CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. — For the first time since Barry Morphew’s arrest last year, the public is able to see in-color photos of evidence from the investigation into the murder of his wife, Suzanne Morphew.
The Chaffee County woman was reported missing on Mother’s Day of 2020. Nearly a year later on May 5, 2021, Barry Morphew was arrested and charged with her murder. He has maintained his innocence from the beginning.
This week, Chaffee County Judge Ramsey Lama, who’s presiding over the case, ordered the release of certain exhibits – including video, photos, data, and audio – which were all presented to the court during the preliminary hearing.
Included in the exhibits released are text messages sent from Suzanne to a friend in which she confided about problems at home; photos of Morphew’s various weapons; tranquilizer dart materials found in the couples’ home; GPS data points from Morphew’s truck and phone; photos of the inside of the Morphews’ vehicles; and screenshots from Broomfield Hotel surveillance footage.
When Suzanne was initially reported missing, it was believed she had gone on a bike ride and never returned. Those details were provided by Morphew to his neighbors, Martin and Gene Ritter, prompting them to alert authorities.
Suzanne’s bike was found the same day she was reported missing on Sunday, May 10, 2020. Her bike helmet was found four days later, less than a mile from where her bike had been discovered, off of Highway 50.
Suzanne, who had recently started mountain biking, would typically wear sunglasses, her bike helmet, and her Camelbak. Interior photos of her car show Suzanne’s sunglasses, Camelbak, and purse on the passenger seat of her Range Rover.
The text messages sent from Suzanne’s phone to a friend paint a picture of a troubled home life. “Makes me wonder what the young me was thinking,” she wrote on April 2, 2020.
And those weren’t the only texts messages investigators uncovered. A text from May 6, 2020, on Morphew’s phone – that had been deleted – reveals, what FBI Agent Johnny Grusing believes, was a significant step, on Suzanne’s part, to leave her husband.
“I’m done,” she wrote. “I could care less what you’re up to and have been for years.”
Based off a theory presented by investigators in the arrest affidavit, prosecutors believe a tranquilizer dart may have been used in the commission of the alleged crime. Documents show tranquilizer dart material was found in the Morphew’s garage. The needle sheath cap was located inside the dryer.
Investigators believe Morphew shot Suzanne with a tranquilizer dart, chased her around the house before he allegedly killed her, then hid her body. However, the tranquilizer gun investigators found was not working. Morphew claims he uses the tranquilizer darts and gun to sedate deer and remove their antlers.
Morphew’s cell phone and digital forensics information from Morphew’s truck, both released in court documents, show his whereabouts during the week of Suzanne’s disappearance.
The photos below show pinpoints where his cell phone pinged around the house on Saturday, May 9. When F.B.I. agents asked Morphew why he’d been running around that way, he said he was shooting chipmunks.
The prosecution believes Morphew switched his phone to airplane mode on the day Suzanne was murdered. Investigators believe she was killed on May 9, the day before she was reported missing.
On May 9, Morphew replaced one of the blades on his Bobcat Skid-Steer Loader. Click here to view the telematic information of that equipment.
Also released were photos of Morphew’s hands and arm, which investigators believe show scratches Suzanne could have caused while trying to defend herself. Morphew says, instead, the scratches came from tree branches, and happened when he was out searching for his missing wife.
Photos taken inside the Morphews’ Maysville home reveal an unspent shell casing left next to their master bed, along with evidence of a cracked door frame in the same room. Additional photos show a bed, stripped of its sheets, in one of the daughter’s bedrooms.
And, one of the more unusual pieces of evidence – a spy pen, captured audio of conversations Suzanne had with Jeff Libler – a married father of six with whom she had an affair. The pen was found in the closet in the master bedroom. Libler was a high school friend of Suzanne’s. The investigation into her disappearance uncovered the two had an affair for two years after she moved to Colorado from Indiana.
Detectives didn’t learn who Libler was until more than six months after Suzanne disappeared.
On the day Suzanne was reported missing, Morphew had checked into a Broomfield hotel, 150 miles away from their home. He was there, he’s said, for a construction job on a retaining wall nearby. Snapshots of surveillance footage captured Morphew bringing loads of items into his hotel room – he’s also seen wearing different shirts when he enters and exits his room that day.
Photos from the investigation show Morphew also made several trash runs that day at multiple locations.
Morphew left the job site when he, and the couples’ daughters, couldn’t reach Suzanne to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. Morphew returned to their home to find, what became, a massive search effort.
Morphew is now facing a charge of first-degree murder, as well as:
- Tampering with a deceased human body
- Tampering with physical evidence
- Possession of a dangerous weapon – short rifle
- Attempt to influence a public servant
- Forgery of Public Records
- Misdemeanor Elections-mail ballot offense
He is currently out of jail on a $500,000 bond. He must reside in Chaffee County, but he can visit his daughters during the day in Gunnison, and his attorneys in Denver.
The murder trial is scheduled for May of 2022. Suzanne’s body has still not been found.