A short time after Chaffee County, Colorado authorities provided their first press statements on the arrest of 53-year-old Barry Morphew in the alleged murder of his wife Suzanne Morphew, the sheriff’s office released the first image of the suspect behind bars.
Suzanne Morphew, a 49-year-old mother of two from Salida, was reported missing by a neighbor on May 10, 2020 after she did not return home from a bike ride. It was Mother’s Day. Just seven days after that, the suspect sat down to record a video pleading for his wife’s safe return.
“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. We love you. We miss you. The girls need you. No questions asked. However much they want, I will do whatever it takes to get you back. Honey, I love you. I want you back so bad,” he said.
Now, just under a year later, Barry Morphew faces charges of first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and attempting to influence a public servant.
At a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said Morphew was “taken into custody near his home.” Morphew was alone at the time of his arrest and was taken into custody without incident. Spezze thanked dozens of law enforcement officials from Chaffee County, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI for their efforts in investigating this case. Spezze said that authorities executed more than 135 search warrants and interviewed more than 400 people in multiple states.
In early April, the results of the investigation were presented to the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
DA Linda Stanley and her office reviewed the case and made the decision to move forward, the sheriff said.
“I know how deeply this case has impacted our community,” Sheriff Spezze said.
DA Stanley also credited law enforcement for working day in and day out on this case.
“They never quit,” she said.
Stanley was asked by a reporter how the public could have confidence that there is a strong case against Barry Morphew if authorities wouldn’t release the affidavit against him.
“I wouldn’t bring charges unless I was confident,” Stanley responded.
Barry Morphew is being held at the Chaffee County detention facility, the sheriff said. Morphew is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Mountain Time. He has retained a lawyer.
Asked about the alleged cause of death, DA Stanley said: “Without the body, we would not be able to say that publicly.”
“We believe that [Suzanne] is not alive,” the sheriff added.
Reporters were frustrated by how little information Stanley and Spezze provided after this major development in the year-long case. Authorities promised a news release would soon follow that included a mugshot. That’s what happened. The news release repeated much of the same basic information that was given at the presser:
Barry Morphew, the husband of Suzanne Morphew, was taken into custody without incident by Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office deputies at approximately 9:15 a.m., near his home in Poncha Spring on Highway 50. He is being held at the Chaffee County Detention Facility without bond. A mugshot of Morphew is attached to this news release.
Morphew’s first court date will be the advisement where any bond arguments will be heard. That hearing will be held at the Chaffee County Courthouse at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 6. The arrest warrant is sealed at this time.
The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and its partners have spent thousands of hours in the effort to locate the mother of two who went missing on May 10, 2020.
More than 70 investigators from the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and dozens of local law enforcement agency partners have provided their expertise on this case, executed more than 135 search warrants across Colorado, and have interviewed more than 400 individuals in multiple states. The team has also investigated more than 1,400 tips generated from within and outside of law enforcement.
In Sept. 2020, Jeffrey Puckett, a man who was hired to do contracting work for Barry Morphew, told Fox 21 News that a Holiday Inn room in Broomfield — which Barry paid for him to stay in the weekend Suzanne disappeared — reeked of “chlorine.”
“I got there Sunday night and the room smelled like chlorine real bad,” he said. “It was his room and he’d taken a shower — his towels were all over the floor.”
Puckett said he also found mail addressed to Barry Morphew in a trash can inside the room.
“My first thought was, ‘alibi.’ When I found the mail the next morning, just kinda looked like an alibi,” Puckett said.
Barry Morphew denied that there was any foul play and said that Puckett had done prison time in the past.
“I didn’t do nothing wrong in the hotel. There’s cameras all over that place. I did nothing wrong,” Morphew said. He then suggested the room may have smelled like chlorine because the hotel was taking extra cleaning precautions due to COVID-19.
“I smelled it too when I was in there,” he said.
Puckett recalled Morphew leaving the hotel in a hurry, citing a family emergency.
[Image via Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office]
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