Mother’s Day Mystery: The Disappearance of Suzanne Morphew

Mother’s Day is supposed to be a time to celebrate and appreciate the moms in your life, but in 2020, that day turned dark for the Morphew family. Wife and mother-of-two, Suzanne Morphew, left her Colorado home for her daily bike ride. Later that day, she was reported missing by her neighbors.

Barry Morphew, Suzanne Morphew / Suzanne Morphew / Barry Morphew, Suzanne Morphew / Macy Morphew, Barry Morphew, Mallory Morphew.
Source: YouTube

Suzanne never returned from her bike ride, and it didn’t take long for people to start pointing the finger at her husband, Barry Morphew. Although her body was never found, she was presumed dead. All eyes have been on Barry since she vanished, and everyone wants to know what really happened.

A Not So Happy Mother’s Day

It was a beautiful day in southern Colorado on May 10, 2020. It was Mother’s Day, and the Morphew family planned to celebrate 49-year-old and mother-of-two Suzanne Morphew. She had two daughters, Mallory and Macy, who were looking forward to spending time with their mom when they returned from their camping trip.

A portrait of Suzanne Morphew.
Suzanne Morphew. Source: Pinterest

Her husband, Barry Morphew, had left for work that morning while she was still asleep but made sure to text her “Happy Mother’s Day!” Suzanne’s family wasn’t around during the day, so she reportedly went on a bike ride as she was an avid cyclist who had recently taken up mountain biking.

No Reply

Barry had been in contact with his daughters but never received a reply from Suzanne after texting her. Mallory and Macy couldn’t reach her either, so Barry called the neighbor, asking if they could check in on Suzanne. The neighbor said she wasn’t home, but her car was in the driveway.

A photo of Barry and Suzanne by the beach.
Barry Morphew, Susann Morphew. Source: Pinterest

He was starting to grow concerned, so he told the neighbor to look for her bike because she might have gone on a ride. The bike wasn’t there and Suzanne should have been home already. Barry decided to call the police and report her missing. The search for Suzanne began immediately.

Gone Without a Trace

Police officers called members of Chaffee Country Search and Rescue to help, and they brought in tracking dogs to assist. The search for Suzanne continued into the early hours of the following morning, but they came up empty-handed. They had no idea what could have happened to her.

A photo of Suzanne with her daughters.
Mallory, Suzanne, Macy. Source: Pinterest

As the police continued to look for Suzanne, they brought in drones and expanded their search. Barry and his daughters were extremely worried. They joined the search efforts, but there was no trace of Suzanne. Everyone started to wonder how she could have disappeared without a trace.

Something Turned Up

Investigators quickly found her mountain bike resting on some boulders not far from the Morphew home. There was no sign of Suzanne, her clothes, or her helmet. They later found her helmet about a mile from the bike, on the side of the highway. It seemed like the helmet had been thrown from a car.

A photo of Suzanne’s bike after the police discovery.
Source: Chaffee County District Court

Four days after Suzanne was reported missing, Barry offered a $200,000 reward for her safe return. He put in $100,000, while a family friend matched the amount. He said he just wanted her home. Unfortunately, that didn’t help anything because no one came forward with new information.

It Didn’t Make Sense

Finding Suzanne’s bike and helmet were the first breaks in the case, but things weren’t adding up. Although she was new to mountain biking and could have had an accident, there would have been signs left behind. She would have been injured, but they didn’t find a body.

A photo of Suzanne’s bike is kept as evidence.
Source: Chaffee County District Court

The police theorized that Suzanne could have been abducted. However, they also believed the bike and helmet could have been staged to make it seem like a kidnapping. Investigators agreed that something didn’t feel right with the case, but who wanted to hurt her?

Asking the Public for Help

Despite finding her bike and helmet, the police reached another dead end. Dive and rescue teams were now searching local water sites for Suzanne’s body, and police asked residents to save security footage from May 8 to May 12 in case a camera caught Suzanne.

A photo of police searching for Suzanne.
Source: Chaffee County District Court

It had already been a week since the family last saw Suzanne, and they felt hopeless. Barry released a video begging for his wife’s safe return based on the kidnapping theory. The police then cordoned off Suzanne’s home to search for clues.

It Was Something Out of a Movie

As authorities searched the Morphew home, they discovered something out of a 1970s spy movie in the master bedroom. They found what appeared to be a spy pen that could record conversations. Apparently, someone had given it to Suzanne to find out if Barry was cheating.

