On May 10, 2020 around 5:45 the Chaffee County Communications Center received a report of a missing female in the area on County Road 225 and West Highway 50.Members of the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area and contacted the reporting party.They advised that their neighbor, Suzanne Morphew (49), from the Maysville area had reportedly gone for a bike ride in the area and failed to return home. Sheriff personnel called members of Chaffee County Search and Rescue South and North and a search began immediately. The Department of Corrections was contacted and a request was made for tracking dogs to assist. They responded and joined the search. The search continued into the early morning hours with no results.
The search resumed in the early morning hours of May 11 with Search and Rescue. They once again scoured the area. Members were then called from the Chaffee County Tac Team along with search parties from the Department of Corrections and the area was once again scoured.
In all over 100 personnel were used during the search, however by late afternoon on May 11 Ms Morphew had not been found. Suzanne’s family is now offering a 200,000 reward for any info about Suzanne’s disappearance.
A relative told Fox news at the time that Suzanne’s bike had been recovered on the day she was last seen – with no sign of Suzanne.
We got a small inkling that may not all was as it seemed when Sheriff John Spezze asked on May 17 that Chaffee County residents save any video footage from doorbell cameras, surveillance system or game cameras from the May 8 to May 12 time frame.
On May 17, her husband, Barry Morphew, posted a video on Facebook pleading for whoever took Suzanne to bring her back.
“Oh Suzanne, if anyone is out there and can hear this, that has you, please, we’ll do whatever it takes to bring you back. We love you, we miss you, your girls need you,” Barry said in the video. “No questions asked, however much they want – I will do whatever it takes to get you back. Honey, I love you, I want you back so bad.”
In the ten days to May 20 following Suzanne’s disappearance, there were approximately 200 tips called into the tipline.
The Chafee County Sheriff issued a press release about the case on May 20:
To clarify media reports about the Morphew residence, the house continues to be held by law enforcement during this open investigation through a search warrant that has been sealed by the court. According to Sheriff John Spezze, it is not unusual in these types of investigations to start at the home and extend outward, in an effort to seek clues surrounding the disappearance. The Morphew residence is just one of many areas of focus as part of this open investigation at this time.
The search for Suzanne carried on for months. In August 2020, (about 3 months after the disappearance), Barry spoke to a reporter at Fox 21.
During a 25-minute conversation, Barry theorized over what may have happened to his wife. He mentioned the possibility of an animal attack, an accident, perhaps, with someone on the road, or even, he said, a run-in with someone who knows her well.
He said he did not want the conversation to be aired and also implied that he been painted in a negative way during the investigation.
“I am afraid of what is out there,” he said. “People don’t know the truth, so they’re gonna think what they’re gonna think.”
“This is the most devastating thing that has ever happened to me,” Barry explained. “But I have got to keep my faith and trust in God. And Suzanne trusted the Lord and if one person got saved from this, she would think it was worth it. And we are just a Godly, loving, caring, family and this thing is just a tragedy.”
Suzanne’s family told the media that Barry had been asked twice to take a polygraph test and he declined. But Barry denied this:
“I’ve never been asked to do a polygraph,” Barry said. “There is nothing that I am hiding. I have given three – 30 hours of testimony to the FBI and the CBI. I’ve answered every question. Every single question.”
In August 2020, Barry spoke to the media and criticized the police handling of Suzanne’s case.
“The Sheriff’s Department screwed this whole thing up from the beginning and now they are trying to cover it up and blame it on me,” he said. He went on to cite an incident he found particularly troubling, which occurred, he said, when deputies found his wife’s bike.
“My buddy was there right after that, and he said that they completely destroyed the evidence, and he tried to stop them, but they wouldn’t listen to him and said, ‘this is not CSI,’” Barry said. “There’s no evidence for the investigators to see because the Sheriff’s Department completely obliterated it.”
In September 2020, media articles gave some more information about Barry’s whereabouts at the time of Suzanne’s disappearance. He had been staying at a hotel in Denver, around 150 miles from their home.
Barry was working on a landscaping job for the transportation company RTD-Denver which was why he was away from home.
A co-worker, Jeff Puckett, claims Barry Morphew had summoned him to a Holiday Inn hotel room in Denver on May 10 where Morphew stayed the night before and left behind a pile of mail, as well as an intense smell of chlorine, according to the report.
