NewsCovering Colorado


Remains of Suzanne Morphew found, ending a three-year search for the missing woman

Posted at 3:05 PM, Sep 27, 2023

CHAFFEE COUNTY — Agents with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation have recovered the remains of a Salida woman who went missing on Mother's Day of 2020. The El Paso County Coroner's Office positively identified the remains Wednesday as Suzanne Morphew, 49.

Investigators located the human remains Friday while searching in the area of Moffat, Colorado in Saguache County on an unrelated investigation. Moffat is about 45 miles south of the Maysville area, where Suzanne was last seen.

According to a Bureau news release, specific information about the location and the state of the remains are being withheld at this time. No arrests have been made since the remains were located.

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“While this case has garnered attention from around the world, it has touched our community and the Sheriff’s office deeply,” said Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze in a news release. “We have never stopped our investigation and will continue to follow all leads in pursuit of justice for Suzanne.”

The CBI will not hold a news conference or give media interviews related to this development in this case.

“Although locating Suzanne’s remains is a critical component of this investigation, and for her family, we are left with many more questions than answers, and it would be a disservice to conduct a news conference at this time,” said Sheriff Spezze.

The public is asked to continue to report any information about this case by calling (719) 312-7530.

Suzanne Morphew's Disappearance and Husband's Arrest

Morphew was last seen on May 10, 2020, while going for a bike ride near her home in Salida. Her disappearance sparked several searches in the following months, including more than 135 search warrants executed by investigators.

Her husband Barry was arrested a year later and charged with first-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence, and an attempt to influence a public servant. According to the arrest affidavit filed for Barry Morphew in 2021, investigators claimed his wife took "clear, articulable steps in January 2020 in attempts to separate from and divorce her husband."

Prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss the case last April but kept open the possibility to re-file charges at a later date.

The prosecution listed two reasons for asking for the dismissal: First, that law enforcement said they believed they knew where Suzanne's body was located and they needed snow to melt to find her. Second, prosecutors said they feel that because the judge in the case ruled in 2022 that they could not call most of their expert witnesses at trial because of discovery violations, they would need to find Suzanne’s body to prove the case.

READ MORE: Barry Morphew released on bond; affidavit claims he fabricated stories surrounding wife’s disappearance

Pending Civil Rights Lawsuit

Barry Morphew filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking $15 million over his arrest and first-degree murder charge in 2021.

In the 185-page suit, Barry Morphew, who was arrested on charges of killing his wife Suzanne Morphew in 2020 before the prosecution asked to dismiss the case in April 2022, claims his Constitutional rights were violated by the defendants. He claims that his arrest affidavit included false and misleading information and as a result, he was wrongly held in jail for about five months.

The lawsuit was filed against Chaffee County, the Board of County Commissioners, the Sheriff's Office, several Sheriff's Office employees, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and several agents, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and 10 unnamed individuals.

In a recent court filing the defendants filed a motion asking for more time to submit their responses to the lawsuit with a deadline of September 29, 2023.

The lawsuit claims Barry last saw his wife on May 10, 2020 around 5 a.m. He called a neighbor when he, and the two Morphew daughters, were unable to contact Suzanne. The investigation into her disappearance began as Barry drove back home from work in Broomfield. The lawsuit lists multiple parts of the investigation that it says were not included in the arrest affidavit.

"Defendants authoring the Arrest Affidavit knowingly, recklessly, and maliciously omitted material, exculpatory information and included misleading and false information," the lawsuit reads.

It says one of these examples happened during the initial investigation: When Barry offered investigators Suzanne's clothing for a K-9 to smell, the animal followed her scent from the bike to a rushing river, where it disappeared.

The document claimed that Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which contains DNA samples of convicted offenders across the United States and unknown samples from unsolved crimes, found matches to DNA samples found on Suzanne's bicycle, her car and inside the Morphew home. This "highly exculpatory information" was also not included in the affidavit, the lawsuit reads. The judge was not informed of the unknown foreign male DNA found at the crime scene.

The state district court judge said that “the foreign male DNA being found on pieces of evidence at the crime scene that would exclude Mr. Morphew… would tend to negate guilt," the lawsuit reads, citing a transcript of a Feb. 10, 2022 hearing.

The full lawsuit can be accessed here.

Denver7's Stephanie Butzer contributed to this report


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