A picture of the pen.
Source: Chaffee County District Court

Unfortunately, it backfired on Suzanne because it captured her having conversations with another man named Jeff. She had gone to great lengths to hide her affair, so it took police a while to track down the man that Suzanne was secretly seeing.

A Troubled Marriage

Suzanne’s affair painted a much different picture of her marriage than Barry had portrayed. By all accounts, they looked like a happy couple in all their pictures, but there were real problems behind closed doors. Suzanne’s sister gave some insight into the couple’s problems.

A picture of Suzanne in a restaurant.
Source: Pinterest

Her sister said Barry was the dominant one in the marriage, while Suzanne was more passive and gentler. Two days before she went missing, Suzanne texted her sister a long message about her marriage problems saying Barry was emotionally and physically abusive, and she was angry.

Their Problems Weren’t New

According to Suzanne’s sister, the couple had had problems for years. Suzanne and Barry grew up in Alexandria, Indiana, where they met in high school. She was the homecoming queen, and he was the star baseball player. They seemed like the perfect match.

Suzanne’s sister speaks during an interview.
Suzanne’s sister. Source: KRDO

Barry had been drafted to the Toronto Blue Jays, but an injury ended his baseball dreams. Instead, he attended Purdue University with Suzanne. They dated throughout college and married in 1994. He started a landscaping business, and she was a teacher until she had children and stayed at home.

A Change of Scenery

Their relationship seemed fine until their children started to get older. Macy was still in high school, and Mallory went off to college in Colorado. Suzanne told friends they were moving to Colorado to be closer to Mallory, but there were other reasons.

A dated picture of Suzanne with her husband and children.
Mallory, Suzanne, Macy, Barry. Source: Pinterest

Many speculated that the couple was moving in hopes of saving their marriage. Maybe they thought the change of scenery would make things better, but it didn’t change anything. According to people who knew them, the move appeared to make things even worse than before.

They Used to Communicate Well

Before moving to Colorado, people said the Morphews were a happy couple. Cody Cox, Barry’s former employee, always thought Barry was a nice guy. Cox often overheard Barry talking to Suzanne on the phone when they drove together and said they communicated well.

Suzanne’s sister speaks during an interview / The Morphews pose for a picture.
Source: YouTube

Cox had met Suzanne several times and said she was a wonderful woman. When he heard she was missing, he couldn’t believe it. However, he admitted that he didn’t think Barry was involved because they were happy when he last saw them.

Barry Finally Spoke Publicly

Three months after Suzanne’s disappeared, Barry spoke for the first time. He had a phone interview in which he theorized that his wife could have been attacked by an animal, gotten into an accident, or run into someone she knew well. His theories were quite bizarre.

A photo of Barry outside court with his daughters.
Source: YouTube

Although he declined to have an in-person interview, Barry openly shared what he thought happened to Suzanne. Around the same time, Suzanne’s brother organized another search party, hoping to find his sister alive, but he knew the chances were low.

One Theory Fell Through

Barry mentioned in his interview that he thought an animal could have attacked Suzanne. It was one of his many theories, but it was quickly shut down. True-crime YouTuber, Tyson Draper, met Barry where Suzanne’s bike was found and secretly recorded their conversation.

A picture of Suzanne ready to go on a bike ride.
Source: Facebook

Barry told Draper about his animal attack theory, stating on the first night of the search, officers saw a mountain lion in the area, so maybe it attacked and killed her. When the police watched Draper’s video, they dismissed the theory because there would have been blood or evidence of a struggle.

Suspicions Arise

As the investigation continued, authorities started to believe Suzanne never went for a bike ride. They found her sunglasses and water bottle in her car, which she would have needed. They also found her license and credit cards at home but not her phone.

A view inside the Morphews home.
Source: Pinterest

While Barry claimed he last saw his wife sleeping the morning she disappeared, investigators doubted his story. It was suspicious that he just happened to be out when she went missing, and his daughters were also away. Wouldn’t they have wanted to be there for Mother’s Day?

Barry’s Story

According to interviews, Barry said on May 9, the day before Suzanne disappeared, he came home from work around 3 p.m. Although they had been having marital problems, they were happy that day. Barry claimed the couple had a nice dinner together and even slept together.

A photo of Barry’s truck.
Source: Chaffee County District Court

He told the same story every single time, saying that he left for work on the morning of May 10 while Suzanne was still asleep and drove three hours away to the worksite. Barry never strayed from this string of events and gave many interviews without a lawyer.

The Mystery Man

The police started to suspect Barry was involved in Suzanne’s disappearance when they finally found Suzanne’s mystery man. She hid her affair so well that it took police six months to track him down. The man was Jeff Libler, a married Michigan father of six.