He said he was told the landscaping work Morphew needed help with was urgent.
“I got there Sunday night and the room smelled like chlorine real bad,” Puckett, 49, of Salida, told the outlet. “It was his room and he’d taken a shower — his towels were all over the floor.”
A manager at the hotel, where rooms go for as little as $92, said workers do not use chlorine to clean rooms. Security footage from the hotel from the weekend of Morphew’s disappearance has since been turned over to FBI investigators, according to the report.
Puckett said he also discovered a letter about property insurance within a stack of mail inside the room.
“His mail was in there and I gave it to the FBI. I thought it was kind of odd to have it there. Some of it was from an insurance company, like insuring your property, that kind of thing,” Puckett said, adding that he also found no tools inside the hotel room.
He then claimed he waited around the hotel for two days for Morphew, without ever visiting the work site, and returned to Salida two days after Suzanne Morphew’s disappearance.
He has not heard from Barry Morphew — who told him he had to leave “due to a family emergency” — since that time, he told the Daily Mail.
“It’s kind of weird,” Puckett told DailyMail.com. “My first thought was that this must be like an alibi. That’s what it felt like.”
The reward fund for Suzanne reached $200k in September 2020. $100k of that allegedly came from Barry Morphew.
In late September 2020, Suzanne’s brother Andrew Moorman organised a private search for his sister.
“My sister was murdered,” Moorman said. “And she was hidden within a three-and-a-half-hour window. So that — I can draw a circle on that and tell you she’s within that circle. And that’s what I know happened.”
Andrew said they would not be digging during his planned search. Some volunteers supplied boats and SONAR equipment to search some lakes, as well as drones, search dogs and other tools.
“I’m out there to find my sister,” Moorman said. “I think everybody probably knows what happened. I’m literally just there to search — I need to find her, need to bring her home, give her a proper burial and closure for my family. And that’s my point. I’m not about finding somebody guilty or trying to inflict punishment on anyone. That’s not my job. That’s the law enforcement’s job.”
He said he’s extremely sad and misses his little sister, and his two nieces are worried and need closure about what happened to their mother. Morphew was a wonderful person, he said, and attended church every Sunday and beat low-grade lymphoma twice.
“My entire family has suffered for four months,” he said. “We’ve had enough. I stayed quiet as I was asked to. I bit my tongue for three months. Not doing it anymore. I’m coming out there.”
Chaffee County Sheriff John A. Spezze released a press statement about Andrew’s planned search. He said their team is not able to coordinate or lead this search because of liability issues. However, they plan to support it in other ways, including:
- Staffing the sheriff’s office command post with liaison personnel to help search volunteers
- Search and rescue crews will remain on hand
- Crime scene team will remain available to document and collect any evidence found
- Case agents will remain on hand
Andrew said at this time that he did not believe that Suzanne ever went bike riding on the day she disappeared. He said the bike was found without damage at the bottom of a hill and there wasn’t any indication of a struggle. He added that dogs didn’t pick up her scent there.
“You couldn’t have ridden off that cliff without being severely hurt,” he said. “There certainly would have been evidence of injury at the bottom of that hill and there was none. So I believe the bike was picked up and thrown over the hill by human hands.”
Andrew told Fox31 Denver his sister was “working with domestic abuse meetings,” and added: “I’m afraid this is domestic abuse.”
The mudslinging continued by Barry. He told the media that Suzanne and Andrew did not have much of a relationship. And he proceeded to share some notes that Suzanne and he shared.
A letter allegedly written by Suzanne this past Valentine’s Day reads: ‘Just want you to know – my life would be nothing without your love and the excitement you bring to our marriage and my life. All my love – Suzanne.’
Another letter from Suzanne to Barry reads: ‘I remember the first kiss you gave me at my front door…. I remember the day you asked me to marry you when you gave me flowers at the pond… I remember the day you held me when I just found out I had cancer.’
The sweet note continues: ‘I remember the our wedding day and the way you made me feel so beautiful… I remember the day our girls were born… I remember the February nights in 2013 when I was so sick and couldn’t sleep. I remember all the beautiful and difficult times. We’ve had so many. You are my love 4ever’.
In October 2020, Barry put the house he shared with Suzanne in Colorado on the market for $1.75M.
