CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (KXRM) — Nearly four months have passed since anyone has seen missing Chaffee County woman, 49-year-old Suzanne Morphew.
In an update published Thursday, Sheriff John Spezze acknowledged nearly two months had passed since he had provided any information regarding the search for Morphew. But, Spezze said, his investigative team has not lost its focus.
“The investigative team had conducted hundreds of interviews both in Colorado and out of state and continue to develop leads and contact potential persons who may have information into the disappearance of Suzanne,” Thursday’s release read.
Spezze wrote his office, the CBI, FBI, and 11th Judicial District “continue to devote our resources to this investigation.”
The Sheriff’s Office has never named a suspect or person of interest in association with this case, but this week, a contractor hired for work by Barry Morphew, Suzanne’s husband, made some explosive claims about what happened during the weekend she disappeared.
For the first time, on record with FOX21 News, Barry Morphew has agreed to share his side of the story in a one-hour phone call with Lauren Scharf after speaking with her in person on Wednesday.
“Listen,” Barry said during a Thursday morning phonecall, “Jeff Puckett was in prison for nine years.”
Still, Barry confirmed he had hired Puckett for a project in Broomfield on Mother’s Day Weekend this year. They needed to fix a wall, Puckett said.
“I said listen, ‘I need to do this job, I will pay you good money to come and help me,’” Barry said of Puckett. “I gave him a job and an opportunity.”
It was not a last minute project, Barry explained, the job had been in the works for a month.
“That has nothing to do with Suzanne missing,” he said.
Puckett agreed to the work and traveled to Broomfield, where Barry had paid for a room. Puckett told FOX21 he walked inside and was immediately struck by a strong smell of chlorine.
“I mean, I’m not going to beat around the bush, it did,” he said. “I mean it smelled real strong. I’m like, ‘Damn,’ that’s just what I thought.”
Puckett also found signs that the room had been used in some capacity, and reasoned Barry had been inside at some point.
“The bed hadn’t been slept in or laid in or nothing, it was just kind of laid on or something,” Puckett said. “Maybe he got in, took a shower, and then that was it – just washed up and left.”
Puckett said he was told Barry had to leave for a family emergency that Sunday night, May 10.
The next morning, Puckett said he made another discovery: a piece of mail, addressed to Barry, in the trash can inside the room. He said the letter involved property insurance.
“When I found the mail the next morning, it just looked like an alibi you know what I’m saying, just the way things was,” Puckett said.
Barry said he left in a hurry, when he learned his wife was missing.
“I rushed home, left all my tools at the hotel called my workers and said, ‘I have a family emergency, you’re going to have to figure this out on your own,’” he said.
But Puckett said the crew couldn’t finish their work.
“We had nothing to work with,” he said. And he described what would have been necessary in order to complete that particular job.
“Once you build [the wall] up, you run a layer block, some dirt, get [it] inspected, then you keep continuing until the next level – and there was nothing like that to work with,” Puckett said. “That kind of pissed me off, so I come on back.”
As far as the paperwork left in the room, Puckett said he turned it over to authorities.
“I mean it’s either foul play or an alien has got her ,and we know that aliens are far-fetched you know what I’m saying but someone just doesn’t walk off the face of the earth like that and disappear it’s just not normal, it’s just not normal at all,” he said.
Barry confirmed to FOX21 News he had been in that room, and had also noticed a strong smell.
“I did not go to the pool and I did not get chlorine,” he said. “I’m sure that they washed the rooms with that for the COVID. I don’t know, but I [smelled] it too when I was in there.”
A hotel manager said the pool isn’t even open, due to coronavirus restrictions. That manager also said the hotel uses peroxide multi-purpose cleaner in its rooms.
“I did nothing wrong in the hotel,” Barry said. “There’s cameras all over the hotel. I did nothing wrong.”
The hotel isn’t the only location where the presence of a strong smell has been mentioned.
Suzanne’s older brother, Andrew Moorman, brought up something he’d heard, following a search of the Morphew family home.
“From what I understood secondhand, they said there was an overwhelming smell of bleach in the home,” he said.
That information had apparently been relayed to him by initial investigators.
“I’ve heard the FBI lie and I know that they can legally do that in their investigations,” Barry said. “But it just pains me to know that they are doing this to me and my family.”
Moorman said CBI agents brought up other concerns as well.
“They did ask us, ‘why can’t we find any coolers at the house?’ And I said, ‘well I have no idea. I don’t know how many they had to begin with,” he said. “But I assume, as a hunter and a guy that maybe camps, he would have a few, and they couldn’t find a single one.”
The Morphew property has been searched multiple times, with two separate, sealed search warrants. The last search on the Morphew property by investigators was July 9.
“Put it on record right now, if people think that you did it, what would you tell them?” FOX21’s Lauren Scharf asked Barry over the phone.
“Absolutely not,” he answered. “I love my wife. I would never hurt my wife. She is the light of my and my daughters’ lives. This whole thing is killing us and that is why I want our privacy.”