SALIDA, Colo. – Suzanne Morphew’s two daughters are about to spend a second somber Mother’s Day without their mom.
That tragedy has been compounded this year by the arrest of their father in Morphew’s disappearance and presumed murder.
Barry Morphew, 53, of Poncha Springs, Colorado, was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence and attempting to influence a public servant, according to the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office. Morphew is being held without bond.
“Today is not the day for celebration nor does it mark the end of this investigation,” Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. “Rather, it’s the next step in this very difficult yet very important journey as we seek justice for Suzanne and her family.”
Suzanne Morphew, 49, was reported missing May 10 by a neighbor who said Morphew had never returned from a bike ride near her family’s home on Puma Path near Salida. Her abandoned bicycle was found less than a half-mile away that same day.
Sheriff’s Office investigators immediately began a search that involved more than 100 people, as well as tracking dogs. At least one personal item believed to belong to Morphew was found a few days after she went missing.
In September, Suzanne Morphew’s brother, Andrew Moorman, traveled from his Indiana home to lead several hundred volunteers on his own private search for his missing sister. At that time, he declared that he believed Morphew had been murdered.
“I’m out there to find my sister,” Andrew Moorman told ABC 7 in Denver. “I need to find her, need to bring her home, give her a proper burial and closure for my family.”
He said he refused to speculate on anyone’s guilt or to “inflict punishment on anyone.”
“My entire family has suffered for four months,” Moorman said at the time. “We’ve had enough. I stayed quiet as I was asked to. I bit my tongue for three months. Not doing it anymore.”
Melinda Moorman, Andrew and Suzanne’s sister, told Fox 21 in Colorado Springs that her first reaction to Barry Morphew’s arrest was relief.
“Today, justice is beginning for my sister,” Moorman said. “It’s been a journey that no one ever imagines that they’ll take.”
She told the news station that she still loves her brother-in-law, “though he’s done a terrible thing.”
The week after Suzanne Morphew was reported missing, Barry Morphew recorded a video message pleading for his wife’s return.
“Oh Suzanne, if anyone is out there that can hear this, that has you, please, we’ll do whatever it takes to bring you back. We love you. We miss you,” Barry Morphew said in the video. “The girls need you. No questions asked. However much they want, I will do whatever it takes to get you back. Honey, I love you. I want you back so bad.”
Suzanne Morphew’s body has not been found.
“The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and its partners have spent thousands of hours in the effort to locate the mother of two,” Spezze said in a statement.
The search, which resulted in the formation of a task force, had thus far involved more than 135 searches across Colorado and the interviews of more than 400 people in multiple states, Spezze said. Over 70 investigators from the sheriff’s office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI have been involved in the case.
A $200,000 reward was offered for information in the case.
Following his arrest, Barry Morphew refused to answer detectives’ questions, the AP reported. He requested a lawyer, and questioning came to an end.
Details of the case against Morphew have not been revealed. According to the AP, District Attorney Linda Stanley said Wednesday that the probable cause affidavit in the case had been sealed.
An order from the court indicated Thursday that Morphew’s defense attorneys, who requested time to read and review the affidavit, would have a week to do so before stating whether they objected to the lengthy document being unsealed and made public.
Prosecutors have said they do not object to the affidavit being unsealed.
A reporter on Wednesday asked Stanley how the public could be assured that the case against Barry Morphew is a solid one without more details.
“I wouldn’t bring charges unless I was confident,” Stanley responded.
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