He told CBS4 decided to sell of the home because Mallory and Macy are too scared to stay there because they believe it was the site of Suzanne’s abduction.
We also learned that in June 2020 (weeks after Suzanne’s disappearance), Barry purchased a 2 acre plot of land near Salida.
In November 2020, a private dive team joined the search for Suzanne.
Adventures with Purpose said that they ‘kept their search a secret’ because ‘there may have been a risk to our team being in the area’.
Police also marked the six months that Suzanne had been missing with a fresh appeal:
Despite “numerous searches, countless investigative interviews and hundreds of tips reported in this case,” the 49-year-old wife and mother of two daughters remains missing, as investigators continue to focus on her social media presence and believe “she kept in touch with friends she loved dearly,” Chaffee County Sheriff John A. Spezze said.
Spezze called on anyone who may have engaged with Morphew on Facebook, Instagram, Voxer, FaceTime or WhatsApp to come forward if they haven’t already been interviewed, “regardless of how insignificant you think the information may be, or whether you think investigators are already aware of it.”
Suzanne’s father Gene Moorman died at age 87 in November 2020.
Suzanne is noted in his obituary as being missing and presumed dead:
He was preceded in death by his parents, an infant brother, the mother of his children, Adrienne (Burnett) Owen, wife Lou Ann, and missing and presumed dead, daughter, Suzanne Morphew.
Barry was not included in the obit.
Suzanne’s case went fairly quiet this year. We did learn that in February, the 2 acres that Barry purchased in Salida were sold off. He owned the land for around 8 months and he made a $15k loss on the property.
News agencies have reported that that cadaver dogs picked up the scent of human remains during a search of the estate where that plot of land was located.
And in March this year, the Morphew family home sold after being on the market for around fives months. Barry had originally listed it for $1.75 and the sale price was $1.62m.
The buyer of the home is listed as as ‘Mountain Renewal’ – a Limited Liability Company from Nevada.
Barry and Suzanne’s names both appear as the sellers on the deed – meaning money from the sale is likely to be transferred into a joint account.
On Wednesday May 5, 2021, Barry Morphew was taken into custody in relation to his wife’s suspected murder. He was arrested on charges of first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and attempting to influence a public servant.
Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said Barry was “taken into custody near his home.” Barry was alone at the time of his arrest and was taken into custody without incident. Spezze thanked dozens of law enforcement officials from Chaffee County, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI for their efforts in investigating this case. Spezze said that authorities executed more than 135 search warrants and interviewed more than 400 people in multiple states.
Asked about the alleged cause of death, DA Stanley said: “Without the body, we would not be able to say that publicly.”
“We believe that [Suzanne] is not alive,” the sheriff added.
On May 17, more charges were made against Barry – a felony count of forgery and a misdemeanor count of offenses related to mail ballots. Barry allegedly submitted a vote for Trump on Suzanne’s behalf.
The county clerk immediately knew something strange was going on last fall. A mail ballot had arrived from Suzanne Morphew — a woman missing since May.
“There’s posters all over our town,” said Lori Mitchell, the clerk and recorder in Chaffee County, a Colorado community of about 20,000 rocked by Morphew’s disappearance last Mother’s Day. “Constant things in the news about her. There’s people at the grocery store passing out fliers.”
The ballot didn’t have Morphew’s signature as required, Mitchell said. But someone had signed on the “witness” line: The woman’s husband, Barry Morphew.
“I was stunned,” Mitchell recalled. “I couldn’t believe it. I was like, what in the world is going on?”
Barry echoed Trump’s false claims of election fraud as the motivation for his own alleged wrongdoing, according to an affidavit filed Thursday in court. The 53-year-old told FBI agents last month that he did it because “all these other guys are cheating” and said his wife would have backed Trump anyway.
“I just thought, give him another vote,” Barry allegedly said.
Barry told authorities he cast his wife’s vote “just because I wanted Trump to win,” according to the affidavit. He allegedly said he “didn’t know you couldn’t do that for your spouse.”
On May 18, 2021, even MORE charges were made in this case. The Chaffee County District Court added tampering with a deceased human body and possession of a dangerous weapon.
The preliminary hearing into the disappearance and suspected murder of Suzanne Morphew by her husband Barry began in August 2021. It ran for two days and will continue for another two days at the end of the month.
