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Court hearing reveals fights, affair in Morphew relationship

Barry Morphew in court on May 6, 2021
KRDO
Barry Morphew in court on May 6, 2021

SALIDA, Colo. (KRDO) -- Monday is the first opportunity for prosecutors to convince a judge that Barry Morphew murdered his wife, Suzanne, on Mother's Day of 2020 in Salida.

Barry faces a slew of charges, including first-degree murder, in his wife's death. Barry claims Suzanne went on a bike ride on May 10, 2020, and never returned. He posted a video online a week later pleading for her to return safely. Her body has yet to be found. Police took Barry into custody in May of 2021, almost exactly one year after his wife's disappearance.

What we learned:

  • No suspicious blood was found inside the Morphew residence.
  • Suzanne purchased a "spy pen" before her disappearance to see if Barry was having an affair.
  • The spy pen ended up revealing that Suzanne was having an affair with another man for two years.
  • DNA found in Suzanne's car's glove box partially matched to three people in a criminal database for sexual assault.
  • Barry and Suzanne had fought; Suzanne discussed divorce with the children.

The recap:

In Monday morning's hearing, prosecutors questioned Commander Alexander Walker with the Chaffee County Sheriff's Office.

Walker told the court he began investigating after a fellow deputy advised he get in touch with a neighbor of Suzanne's about her disappearance since 5:30 p.m. on Mother's Day.

First, Walker explained he tried calling Barry but wasn't able to reach him. He said the couple's daughter, Mallory, tried wishing Suzanne "Happy Mother's day" over text but didn't get a reply.

It wasn't until 7 p.m. when Walker said he was able to get in touch with Barry.

Walker then testified that deputies found Suzanne's bike on the side of the road near CR-225 and Highway 50.

The prosecution played body camera footage of the deputies finding the bike. According to Walker, the bike was found sideways on a steep hill. The bike wasn't damaged, but Walker said it appeared as though the bike had been thrown over the side of the hill. He said that area wasn't near any trail and it was in rough terrain.

Additionally, Walker said there were no skid marks in the area and there wasn't any blood on or near the bike.

Walker also said he spoke to a neighbor, Miles Harden. Their conversation was captured on body camera footage. Harden told Walker he went out around 6 p.m. to look for Suzanne on the day she went missing. After checking nearby trails, he was unable to find her. Harden said that Suzanne wasn't known to go up on the trail where her bike was found because the terrain was so rough. He told Walker she normally goes down a road straight across the highway.

When asked if Suzanne and Barry had problems, Hardin told Walker they had "normal husband and wife type problems." He also mentioned that Barry was in Denver for work.

The prosecution played body camera footage of when they told Barry they had Suzanne's bike. In the video, Barry asked deputies where the bike was found and said she bikes every day. He also asked if deputies saw any cats on the road where the bike was found, they told him no.

At that time, Barry said he wasn't sure if Suzanne had maybe lost control or became tired and fell over the edge of the road. Walker described Berry as "emotional" while being told this information.

Barry told deputies the day she went missing he left town for work around 5 a.m. When he left, Barry claimed she was "sound asleep."

Suzanne's helmet was found a few days after she went missing, almost a mile away from where her bike was found. There was no damage to her helmet.

The day after she went missing, Walker testified that he spoke to Barry about his relationship with his wife. Barry told him that "Suzanne was his angel since they were 17 years old" and they had been married for 32 years.

Walker said Barry told him"they loved each other to death." Barry told Walker he didn't call the police after not hearing from Suzanne because she bikes regularly.

Barry then told deputies that a mountain lion attack was possible, or that he was scared someone may have picked her up.

Walker said Barry told deputies that he and Suzanne had spats about him working too much and that he didn't like that she was taking medication, but they always made up. Barry also asked for a plan for searches for Suzanne.

Additionally, Walker said Barry didn't protest when crime scene investigators showed up to investigate his home and truck, saying they were welcome to search. He also mentioned that Suzanne had started cleaning the house that day because their daughters were planning to bring a friend over to stay. The sheets were stripped on one of his daughter's beds.

Crime scene investigators never found any of Suzanne's blood throughout the investigation.

2:30 p.m. Update:

While he was on the stand, Commander Walker testified to the fact that Suzanne had purchased a "spy pen" before her disappearance to record Barry's audio and see if he was having an affair. Commander Walker said they did not find any evidence of Barry having an affair, however, they did find evidence that Suzanne was having an affair for two years before she vanished.

