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​​​​​Court: Apparent fingernail wounds found on Barry Morphew when wife was reported missing


SALIDA, Colo. (KRDO) -- On the third day of Barry Morphew's preliminary hearing, prosecutors presented evidence that shows Barry's story to investigators changed in the months following his wife's disappearance.

Suzanne Morphew vanished on Mother's Day of 2020. Her body still has not been found, but her husband was charged with first-degree murder for her death roughly a year after she was reported missing.

Two days before she was reported missing, Suzanne texted her husband Barry saying she didn't want to be married to him anymore. Investigators revealed in court Monday that he tried to delete that text.

The day before she was reported missing, Suzanne was messaging a former classmate on LinkedIn. Months after she disappeared, investigators learned that she had been having an affair with this man for two years before she vanished. Investigators said she sent this man photos of herself sunbathing less than an hour before Barry returned home, but when Barry got home just before 3 p.m., his phone showed that he was moving in a strange pattern around the house.

When confronted about that pattern months after his wife disappeared, Barry said he would regularly shoot chipmunks with a .22 caliber gun. He estimated that he shot around 85 chipmunks total over time. Investigators later found a piece of a tranquilizer dart in the dryer trap at the Morphew home -- it didn't have any of Barry's DNA on it, but it would have been used with a .22 caliber gun. Barry told investigators he didn't know anything about that piece of the dart.

Barry's phone was placed into airplane mode later that night, from 10:17 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. Investigators testified that Barry would have had enough time to dispose of a body in that window. The next morning, the day Suzanne was reported missing. Barry left his home around 4:30 a.m. for a job in Broomfield County. Although, GPS records from his phone show that when he turned onto Highway 50, he didn't turn toward Broomfield County. He turned the opposite direction, which happened to be the direction where Suzanne's helmet was found later that day by search crews.

When asked why he turned that direction, he said he saw a bull elk and a herd, which was unusual for that time of year, so he followed it for a bit before turning and heading toward Broomfield County.

When he made it to Broomfield County, he stopped at several dumpsters to throw stuff away, according to investigators. During an interview with police, Barry said he's a "tightwad" and doesn't like to pay to throw his trash away, so he says he has regularly thrown things away at random dumpsters for years. An FBI agent testified Monday that he believes Barry transported murder evidence to Broomfield County.

Barry told investigators that while he was in Broomfield County, he spent most of his day at a work site. Although, surveillance video and phone records show that he actually spent almost six hours in his hotel room. When questioned about that, he changed his story and told investigators that he might have gone back to his room to watch TV for a little bit. He sent a handful of texts to Suzanne that day but never received a response.

His neighbor ended up reporting Suzanne missing later that day. Barry told investigators that he went back toward Salida that night just before 6 p.m.

When he made it to his house, law enforcement was already there. Though testimony on Monday revealed that Barry seemed very emotional when talking with police that night, an FBI agent said he didn't ask any questions or try to call his wife. He also didn't look at his bed, which is where he said he last saw Suzanne that morning before he left for his worksite. He did have injuries on him though: similar injuries on the outside of both of his hands in various stages of healing, miscellaneous cuts and abrasions starting to scab over, and what looked like a fingernail injury on his left arm below his shoulder.

Investigators searched the Morphew home for 14 days after Suzanne disappeared. They found damage on the doorframe of the master bedroom, saying it was consistent with the kind of damage you would see from a burglary or forced entry into the room. Investigators also found a live, unspent shell casing on the floor next to Suzanne's side of the bed. Suzanne normally kept a journal next to her bed, but it was missing when the home was searched.

An expert also testified Monday that the way Suzanne's bike was found indicated that someone had pushed it, rather than riding it, before it fell over the side of the road. Her helmet also had scratches on it when it was found in another area away from the bike, but experts said it didn't appear to be from a crash.

Walmart surveillance video showed that Suzanne had visited a Walmart pharmacy to pick up prescriptions four days before she died, on May 6, 2020. But when police searched her bathroom, they didn't find any medication that was listed as being filled on May 6, according to testimony.

When they searched Suzanne's car at the Morphew home, they found her purse with her driver's license, insurance cards, credit cards, and cash inside. She had previously searched for language schools in Ecuador, fueling a theory that she may have just left the country given that her body has never been found. She had a cancer treatment scheduled for May 11, 2020 and would have needed her insurance card for that appointment.

Testimony in the preliminary hearing is scheduled to take place through Tuesday.

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Sydnee Stelle

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

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