(SALIDA, Colo.) — It’s been three years since one Colorado mother, Suzanne Morphew, went missing, but, many people are not ready to give up yet.
A remembrance ceremony was held on Saturday, May 13, near Morphew’s hometown of Salida. There, the community is aiming to keep the memory of her alive while also continuing to call for justice. Around 25 people showed up to the ceremony that was held at the Poncha Town Hall.
“The case was just put on the cold case. Just because it’s put on the cold case, doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop,” said Tisha Leewaye, the organizer of Morphew’s remembrance ceremony.
Morphew was last seen on Mother’s Day, May 10, of 2020, in her hometown of Salida.
“Now it’s really about just finding justice, and who did this, and where she is, so she can have a proper burial if that’s what it’s going to come down to,” said Leewaye who was wearing a shirt that said #JusticeforSuzanne.
Members of the original search party three years ago, spoke at the ceremony, recalling what it was like, day after day.
“We’d search all day long… And at the end of the day, I’d go back to my car and cry. Because we didn’t find anything,” said Denise Juarez, tearing up at those memories.
This remembrance ceremony comes after a lawsuit that was filed last week, on May 2, by Morphew’s husband, Barry Morphew. He was originally charged with the disappearance and murder of his wife, but the charges were dropped during a pre-trial hearing in April 2022.
The civil rights lawsuit against Chaffee County, the prosecution, and several others, asks for $15 million in damages. In the 185-page lawsuit, Morphew claims his rights were violated when he was arrested for a crime he alleges he did not commit.
“That to me, put Barry in the spotlight. And that’s why this is where we’re at. This is why we’re doing this. We’ve got to keep Suzanne in the spotlight,” said Leewaye.
People at the ceremony got emotional, while organizers played audio messages sent in from Morphew’s family. Morphew’s sister, Melinda Balzer, thanked the community for continuing to show up.
“She remains the victim of this crime until justice is served for her, and for the community in which she lived,” said Balzer.
The group released butterflies in Morphew’s honor, and in hopes that justice will one day be served. The envelopes that held the monarch butterflies read #shinebrightforSuzanne.
“Like the butterflies being released in memory of my sister, may they remind us that transformation, freedom, and change are possible as we wait and hope for justice and shine bright for Suzanne. I love you Suzanne, your sis, Melinda,” said Balzar, at the end of her audio message.