Josh Powell despite circumstantial evidence and apparent distance growing between Susan Powell's family and her husband.
"There is nobody being nice to him," Hamberg said. "Everyone is treating him like a Mark Hacking or Scott Peterson."
Hacking was convicted of killing his wife, Lori Hacking, in Utah in 2004. Peterson was convicted of the 2002 murder of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson. Both men originally professed their innocence and even gave TV interviews while crews searched for their missing spouses.
Susan Powell was last seen Dec. 6 at her house, 6254 W. Sarah Circle. Her husband told police he went camping about midnight that night with his two sons, ages 2 and 4, in a remote part of Tooele County along the Pony Express Trail. He failed to show up to work the next day.
When he returned home about 5 p.m. on Dec. 7, his wife was missing.
Police have interviewed Josh Powell three times but say he will not answer specific questions, such as exactly where he went camping. Investigators took samples of his DNA Tuesday. West Valley Police Capt. Tom McLachlan confirmed Friday that DNA samples also had been taken from other people. Police would not confirm, however, whether those samples were taken from other family members.
Thursday, Josh Powell's brother-in-law Kirk Graves said he wouldn't be surprised if Josh was arrested within the next seven days. Susan Powell's family said they were saddened but not surprised that her husband was named a person of interest by police.
Hamberg is Josh Powell's friend and also knows him through a computer club. He said Josh Powell was at his house as recently as Tuesday. Hamberg has seen the interviews on TV in which many have said Josh Powell seems to be aloof, distant or even evasive when answering questions.
Hamberg, however, doesn't see his friend as being evasive.
"Everyone has beaten on him so badly, including his family. He's on functional shutdown," Hamberg said. "He's emotionally shook up. The only thing he's holding on to is his kids."
Hamberg said Josh Powell "felt so overwhelmed that he needed help," which is why he hired defense attorney Scott Williams. But he does not believe that is an admission of guilt.
"I don't know if he has anything to hide. I told him, 'Don't tell me anything. Don't talk to me (about Susan Powell's disappearance),' " he said. "He was so distraught; he could either be completely overwhelmed or ridden with guilt. I'd like to believe he's innocent."68 comments on this story
Hamberg said Josh Powell is a very talented computer engineer but felt he was underappreciated at work.
"To do a 'blue flu' and miss a day wouldn't surprise me," he said of Josh Powell's reason for not showing up to work Monday.
Hamberg admitted the Powells had problems like any other couple, but he never saw indications of any domestic violence or signs that there were serious problems.
Police returned to the Powells' home Thursday to execute a second search warrant. Detectives did not disclose what, if anything, was taken from the house.