A screengrab of Suzanne’s text messages with Jeff Libler.
Source: Chaffee County District Court

Suzanne and Libler had a one-time fling after high school but lost touch for many years. When she moved to Colorado, Suzanne reached out to Libler on Facebook, saying, “Howdy, stranger!” They started talking every day after that first message.

He Cooperated

Libler kept quiet after hearing Suzanne was missing and went to great lengths to cover up their two-year affair. He deleted all the social media accounts he used to contact her because he was didn’t want to tarnish her memory or hurt his family.

A photo of the Morphews on a night out.
Source: Pinterest

However, when authorities located him, Libler assisted them. He thought he was a suspect but gave them access to his DNA, phone records, and passwords for the deleted social media accounts. The phone records and messages helped police piece together a timeline of their relationship.

Their Affair Was More Than Messages

Based on their findings, they determined that Libler and Suzanne met many times over the two years. Suzanne took many vacations to see him in different states ranging from Louisiana to Florida. The two would send intimate photos to each other and talked about getting married.

Suzanne takes a picture of herself.
Source: Pinterest

The secret couple discussed leaving their spouses and fleeing to Ecuador to be together. She even researched language schools in Ecuador. They were in love, but the affair was their best-kept secret. Suzanne and Libler somehow hid everything from their spouses, at least that’s what they thought.

He Was the Last to Talk to Her

According to records, Libler and Suzanne messaged 59 times on May 9, which was more than usual. She sent a selfie that day, and it is considered her last proof of life. They were talking during the day when Barry wasn’t home.

An exterior shot of the Morphews home.
Source: YouTube

At 2:05 p.m., she said, “I’m just so in love with you.” Libler replied at 2:06 p.m., saying, “Want to strip down and get naked lol.” Suzanne answered that she was loading her WhatsApp account. A few minutes later, she told Libler that she was on WhatsApp.

Barry Came Home

While Suzanne was busy talking to Libler, Barry messaged her at 2:26 p.m. that he was on his way home. She didn’t answer because she was probably distracted, so Barry messaged again, asking if she had left. There was still no response, and he arrived at 3 p.m.

A photo of Suzanne / A portrait of Barry.
Source: Facebook

While it is still unclear what happened next, police thought Barry got home and possibly found his wife talking to Libler and discovered her affair. Despite claiming they had a lovely night with dinner and intimate relations, it didn’t appear to be true.

The Chipmunk Alibi

Investigators looked further into Barry’s story and discovered that his cellphone had been pinging all around the outside of his house when he got home on May 9. Police asked him to explain, and he said, “Well, let me think about that. I was probably walking around shooting chipmunks.”

A photo of Barry outside his home.
Source: 48 Hours

He claimed the chipmunks were a problem, and he shot them that day. Investigators thought this was a ridiculous explanation. It had to be the explanation of a guilty person. It was incriminating evidence because there were no signs of chipmunk shootings.

A Deleted Text Could Be the Motive

Barry told investigators that he didn’t know about Suzanne’s affair. If he hadn’t known, what could have been his motive? Then police discovered a deleted text on his phone that Suzanne had sent a few days before her disappearance, leading them to a possible motive.

A photo of Suzanne and Barry.
Source: Facebook

The text said, “I’m done. I could care less what you’re up to and have been for years. We just need to figure this out civilly.” Investigators thought Barry might have lost it when she wanted to end things. He wanted to control her.

Suspicious Phone Activity

Barry knew his daughters would be away that weekend, so it’s possible he took advantage of that to kill Suzanne. From 2:47 p.m. to 10:17 p.m., Barry’s phone was on airplane mode. Police believe he used that time to clean up and dispose of some evidence.

A satellite view of Barry’s phone pinging all around the house.
Source: Chaffee County District Court

Unfortunately, the police couldn’t track his movements when his phone was off. That large chunk of time seemed to be unaccounted for, and they thought there was no way to know what he had been doing. But they found another way to track him.

Don’t Forget About the Car

Since his phone wasn’t helpful, police turned to the data from Barry’s car’s computer. What they found didn’t match Barry’s version of the events. Barry said he went to sleep at 8 p.m. on May 9. However, data from his truck showed otherwise.

A view of a road in Colorado.
Source: YouTube

Around 9 p.m., the truck was put in reverse and moved 97 feet closer to the house. Investigators believe this was when he loaded her body into the car. The truck’s doors were also opened and closed at 3:30 a.m., even though he claimed to have woken up an hour later.

