CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. — The husband of Suzanne Morphew, a Chaffee County mother who was reported missing on Mother’s Day weekend of last year, has been arrested.
Barry Morphew is charged with first-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence, and attempt to influence a public servant.
Although Suzanne Morphew’s body has not yet been recovered, Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said Wednesday, “Our belief is that Suzanne is not alive at this time.”
Barry Morphew, 53, was arrested without incident around 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, near his home in Poncha Springs, Spezze said.
“My first reaction is relief,” said Melinda Moorman, Suzanne’s sister. “And grateful. I’m just so grateful.”
Moorman said Sheriff Spezze called her this morning, shortly after her brother-in-law was taken into custody. She is thankful, she said, for law enforcement’s “tireless” work throughout this investigation.
Eleventh Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley declined to elaborate on whether investigators have identified the cause of Suzanne’s death.
“At this time, without the body, we wouldn’t be able to say that publicly,” Stanley said. “We do have information that led us to this point today, and how we think certain scenarios have occurred, but as we investigate further, that may change. So at this time, I can’t comment.”
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One of Barry Morphew’s employees told FOX21 they watched as he was taken into custody Wednesday morning at one of his job sites in Chaffee County. Morphew works in construction.
“Today, justice is beginning for my sister,” Moorman said, as her voice broke. “It’s been a journey that no one ever imagines that they’ll take.”
Through tears, Moorman said she still loves her brother-in-law, “though he’s done a terrible thing.”
Spezze said investigators executed more than 135 search warrants, interviewed more than 400 people, and investigated more than 1,400 tips about the case. His department presented its findings to the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in April, he said.
Throughout the nearly year-long investigation into his wife’s disappearance, Morphew has maintained his innocence.
“Honey, I love you and I want you back so bad,” Barry said last year in a video posted online.
Although he declined in-person interview requests, Barry Morphew did speak with FOX21’s Lauren Scharf on the phone, several months into the search for his wife. During that call, he theorized over what may have happened to Suzanne, mentioning the possibility of an animal attack, an accident with someone on the road, or a run-in with another person.
A store manager at the Poncha Market recalled what she described as a “weird” encounter with Morphew, just a few days after Suzanne was reported missing.
“Somebody knocked on the window and it was Barry Morphew,” Tiffany Butala said, at the time.
She said Morphew created a sort-of missing poster, regarding Suzanne, on the back of a receipt.
“He went to write down a description of maybe what she was wearing,” Butala said. “I just thought it was weird because he didn’t explain what the color of her eyes were or her hair or anything about her, like how tall she was or anything.”
“I want the world to know that my sister was the darling of our family,” Moorman told FOX21 Wednesday. “She was the rose among thorns. That’s what I used to call her.”
Spezze said investigators do not expect to make any more arrests in the case.
Morphew is being held in the Chaffee County jail. His first court appearance is set for Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
The warrant for his arrest has been sealed by a Chaffee County judge, for the time being.