ANDERSON — A Colorado judge has ruled that there is enough evidence that the husband of former Madison County resident Suzanne Morphew should go to trial in connection with her death.
Judge Patrick Murphy ruled Friday that Barry Morphew, 53, is charged with first degree murder in the death of his wife.
Morphew also is charged with tampering with a human body, tampering with physical evidence, possession of a dangerous weapon and attempting to influence a public servant.
Morphew entered a not guilty plea, and his trial is set to begin May 3. He was released Monday from jail after posting a $500,000 cash bond. Terms of his release prohibited Morphew from traveling outside of Chaffee County and to not have contact with several people involved in the case.
Suzanne Murphew was reported missing by a neighbor on Mother’s Day 2020. The 49-year-old mother of two daughters was reported missing after she did not return from a bike ride near her home in the Salida area.
She was the daughter of Gene Moorman, former owner of the popular Gene’s Root Beer drive-in restaurant on Scatterfield Road in Anderson.
Judge Murphy released the warrant for Morphew’s arrest that outlined the intensive investigation by authorities.
In April, Barry Morphew stated to the FBI “that he looks guilty from the evidence and God allowed these things to happen”.
“All records checks available to the FBI and local law enforcement indicate as of April 30, 2021, that Suzanne has not used a credit card, nor her Social Security number, nor has been contacted by law enforcement, not flown in an airplane, not crossed a national border, not established utilities or housing, nor otherwise continued in her normal pattern of life for over 355 days,” the warrant reads. “Based upon legal supposition, Suzanne Morphew, based on this lack of proof of life, is deceased.”
Suzanne Morphew’s body has not been found.
In several interviews with investigators Morphew alleged his wife was abducted or left willingly or had an accident while bike riding and was dragged away by a mountain lion.
Within months of his wife’s disappearance, Morphew began selling off the couple’s assets, including property in Indiana for $750,000.
The warrant notes that Suzanne, starting in January 2020, was attempting to separate or divorce Barry and had been involved in an affair for at least two years with a former high school classmate residing in Michigan.
The warrant states that on the morning Suzanne went missing, Barry was observed walking around their property with a handgun and his phone was place on airplane mode.
The investigation determined that Barry Morphew, while in Bloodfield, Colorado, threw away items from his truck at several different dumpsters. He said that was normal and he had a lot of trash in the vehicle.
Three days after Suzanne went missing a friend gave Morphew a business card for an attorney.
The friend informed Morphew that he needed to take a polygraph test.
“I don’t think I’d pass a polygraph,” Morphew said according to the arrest warrant.
Barry Morphew posted a video on social media pleading for his wife’s safe return soon after she vanished.
He was arrested May 5 of this year after what authorities described as an extensive and ongoing investigation that involved dozens of searches in Colorado and interviews of more than 400 people in multiple states.
“Is it possible Mr. Morphew would be convicted? Yes,” the judge said, according to the Associated Press. “Is it fairly likely he would be convicted? … This case could go either way in front of a jury.”
He outlined three possible scenarios: Barry Morphew killed his wife, someone else killed her or she disappeared on her own.
Murphy said there is probable cause Barry Morphew might have murdered his wife and that he had motivation to do so, but the judge also noted that probable cause is the lowest standard of proof in the criminal justice system.