Four Hours of Missing Data

The police believe Barry left his home much earlier than he said. From 4 to 8 a.m., there was no activity recorded by his car or phone. He could have been disposing of her body during that time, but authorities didn’t know. Luckily, Barry helped.

An image of Suzanne’s search.
Source: Chaffee County District Court

Barry said he turned left out of his driveway instead of right like usual because he saw a herd of elk. As a hunter, he was interested and wanted to see them. This admission was significant because it put him in the area where Suzanne’s helmet was found.

Going on a Garbage Run

By 8:10 a.m., Barry’s phone and car were back on. They recorded that he first pulled over at a bus stop to dispose of something in the trash. He then went to a hotel, then a McDonald’s, then a Men’s Wearhouse, and back to the hotel.

A surveillance tape of Barry’s car the day Suzanne is reported missing.
Source: Chaffee County District Court

At each place, he stopped to throw things away. It’s believed that he was disposing of evidence in the Denver area. Barry was captured on security footage during one of his trash runs, but the police couldn’t see what he threw away.

Another Day at the Office?

When asked about his trash runs, Barry claimed it was “just another day at the office.” He claimed he was being cheap and had a lot of junk in his car from a worksite that he didn’t want to pay to throw away at a dump.

A photo of Barry at the police station.
Source: Chaffee County District Court

It was suspicious because he didn’t have to go to several places to throw junk away. He could have gone to one dumpster and disposed of what he needed if it was just things from work. However, he might have been spreading out evidence.

The Smelly Hotel Room

After his garbage run, Barry went to the worksite and returned to the Holiday Inn, where he had rooms for his employees. He stayed until around 6 p.m., and, by then, he had already talked to his daughters and couldn’t get in touch with Suzanne.

An interior photo of Suzanne’s car.
Source: Chaffee County District Court

He then contacted his neighbor, whom he told to call 911, but Barry didn’t go home right away. He dropped off tools for his employees, including a shovel. He told them he had a family emergency, and one worker took over Barry’s room. The employee said it reeked of chlorine.

Uncovered Messages

During the investigation, Suzanne’s close friend showed police messages she had received from her. The messages made it clear that Suzanne didn’t want to be with Barry anymore, and she was afraid of him. She wrote that Barry wouldn’t speak of divorce.

A photo of Barry and Suzanne.
Source: Facebook

Suzanne also shared that she felt “no peace when Barry is around,” and she was afraid to be alone with him. She feared for her safety, and wanted to leave Barry, but it wasn’t so easy. Based on her messages, he didn’t want to get a divorce. It wasn’t an option.

Incriminating Evidence

While searching the Morphew home, a clear plastic cap was found in the dryer. It was for a syringe used to fill tranquilizer darts for animals. Authorities believed Barry shot Suzanne with a tranquilizer dart to kill her, and he had plenty of experience.

A photo of a plastic needle cap found in the dryer.
Source: Chaffee County District Court

Barry told police he was an experienced tranquilizer dart gun shooter with a lot of knowledge about loading and shooting. He said he would shoot deer in his yard to paralyze them while he cut off their antlers. Experts said one of those darts could be lethal for a human.

The Pinging Pattern

The police started to think that the pinging pattern recorded on his phone wasn’t Barry shooting chipmunks. After finding the tranquilizer dart syringe cap, they theorized that the pattern was him chasing Suzanne after he had shot her. It wouldn’t have been long until she collapsed.

An aerial view of the Morphews home.
Source: YouTube

The theory was backed up by a broken door frame found in the home and scratches found on Barry’s arm from a possible altercation and struggle. Suzanne probably tried to run away, but the poison took over her body even though she fought it.

The Prime Suspect

Barry was the number one suspect in Suzanne’s disappearance. Libler had been cleared because he had a solid alibi. Therefore, police took the circumstantial evidence of Barry’s suspicious behavior, his contradicting statements, the car data, Suzanne’s scared messages, and the trash runs to the district attorney.

A picture of Barry and his daughters leaving court.
Source: YouTube

Almost a year after Suzanne went missing, Barry was arrested on May 5, 2021. Although Suzanne’s body was never found, he was still charged with 1st-degree murder and tampering with evidence. Barry was held without bail and pled “not guilty.”

The Prosecution Figured Out His Motive

If Barry had killed Suzanne, the prosecution said he did it because he could no longer control Suzanne’s desire to leave him. Therefore, he resorted to hunting and controlling her like the animals he hunted for most of his life.