This is a summary of the first two days of the hearing:
The couple’s two teenage daughters attended the hearing.
On day one of the hearing, the first witness called was Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Alexander Walker. He said that Suzanne was reported missing by a neighbor on May 10, 2020 at 5:38 p.m. He tried to get in touch then with Barry and could not reach him. Walker did manage to get hold of one of the Morphew children and she told him that she had not received a response to a Mothers Day text that she had sent. Barry was able to be reached at about 7.10pm that night.
Suzanne’s bike was found on the side of the road on May 10 with no damage or signs of a struggle near/on it.
The court was shown body camera footage of officers speaking with Barry. Barry was upset and described how Suzanne bikes every day. He said he left for work at 5 a.m. when she was still sleeping. He’s also heard asking deputies if they’d seen any “cats” in the area — possibly referring to mountain lions — and the deputy says not recently.
Walker said the last activity on Suzanne’s phone was from 4:23 a.m. on May 10, 2020. Her phone pinged from a cell tower in
Poncha Springs, which is about 10 miles east of Maysville.
Barry spoke with police again on May 11. He said the couple had just had a great day and evening on May 9. He called Suzanne “his angel” since they were 17 years old and said they “love each other to death.” He called the relationship “very good.” They had been together 32 years.
Walker also said that the arrest affidavit for Barry is 129 pages long.
Barry was cooperative when his house became a crime scene, and his truck was picked up. He mentioned to deputies that Suzanne had been cleaning because the daughters’ friend was visiting, and Suzanne had changed the bed sheets for the friend.
Alexander Walker also confirmed that none of Suzanne’s blood was ever found in her home following her disappearance.
Walker confirmed that Suzanne got a spy pen because she suspected Barry was having an affair. He said there was no evidence of that. It was said that in some of the spy pen footage, you could hear her and Barry arguing about money. She was heard accusing him of telling her what she can do and what she can wear.
But when asked, he confirmed Suzanne had been having a two-year affair with a man named Jeff Libler. Suzanne originally met Jeff when they went to high school together and they hooked up at a party in 1989. They both went separate ways and married other people (I have read that Jeff has six children) and reconnected 20 years later.
Authorities didn’t learn about this affair until November 2020 — six months after Suzanne went missing. There were hundreds of hours of phone calls, WhatsApp messages and other communication. The two met up at least six times in New Orleans, Michigan, Texas, and Indiana, and she didn’t tell anybody about him, Walker confirmed.
Jeff did not voluntarily come forward to help find Suzanne, Walker said. Law enforcement first spoke with him on Nov. 13, 2020.
Jeff told police that Suzanne’s marriage was not good. The couple argued a lot, he said, and she repeatedly said she wanted to leave. However, she also said she couldn’t divorce Barry for “Biblical reasons.”
On May 8, 2020, Jeff messaged Suzanne saying, “You need to be my wife” and complimented her biking gear. The following morning, May 9, she texted him saying, “We need to be husband & wife.”
Part of Barry’s arrest affidavit was read out during the hearing. It is alleged that from 2:47 p.m. May 9 until 5:37 a.m. May 10, he took steps to dispose of evidence of Suzanne’s disappearance and death
Alexander Walker asked Barry during their May 11 interview about where he kept his guns. Walker said Barry told him they were in a safe, but Walker found a gun in a closet and a shotgun against a wall in the home.
Special Agent Harris was also questioned. He said that at one time, Barry put a gun to Suzanne’s head and asked, “Is this what you want?” He had also pinned her to the bed before. She said she’d call police.
Suzanne wanted to leave the marriage in 2019 and 2020, but also wanted to wait until their youngest daughter was out of the house.
On day two, Jonathan Grusing, a retired FBI agent, testified about the movement of Barry Morphew’s cell phone and truck on May 9 and 10.
In the early-morning hours of May 10, a few hours before Barry left for work in Broomfield around 5 a.m., his truck doors opened and closed between 3:25 a.m. and 3:51 a.m., signifying someone was in the truck. Around the same time, his phone’s location moved to near where his wife’s bicycle would later be found, Grusing said — though he added that service in the area meant the information was inconclusive. Suzanne Morphew’s phone, which has still not been found, last pinged at 4:23 a.m., he added.
