WEST VALLEY CITY — Police say weather hampered their search of the location where the husband of a missing West Valley woman says he took the couple's young sons camping on the night she was last seen.
Josh Powell told investigators he decided to take his sons, ages 2 and 4, camping in the Simpson Springs area of Tooele County about midnight on Sunday, said West Valley Police Capt. Tom McLachlan. Powell said that was the last time he saw his wife, Susan Powell.
"We went out that way to see if we could find any physical evidence that would indicate that he had been there, to verify his statement to us," McLachlan said Friday. "Unfortunately, the weather didn't really cooperate, and there's been a snowstorm between when he went out there and when we went out there.
"Tire tracks, evidence of recent use of a fire pit was all covered in snow," the captain said. "So we could not determine whether he had or had not been there."
Police are continuing to call the woman's disappearance "very suspicious." However, McLachlan declined to comment on Josh Powell's behavior during the past five days.
"He has been cooperative with us," the captain said. "I am not going to offer an opinion on what I think his conduct is."
McLachlan said detectives continue to process items collected when they served a search warrant late Wednesday on the Powell home, 6254 Sarah Circle. Those items include various pieces of furniture that police intend to submit for forensic testing.
While he wouldn't go into specifics, McLachlan said Susan Powell "left items at the house that you would normally associate if you were going on a trip or going somewhere." Susan Powell's father, Chuck Cox, said his daughter's purse and cell phone were still at the home.
Police have focused their efforts on the home because it was the last place Susan Powell was seen, McLachlan said. An endangered-person alert was issued Monday, but police have heard nothing as a result of the alert.
Josh Powell told the Deseret News he returned home Monday night after the trip to Tooele County to find a front window had been broken out. He said his wife wasn't home, but he didn't notice anything odd.
McLachlan confirmed that police had broken the window to enter the home, worried the Powells might have been poisoned by carbon monoxide. Officers had responded to the home after family members had reported that they could not reach the Powells and that Josh Powell and Susan Powell had both missed work Monday without calling their employers.
"The amount of information we have does not allow us to rule out any of the possible outcomes in this case," McLachlan said. "We have to work every one of those as if that's a potential outcome."
During a candlelight vigil held Thursday, Susan Powell's co-worker, Amber Hardman of Layton, was one of 100 people to attend. She said she and Susan Powell were "very close."
"I was there for her when she had her kids, and she was there for me," Hardman said. "She loves her kids so much. Pictures are posted all over her desk."
Hardman said when she first learned the Powell family was missing, she hoped they had simply gone for a drive and were somewhere safe and warm. Then when Josh Powell and the couple's children turned up but Susan Powell did not, Hardman began to worry.
"We still have hope. That's all we can do," she said. "I can still see her smiling face."
McLachlan said police plan to interview Josh Powell for a third time. The captain did not know when that interview would take place.
"This is still a missing-persons case," McLachlan said. Authorities still do not know whether Susan Powell simply decided to leave home on her own or is the victim of foul play, he said.
Anyone with information about Susan Powell should call the West Valley police at 801-840-4000.
Contributing: Lana Groves
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org TWITTER: GeoffLiesik