His voice raspy and his eyes on the verge of spilling tears, Barry Morphew made a desperate plea last May for the safe return of his wife, Suzanne, who had been missing for a week after not returning from a Mother’s Day bike ride.
“Oh Suzanne, if anyone is out there that can hear this, that has you, please, we’ll do whatever it takes to bring you back. ... No questions asked. However much they want. I will do whatever it takes to get you back,” he said in the video posted on Facebook. “Honey, I love you. I want you back so bad.”
On Wednesday, just shy of a year since Suzanne’s disappearance, the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office announced an arrest in the case: Her husband, Barry.
Although police have yet to locate Suzanne’s body, Barry, 53, was charged with first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and attempting to influence a public servant.
“Today is a good day,” said 11th Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley at a news conference on Wednesday. “Today is a good day for Suzanne, as far as I’m concerned today is all about Suzanne, and it’s about her family, and it’s about all the individuals that knew her, loved her, and cared about her.”
The news marks a significant development in a case that has gripped a county of about 20,000 in central Colorado. The year-long investigation involved more than 70 officers from the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI, in addition to dozens of other local law enforcement agencies, according to Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze.
“We’ve executed more than 135 search warrants across Colorado,” Spezze said at the news conference. “We’ve interviewed more than 400 individuals in multiple states. Our team has also investigated more than 1,400 tips generated from within and outside of law enforcement.”
The investigation into Suzanne’s disappearance began on May 10, 2020, when a neighbor reported the 49-year-old mother of two missing after she didn’t return from a bike ride. Her husband said he was away from their home in Maysville, Colo., on a work trip that day.
The sheriff’s office quickly called a search-and-rescue team and scoured the area for Suzanne. The following day, more than 100 searchers found nothing.
Days later, police found Suzanne’s bicycle along with unidentified “personal items,” KCNC reported at the time. But law enforcement did not provide any further details.
While investigators stayed largely quiet throughout the year-long investigation, Barry spoke to local media a handful of times, largely to defend himself.
“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 in an interview with KXRM last August. He went on say that law enforcement “completely destroyed the evidence” when they found the bike.
Weeks later, Jeffrey Puckett, a contractor Barry hired to assist him on his business trip during the weekend Suzanne went missing, told KXRM that he noticed that Barry’s hotel room reeked of chlorine. He added that the bed was still made the next morning, as if no one had slept in it, and said he had found a letter addressed to Barry in the trash.
“When I found the mail the next morning, just kind of looked like an alibi,” Puckett said.
In response to the accusations, Barry told KDVR that he had also noticed a strong chlorine smell in the motel, but claimed it must have been from the hotel’s cleaning supplies. A hotel manager, though, said they do not use chlorine in their cleaning products and that their pool was closed due to pandemic restrictions.
“I love my wife. I would never hurt my wife,” Barry said. “She is the light of my and my daughters’ lives. This whole thing is killing us.”
In early April, the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office along with other investigators presented their case against Barry to the district attorney’s office.
Police arrested Barry near his new home in Poncha Springs, Colo., at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, according to law enforcement. He is being held at the Chaffee County Detentions Center without bond. It is unclear who is representing him. He is due in court at 10:30 a.m. local time on Thursday.
At a news conference on Wednesday announcing the arrest, Stanley, the district attorney, said the affidavit will remain sealed since the case is ongoing as authorities continue to search for Suzanne’s body.
“For my office, this is where the work begins,” Stanley said. “There’s more work to be done. However, this is an important and incredibly crucial step.”
Spezze, the sheriff, confirmed it is “our belief is that Suzanne is not alive.”
“Today is not the day for celebration, nor does it mark the end of this investigation,” Spezze said. “Rather it’s the next step in this very difficult, yet very important journey, as we seek justice for Suzanne and her family.”
In an interview with KDVR on Wednesday, Suzanne’s sister, Melinda Moorman, said she was relieved to hear the news of Barry’s arrest.
“I’m just so grateful for law enforcement,” Moorman said. “They have fought the fight for her and today justice is beginning for my sister.”