Barry’s phone went into airplane mode around 4:31 a.m., the court was told, and pinged again just after 5:30 a.m. as Morphew was turning at Buena Vista as he headed toward Broomfield. He would text his mother a happy Mother’s Day a minute later, and just before 7 a.m., texted Suzanne to ask if she was awake yet. “Happy Mother’s Day. I love you,” he added, according to testimony.
Grusing said the data from the phone and truck, along with surveillance video, showed Barry going on five trash runs in Broomfield that day – throwing things away at an RTD bus stop, a hotel where he checked in, a McDonald’s, a Men’s Warehouse and in another trash can near the Holiday Inn he’d checked in to.
Barry gave conflicting stories to investigators about what he was throwing away. At the Men’s Warehouse, he spent 40 minutes in the parking lot.
Testimony also showed Tuesday that Barry did not leave his Broomfield hotel room between about 12:42 p.m. and 5:55 p.m. that day, despite telling a neighbor when they talked around 5:15 p.m. on May 10 that he was at the job site working, prosecutors said.
Suzanne sent the last known photo of her alive to Jeff at 2:03 p.m. on Saturday, May 9. When investigators talked to Barry about the photo, he told them that Suzanne appeared to be drunk.
Suzanne was sending sunbathing photos of herself to Jeff right when Barry got home around 2:44 p.m. on May 9. His phone pings appear to show him running around the house, Grusing said, and he told investigators in February of this year he was shooting chipmunks at that time, though his phone went into airplane mode about 3 minutes after his arrival, while Suzanne’s phone was still receiving messages from Jeff.
The affidavit states that there is an opinion that Barry was “most likely chasing Suzanne around” when he got home.
The court also heard testimony that Suzanne’s Facebook codes were reset later that night and her account friend requested 23 of her old friends, 20 of them men. Barry denied doing this.
Police looked into Jeff’s movements at the time Suzanne disappeared and confirmed that he was in Michigan.
Barry was also looking for other women to date, – his computer had deleted web history that included Ashley Madison searches and a search for “cute girls” in the Salida area. He had also texted Suzanne about suicidal thoughts two days before she was reported missing.
The hearing continued in late August.
Former FBI agent Jonathan Grusing was cross examined. He testified that surveillance from the hotel in Broomfield, where Barry stayed, it did not appear that he was carrying a body. Dogs, looking for signs of human remains, did a search of his truck and did not detect anything.
This is the same agent who says Barry asked for immunity, but the defense pointed out this was only after he watched YouTube videos which said, “Don’t talk, do not, because they will use it against you.”
Earlier in the preliminary hearing, a former FBI agent revealed they found a tranquilizer dart cap in the dryer in the family’s home. On Monday, the investigator clarified that it was a needle sheath for a tranquilizer dart gun. He said that Barry Morphew shoots deer with the tranquilizer darts and then cuts off their antlers, which doesn’t kill the deer.
There were also new witnesses in court, including a sheriff’s deputy who stated that while there were empty tranquilizer darts in Morphew’s gun safe, it appeared to him that the gun not only had not been used in some time, but that it didn’t work.
At the end of the four day preliminary hearing, Barry’s defense team told the court that they did not believe prosecutors proved the “proof was evident” nor the “presumption great” enough to convict Barry. They pleaded with the judge to make a ruling on this immediately so their client wouldn’t have to sit in jail, but the judge declined.
Judge Patrick Murphy explained he had heard more than 20 hours of witness testimony and had 25 pages of notes to go through before deciding if there was enough evidence to proceed to trial. He said he believes there were more witnesses called in this case than any other preliminary hearing he has presided over.
The Judge said he would make a decision on trial by Sept. 17, at which time he would hold a public hearing to explain his decision, scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
SEPTEMBER 17 UPDATE
A judge decided today that there was enough evidence in this case to send Barry to trial. Barry was granted bail at $500,000 cash only. The judge ordered Barry to have no contact with multiple people involved in the case. Barry entered a not guilty plea as his trial is scheduled to start May 3, 2022.
Barry has to surrender his passport and won’t be able to travel or reside outside of Chaffee County, with the exception of same-day travel to Denver to meet with attorneys, according to Judge Murphy. He will also have to wear an ankle monitor.
Discuss Suzanne’s case at TrueCrimeSociety.com