Neighbors want answers two months into Chaffee County woman’s disappearance

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CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. — A mother-of-two disappeared during a bike ride, alone, in Chaffee County, according to a neighbor who reported her missing to the sheriff’s office there, on Mother’s Day.

49-year-old Suzanne Morphew hasn’t been seen since.

PART ONE: “You don’t just see beauty when Suzanne is around, you feel it”

The investigation team has said it continues to push forward on the case, all while keeping most of the updates under wraps. No arrests have been made in connection to Suzanne’s disappearance and, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, no searches for Morphew have been conducted since July 9.

In the days and weeks since Morphew was last seen, teal and yellow ribbons have been placed along the road that leads to her family’s property, a sobering reminder of Suzanne’s unexpected disappearance.

Neighbors in the tight knit community tell FOX21 they want more details from law enforcement.

“I’ve lived here 31 years now and, no, we’ve had river accidents, but nothing like this,” Mary Branson said.

Branson lives off of County Road 105 on the east side of Salida. Investigators set up camp in the area on May 21 and remained there for three days, looking for any sign of Suzanne. Branson and her sons told FOX21 the construction next door was one of Barry Morphew’s work sites. Barry is Suzanne’s husband.

Branson said investigators used tractors and special equipment that could see through the cement.

“[Investigators] had equipment; they were digging quite a few places,” Branson explained. “They had conferences, they had probably 10 to 20 people investigating. They searched the whole place. The garage – they had all cement on that and they tore, I think, almost half of that up. That was a big doing.”

Branson said while her memory is sharp, her hearing is going. She said that’s why the loud noise she heard, in the middle of the night on Mother’s Day Weekend, sticks out in her mind.

“At the very first I thought it was a truck or something maybe parked in my driveway or something, but no, it kept running and coming from the same direction over there, and I had been hearing all of this noise for quite a while,” she said.

“I thought it sounded like one of them running and I sat up in bed and said, ‘it is one of them, what’s going on, this time of night? That’s ridiculous.’ And I thought maybe they had orders to move it or something, so I laid there listening and it kept going and going and going for about a half an hour. And I finally got up to check and, as I opened the back door, it stopped. So I thought, maybe they are just moving something or whatever, and so I did not go out and investigate.”

Branson said she did ask the construction workers if they left keys in the equipment. She said the workers told her they did leave keys behind, but kept them hidden.

A 5,000 square foot home is under construction on the search site, and should be completed by January. FOX21 News reached out to the property owners, but did not hear back.

In late May, when investigators left the search site, they said they did not make a connection between the area and Suzanne’s disappearance. Since then, Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze has not said anything more about the search publicly.

“I keep wondering, like many others,” Branson added.

Tyson Draper is a YouTuber, who found himself in Maysville after visiting a friend nearby. He says he wanted to help in the search for Suzanne Morphew.

“I can’t believe how friendly people are here,” Draper said.

And, by chance, Draper wound up face to face with Barry Morphew.

The conversation was captured in a YouTube video. In it, Barry describes where Suzanne’s bike was found, off County Road 225 near their Maysville home, and the condition in which it was found.

“He said something was wrong with the front wheel and then he changed the subject and started saying something else,” Draper explained.

In the video, Barry also talks to Draper about where he was on the day his wife vanished.

“He was describing that, about having a job in Denver, and it’s very out of the ordinary for him,” Draper said.

During that exchange, however, Barry didn’t tell Draper if he had joined in on the search for his wife on June 1. However, Draper said he thinks he saw Barry searching the day before.

“He was wet, cold, and distraught. He looked like he was out searching or doing something,” Draper said.

The closest homes to the Morphew property are vacation rentals. All were unoccupied on the day she disappeared.

“I was quite shocked with how liberal he was with this information – giving one theory after another. And I was trying to process it all in, in the moment, like what is going on. And I don’t understand -why is he telling me all of this stuff? And I thought, at one point, he would just stop and say, ‘Who are you?’ And that was the gist of it – and what do you think, but he was just on a roll. And I didn’t say much,” Draper explained.

There are surveillance cameras in the area of the Morphew property. Deputies have asked people to save video around the date of May 10 – two days before and two days after, specifically.

As yet, investigators have not released any video or information about who saw Suzanne last.

“It’s kind of a passion of mine to help people, and to get out there and try and find clues and things like that,” Draper said.

FOX21 News asked Draper if Barry answered all of his questions. Draper said, ““Yes, absolutely. I felt like there was a trust there that he had, and that he was willing to talk – until I brought up some of the other cases in Colorado, like Patrick Frazee and Christopher Watts. Then it was kinda like, ‘whoa who is this guy? And what are you doing here again?’ He never really gave me a chance to say much, he was just telling me all about his theories of what could have happened.”

Detectives with the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office said they obtained a second search warrant to return to the Morphew property on July 9. However, they have not released any details on what they were looking for – or what was found.

“I hope she is found alive, we are going to hold out hope,” Draper said.

“Bless that whole family and everybody, and I hope they do get answers, ’cause that’s terrible.” Branson said.

The Morphew family has confirmed that Suzanne’s bike was found after her disappearance, no law enforcement agency has confirmed that fact.

Barry has only released a Facebook video a week after Suzanne’s disappearance. A plea from Suzanne’s husband, Barry was shared online exactly a week after she disappeared. A reward of $200,000 by family and friends of Suzanne Morphew has been offered for a safe return – no questions asked.

Sheriff Spezze said his office has not discounted any scenarios, nor has it formally eliminated anyone from suspicion.

To date the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office has collected more than 600 tips. The public is asked to continue to report any information about this case to the tipline by calling (719) 312-7530.

FOX21 has also given updates throughout the weeks with two retired law enforcement officers who share some of the principles of criminal investigations and profiling. The Profiling Evil team hopes its focus on Suzanne’s disappearance will empower others to contact law enforcement with any leads.

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