CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — For the first time since bringing charges against Barry Morphew for allegedly killing his wife Suzanne, prosecutors outlined their investigation in detail in open court.
Suzanne Morphew went missing on Mother’s Day in 2020. Her body has yet to be found.
The court proceedings were not live streamed, however limited media were able to attend, and report in real time. Lauren Scharf with our sister station FOX21 in Colorado Springs, served as the reporter for FOX31.
Barry Morphew’s daughters and mother were present in the courtroom, as he wore a suit and tie, according to Scharf.
Early stages of Suzanne Morphew’s missing person case
The first witness called to the stand was Commander Alex Walker with the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, who outlined the beginning of the missing persons case. Walker said Morphew’s daughter, Mallory, was unable to get a hold of her mother to wish her a happy Mother’s Day.
A deputy was able to locate Suzanne’s bicycle in the area of Highway 50 and County Road 225. The deputy activated their body camera and noted no blood, skid marks, brake marks, struggle or damage to the bicycle.
Investigators returned to the Morphew home to gather more information on where Suzanne may have went. They contacted Morphew around 8:45 p.m.
In court, investigators revealed they found Suzanne’s helmet about 8.4 miles away from her bicycle on May 15. It was not damaged, and found south on Hwy. 50, about 10 meters from the road.
According to Walker, more than 10 agencies were involved in the search that spanned days looking for Suzanne, including more than 70 officers, analysts and scientists. It’s the largest operation Walker had been involved with.
No blood connected to Suzanne was found in the Morphew home, and investigators didn’t find any blood throughout the investigation, according to Walker.
More than 110 search warrants were issued, with the first one executed on May 11, 2020 of the Morphews’ home including their vehicles. The home was locked down for 10 days before the Morphews could return. Dozens of investigators, including some with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, returned to the home on July 9 and 10.
Investigators reveal Suzanne was having an affair
According to Walker, Suzanne had a spy pen and suspected Morphew was having an affair, and the pen was voice activated.
“Barry wasn’t having an affair,” Walker said. “Suzanne was having an affair for two years.”
Walker said Suzanne was having an affair with a man named Jeff Libler. The two met up six times, including twice in Indiana where the two went to high school together.
Investigators learned about the affair in November, and were able to speak with Libler. Suzanne never told anyone about their relationship.
According to investigators, Suzanne reached out to Libler in September of 2018. They became physical in February of 2019 in New Orleans.
Libler was planning a trip to Colorado in March of 2020, but the pandemic hit. According to Harris, they sent each other naked pictures, and were calling each other soul mates.
According to investigators, Libler didn’t believe that Barry Morphew knew about him. “If he knew about me, he would have came after me. I just don’t think he knew that Suzanne and I were together,” said Special Agent Kenneth Harris with the FBI.
On the second day of the hearing, investigators continued to dive into the relationship.
April 21, 2020, a text conversation between Suzanne and Libler included phrases like “I want to be with you,” and “I love you, I need you.”
Investigators said Libler was working on a dock project on May 9 and 10 in Michigan, and bought supplies at a hardware store, which checked out with his credit card statements.
On May 10, Libler reached out to wish Suzanne a happy Mother’s Day. Suzanne never responded. On May 11, Libler texted Suzanne wishing her well for her cancer treatment. She didn’t respond. That was allegedly the last message Libler sent to Suzanne.
State says Morphew disposed of evidence in early hours of May 10
The arrest affidavit, which has still not been made public, indicates Morphew took steps to get rid of evidence between 2:47 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. on May 10, the day Suzanne went missing, based on activity from Morphew’s cell phone and truck.
A criminal complaint alleges Morphew killed Suzanne between and including May 9 and May 10, 2020.
According to data investigators gathered, at 3:25 a.m. May 10, Morphew’s truck doors were opened and closed. The phone moved toward the location where the bike was found.
When asked by the District Attorney, Deb Stanley, Walker said Morphew never called 911, reported his wife was missing, or helped with any law enforcement-led searches.
FBI agent outlines Barry and Suzanne’s marital issues
Special Agent Kenneth Harris, a 12-year veteran of the FBI, was the second person to take the stand as a witness.
Harris said Suzanne’s spy pen was helpful during the early stages of the investigation, as recordings of both Suzanne and Libler and recordings of Suzanne and Morphew were played in open court.
Harris discussed several conversations, and text messages, between Suzanne and her best friend Sheila Oliver. Harris said according to Oliver, Morphew would try to get the girls on his side and pit the girls against Suzanne.
According to Harris, Oliver told him back in 2018, Morphew allegedly pushed Suzanne into a closet, put a gun to his head, and asked her if this is what she wanted.
Texts between Suzanne and Oliver in 2019 indicate Suzanne wanted to wait until her daughter was out of the house and on her own before going through a divorce.
During the week of May 5 to May 10, Suzanne and Barry were alone. Libler and Suzanne would message each other on LinkedIn, because Suzanne feared Morphew would see her texts.
Libler messaged Suzanne on May 6 saying “I know these next few days were going to be rough.” Suzanne’s last communication happened on May 9 at 2:11 p.m. between her and Libler on LinkedIn.
According to Harris, Suzanne wanted to be married to Libler, and Morphew had no knowledge of the affair.
Investigators said Suzanne created a LinkedIn account in August of 2018 and logged into the account frequently until she went missing on May 10, 2020.
According to Harris, investigators never found Suzanne’s phone or the charger she leaves plugged in next to her bed. Detectives had to use what was backed up on iCloud as well as records from the phone company to retrieve key data.
During cross examination, Morphew’s defense team continued to circle around the idea that Suzanne kept many things secret.