A dated photo of Suzanne smiling next to Barry.
Source: Facebook

Barry was a controlling and abusive man who didn’t want Suzanne to have her way. The prosecution felt they had a strong case against him even without physical evidence or a body. Then Barry decided to hire a team of high-profile lawyers.

Could It Go to Trial?

In the summer of 2021, the prosecution presented their evidence to Judge Patrick Murphy in open court. The preliminary hearing was to see if the case could be taken to trial. It seemed like Barry was guilty from an outside perspective, but there wasn’t physical evidence.

A video still of Barry arriving at court.
Source: YouTube

Barry’s lawyers tried to block the case. They said the plastic cap found in the dryer meant nothing because it could have been there for months. Additionally, they found Suzanne’s DNA on the cap, not Barry’s. Also, the chlorine smell in his hotel room was because of the indoor pool below it.

DNA Evidence Threatened the Case

Besides the lack of physical evidence, something else threatened the case against Barry. Investigators swabbed the inside of Suzanne’s car and found male DNA on the glove box. However, it didn’t belong to Barry or her lover; it belonged to a man who had attacked other women.

A portrait of Suzanne Morphew.
Source: Facebook

The DNA findings presented another possible theory of what happened to Suzanne. She could have fallen into the hands of this predator. He might have abducted and killed her. According to 48 Hours, the unnamed man assaulted two women in different Arizona cities.

Three Possible Scenarios

After hearing the prosecution and defense, Judge Murphy said there are three possible scenarios in this case: Suzanne could have run off on her own, Barry might have killed her, or another man might have abducted her. However, it was unlikely she would have left her children.

A picture of Barry with his daughters outside the courthouse.
Source: YouTube

With one theory out of the way, the judge said the abduction theory is a possibility with the DNA findings from Suzanne’s car. The defense was banking on the abduction theory, but Judge Murphy said there was enough probable cause to go to trial.

Out on Bail

The judge set Barry’s bail at $500,000, and he had enough funds to pay it. On September 20, 2021, Barry left jail with an ankle monitor, and he wasn’t allowed to leave the county without permission from the court. His daughters happily welcomed him home.

A photo of Barry Morphew.
Photo by Andy Johnstone

A few weeks later, Barry’s lawyers filed a civil lawsuit against the prosecution and investigators for withholding exculpatory evidence that could point to his innocence. It was a bold move, but he was determined to get justice. Barry also requested a new judge.

Judge Murphy Stepped Down

In December 2021, Judge Murphy removed himself from Barry’s case because of a conflict of interest. Shoshana Darke was taken into custody a few months earlier for trespassing on the Morphew property and could be called as a witness at Barry’s trial.

An image of Barry, Mallory, and Macy walking to court.
Source: CBS Denver

Judge Murphy has had a long personal relationship with Sean McDermott, who was a partner in the firm representing Darke. Murphy said the conflict only represented a small portion of the conflict, but he had “no choice” but to step down. Murphy will help choose a replacement.

He Has a New Girlfriend

In an interesting turn of events, Barry is now dating and living with Darke. He could not reside in his former home because it was too close to a neighbor who will be called as a witness at his trial. It is quite bizarre that he is dating someone who trespassed on his property.

A mugshot of Darke the time she trespassed on his property.
Source: Pinterest

Maybe he is trying to get close to her so that she won’t be a witness in his trial. Barry’s trial will begin in the spring, and he continues to maintain his innocence. Nothing has come of the DNA evidence found in Suzanne’s car.

Prematurely Arrested

Investigation Agent Joseph Cahill recently stated that Barry’s arrest was premature. Cahill expressed concerns about the case to his superiors, but they ignored him. He believed that the case was not “remotely ready” for anybody to make an arrest. It could hurt the case in the end.

A picture of Barry and Suzanne smiling at the camera.
Source: Pinterest

Court documents show that Cahill had repeatedly brought up concerns about Barry’s arrest. However, he only read nine pages of Barry’s arrest document even though Internal Affairs requested that he make revisions. The prosecution said Cahill has been “thoroughly discredited.”

The Defense Wants to Dismiss the Case

Barry’s defense attorneys are currently working to dismiss the murder case. Although his trial is quickly approaching, the defense filed a motion asking for sanctions against the prosecution, centered around “late-provided discovery” details, referencing the DNA of the other man.

An image of the Morphews heading to court.
Source: YouTube

The prosecution called the allegations “utter nonsense.” While the defense believes dismissing the case would be “the only just remedy,” the trial is still set to begin on April 29. Former Denver Chief Deputy DA Craig Silverman believes the trial will proceed and doesn’t think a judge will approve a dismissal.