Six months after she disappeared, deputies discovered hundreds of secret phone calls, WhatsApp conversations and communication over LinkedIn with another man. There's evidence that Suzanne traveled to secretly meet up with this man at least six times. She traveled to New Orleans, Michigan, Texas, and twice to Indiana. He did not come forward to help search for Suzanne when she went missing.

At one point, defense counsel references that in the arrest affidavit, which is still not available to the public, data from Barry's truck indicates that the last known time Suzanne was alive was 2:47 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, 2020 -- the day before she was reported missing. The arrest warrant also apparently indicates that law enforcement believes Barry took steps to dispose of evidence of his wife's death in the hours before she was reported missing, but that's as specific as defense counsel got in court.

The previous owners of the Morphew home had installed a surveillance system, but it was not working the day Suzanne disappeared. During a search of the home, law enforcement found missing pieces of the surveillance system.

“I would almost bet $100,000 SHE took them out. I don’t know if they didn’t work or if it was because of HER sabotaging them or not,” Barry said to police during an interrogation detailed in the arrest affidavit.

When law enforcement tested the missing pieces of the surveillance system, they found DNA that was likely to be Suzanne's and another unrelated person's.

They also tested the DNA on the glove box of Suzanne's car, which came back with a profile of an unknown male. After running that DNA through the CODIS database, it came back as a partial match to three different people. All three of those people were in the system for sexual assault. Barry's DNA was ruled out as being a match to that DNA sample.

It turns out that Barry was not the one who reported Suzanne missing to law enforcement -- it was a neighbor. Commander Walker also testified that Barry did not help with any of the searches for Suzanne. Commander Walker said he believes more searches need to be done, but the terrain is steep and difficult to access.

3:45 p.m. Update:

FBI Agent Kenneth Harris, who specializes in victimology and behavior, testified that Suzanne's spy pen captured Barry listening to episodes of true-crime shows like Forensic Files. The pen also captured audio of Barry and Suzanne fighting. Suzanne accused Barry of being controlling with money, what she's allowed to do and even what she would wear.

The spy pen is ultimately what led investigators to learn that Suzanne was having an affair -- something they discovered six months after her disappearance.

Agent Harris mentioned that Suzanne texted frequently with an old friend named Sheila. Suzanne told Sheila that Barry would bring their daughters into their arguments and she was worried that Barry would try to turn their girls against her.

Suzanne also confided in Sheila over text that her cancer had returned and she was concerned that her marriage was causing her health to deteriorate. Suzanne also told her friend that sometimes he would be really mad and other times he would be fine, she felt his mood was unpredictable.

At one point, Agent Harris testified that they had been fighting so much that their daughter recommended they get a divorce. He also said that at one point, Barry put a gun to his head and asked if that's what Suzanne wanted. He also pinned her to the bed and wouldn't let her up. She said she threatened to involved law enforcement after that.

Suzanne apparently told her friend that she was waiting for their youngest daughter, Macy, to be out of the house before trying to divorce Barry. She also felt like Barry was holding money and their daughters over her head.

In February of 2020, just a few months before her disappearance, Suzanne texted her friend Sheila and told her that she talked to her youngest daughter, Macy, about wanting to leave the marriage. Macy was supportive. She told Sheila that she felt Barry had narcissistic tendencies and was considering a restraining order.

While this piece of testimony happened, both Macy and Mallory held each other and cried in the courtroom.

Agent Harris also talked about the affair that Suzanne was allegedly having. She met the man in high school and they hooked up back then before reconnecting more than 20 years later. They started as friends, but it became romantic over time. She confided in him about her cancer, her failing marriage, and her kids. They would meet up out of town whenever possible. She kept the affair quiet from everyone, including her best friends.

KRDO is following Monday's hearing through ABC affiliate reporter Carol McKinley. Follow her updates below:

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Sydnee Stelle

Sydnee is an MMJ for KRDO NewsChannel 13. You can learn more about her here.

Comments

1 Comment

  1. It’s my understanding that he was out of town on business when she disappeared and that prints on the bike she took for a ride belonged to two males with criminal histories. I’d rely more on the found bike with two other male’s prints on it before looking to the out of town husband, who likely has an alibi for his time. She was having an affair and was trying to trap her husband because she thought HE was having an affair. It will be interesting to see how justice functions in this case.

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