“Suzanne’s secret spy pen led investigators to Suzanne’s secret affair,” said Morphew’s attorney Iris Eytan.
Day two of preliminary hearing
Agent Harris said Suzanne would use the “find my iPhone” app to track Morphew, and Morphew would sometimes put his phone on airplane mode to avoid this.
On the second day of the hearing, Eytan claims Suzanne took $70,000 from a safe in the garage. Morphew asked investigators about missing money from the safe at a point during the investigation.
The defense, despite the state’s objection, outlined how Suzanne opened up a secret bank account with GreenDot bank and Royal Compass Management. Eytan asked Harris if he looked into this, and he said he did not.
The state then began asking Harris about Morphew’s phone records, including deleted dating web history. Reporters noticed Morphew sit up in his chair when this was brought up. The state also brought up search history which included celebrity pornography website.
Suzanne sent a text to Morphew on May 6, four days before she went missing, saying “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.” Morphew deleted the text, but investigators were still able to recover it.
According to Harris, this text was a significant step for Suzanne. Harris said according to Oliver, Suzanne hadn’t come out and said that until May 6.
On May 6, Morphew sent texts to Suzanne indicating suicidal thoughts. “Going to see my savior. This life on Earth is a mere grain of sand compared to eternity.” The text had previously been deleted from Morphew’s phone.
On May 8, Suzanne sent a text to her sister at 9:28 a.m. that said Morphew was abrasive and abusive.
That same morning, Morphew and Suzanne had multiple calls. Morphew sent Suzanne a text that said “I love you Suzanne.”
Where was Morphew on May 9 and 10?
Johnny Grusing worked in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s office in Denver since September of 1996. He retired two weeks ago, and has a background in terrorism, violent crime, behavioral analysis and body-less homicide cases.
Grusing was tasked with interviewing Morphew, and finding out where he was on May 9 and 10.
Investigators had data through Morphew’s truck, including knowledge of when the door would open and close, when brake lights were on and more.
The data on Morphew’s phone matched his truck’s records on May 9. He went to a property at Tailwinds around 11 a.m. and was back home to eat lunch with Suzanne at 11:30 a.m.
After leaving to check on a project, Morphew returned home and found Suzanne sunbathing. During that time, Suzanne was sending pictures of herself to Libler. She sent a message that said “Guess who is alone again??” at 2:03 p.m.
As Suzanne’s selfie was shown in open court, reporters noticed the Morphew daughters were crying. Investigators say this was the last proof of life of Suzanne. Investigators say Morphew looked at the photo and told investigators “she looked drunk.”
Morphew was moving around the home for the next couple of hours, according to cell phone data. According to Grusing, he was shooting chipmunks in the back yard.
According to Grusing, this is roughly the time Morphew may have done something to Suzanne.
Grusing mentioned there was a tranquilizer dart cap found in Morphew’s dryer.
At 4:44 p.m., Morphew’s truck door opened and closed. At 5:25 p.m., the gear shift went from park to reverse and moved backward in the driveway 95 feet.
Morphew’s defense says he visited the Salida Stove and Spa between 4 and 5:30 p.m. that day, and spoke with two employees at the store.
At 10:17 p.m. on May 9, Morphew’s phone was taken off airplane mode and it was home.
At 2:53 a.m. May 10, there is an outgoing call on Suzanne’s phone.
At 3:25 a.m. May 10, Morphew’s truck doors were opened and closed. The phone moved toward the location where the bike was found, according to Grusing.
At 4:31 a.m. May 10, Morphew’s phone went back into airplane mode. His phone came back online and he traveled toward Broomfield. Agent Grusing pointed out that GPS can still be tracked when a phone is on airplane mode.
Around 5:37 a.m., Morphew was heading towards Buena Vista, driving through Johnson Village.
Morphew texted his mother “Happy Mother’s Day,” before texting Suzanne at 6:10 a.m. “You up? Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.”
At 8:10 a.m. he stopped at an RTD bus stop in Broomfield off Highway 36. His passenger door opens, and according to data, it took him about two minutes to throw something away that was a few feet from his truck.
Morphew then went to the Holiday Inn Express in Broomfield, where he made another trash run. At 8:25 a.m. Morphew walked into the hotel and went to his room at 8:38 a.m. He carries multiple items into the room, including hiking boots, a teal-covered piece of clothing, a darker piece of clothing and a light blue bag.
Morphew texts Suzanne at 8:41 a.m. to tell her he arrived in Broomfield.
Morphew leaves the hotel at 9:21 a.m. and travels to a worksite, but doesn’t park. He goes to a McDonald’s nearby and throws away more items. Surveillance video shows Morphew pushing trash down a trash can with both hands.
Morphew gets his car washed, and goes to a Men’s Warehouse parking lot for another trash run that lasts 40 minutes.
The FBI has video of a fifth trash run, where Morphew says he threw away tranquilizer material. Morphew returns to the hotel room, changes shirts and then left for a construction site to do work on a retaining wall for up to 15 minutes.
Morphew called Suzanne at 11:20 a.m. and got no answer.
He calls his daughter Mallory at 12:06 p.m. and texts Suzanne to call him at 3:30 p.m.
At 12:27 p.m. Morphew is seen throwing away two bags into a dumpster on hotel surveillance. He walks away from the dumpster with his head down and hands in his pockets.
Morphew doesn’t leave his hotel room in Broomfield until 5:55 p.m. He initially told investigators in early May that he had been working on the retaining wall. Grusing mentions Morphew’s story changed when accounting for what he was doing during that time on May 10.
At 5:55 p.m. Morphew changed his shirt again, and left the room. He takes multiple trips in and out of the hotel entrance to bring in hand tools.
Court has wrapped up Tuesday. This story will be updated with more details when they become available.