The husband of a missing mom in small-town Colorado had been ‘friendly’ with local cops prior to his wife’s disappearance, an insider has claimed – suggesting the friendship is what spurred officers to mishandle their investigation in the first place.
Speaking about the case surrounding still-lost Suzanne Morphew, the source with knowledge on the probe into her death painted a grim picture as to why her husband, 55-year-old Barry Morphew, was acquitted last year.
At that point, the owner of a lucrative Denver landscaping business had been the sole suspect in the case, arrested for murder almost a year to the day after Suzanne, 49, suddenly vanished while on a bike ride in their native Salida.
The mom-of-two’s disappearance happened on Mother’s Day 2020, and sparked a national furor for the better part of year after her body was never found.
The outcry looked to alleviate with Morphew’s arrest in May 2021, but unraveled last year when prosecutors dropped all charges against the Salida dad. The decision, delivered by a local judge, came after the local district attorney’s office was sensationally over violations during discovery.
Speaking about the case surrounding still-lost Suzanne, a source with knowledge on the probe painted a grim picture as to why 55-year-old Barry was acquitted – claiming he had been ‘friendly’ with cops prior to his wife’s disappearance, who then purposely botched the probe
The insider went on to add that ‘Suzanne was [also] friends with some of the wives’ of officers on the force, including Sheriff John Spezze (seen here). The retired Denver cop has declined to comment on his office’s now-three-year-long probe, which has failed to garner a conviction
Speaking to The Sun Sunday, the insider – as well as an unnamed resident of the town of 5,800 – laid blame on sheriffs for the probe falling apart, claiming the Chaffee County force purposely ‘botched’ the investigation.
‘They botched the investigation in the first few days by failing to treat that home as a crime scene,’ said the tipster, who spoke under the condition of anonymity.
That said, the source did confide that he used to work in local law enforcement, during which time he witnessed a chummy dynamic between the town’s police force and Morphew – a volunteer at Chaffee County’s fire house.
‘I know Barry was friendly with a lot of people in the sheriff’s department through his work volunteering at the local fire department,’ the insider said, less than three weeks after Mophew filed a federal lawsuit against Chaffee County Sheriff’s office for ‘irreparably’ tarnishing his ‘name and reputation’ after his arrest in 2021.
The insider went on to add that ‘Suzanne was [also] friends with some of the wives’ of officers on the force, including Sheriff John Spezze.
Spezze, 62, has headed the force since 2015, after retiring from the city of Denver’s Police Department, where he worked as an officer for 27 years.
He, along with a cohort of local officials, are named in the sensational civil lawsuit filed by Mophew over his arrest – and subsequent five months of incarceration.
In the 185-page filing – which demands $15million in damages – accused Spezze and figures such as Undersheriff Andy Rohrich, and 17th Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley of ‘conspiring to withhold and fabricate evidence for a crime he ‘didn’t commit.’
Sheriff Spezze has since declined to comment on the case and all matters surrounding it, saying only that his department’s probe – three years later – remains ‘active and ongoing.’
Morphew was arrested last May before being released on bond and ordered to wear an ankle monitor as a condition of his release
‘It’s the sheriff’s office who should be investigated,’ said one outraged local of the repeated flubs that saw a judge drop all charges against Morphew without prejudice – meaning they can be refiled at any time
In comments made to The Sun, the source said Spezze’s drawn out probe has been by design – because of the Morphew’s previous good standing with the department.
‘They were all swimming in the same social circles,’ the insider said of the couple, who have two daughters. ‘That’s why it took them so long to charge him in the first place.’
Several other locals in the tight-knight community a two hours’ drive east from Colorado Springs agreed with the insiders’ assessment that members of Spezze’s department purposely mishandled their probe into Suzanne’s disappearance to give their then-friend a break.
‘It’s the sheriff’s office who should be investigated,’ said one outraged local of the repeated flubs that saw a judge drop all charges against Morphew, without prejudice – meaning they can be refiled at any time.
‘They’re corrupt and they’ve been that way for years,’ the citizen alleged.
Attempting to standup his theory, the unnamed insider pointed to recent assertions from Spezze’s department that insisted officers were ‘close’ to finding Suzanne’s remains on a mountain not far from where she vanished – but needed to wait for a snowpack to melt.
Those comments were made more than a year ago, and Suzanne’s body has yet to be found. The source told the Sun that this is because the department was lying.
‘And this whole thing about them being close to finding her body was bulls**t. It’s all lies. You can’t trust a thing they say.”‘
Suzanne vanished without a trace on May 10, 2020 after setting off from her home on a Mother’s Day bike ride
Suzanne and her husband had two daughters together. She vanished on Mother’s Day in 2020
Meanwhile, Morphew is still considered a suspect in the case, according to Prosecutor Mark Hurlbert – who is also named in the sensational civil lawsuit filed a few weeks ago.
The 185-page complaint claims that the authorities conspired to wrongly arrest Morphew, that they fabricated evidence, concealed exculpatory evidence and conducted a reckless investigation, all which led to Morphew being wrongly prosecuted.
‘As result of the Defendants’ conduct Barry was charged, arrested, and prosecuted, and his property seized, for a crime he did not commit,’ the lawsuit says.
‘As result of the Defendants’ conduct Barry spent five months in jail, approximately 6 more months wearing a GPS ankle monitor with severe restrictions on his movement, and almost a year defending against the criminal charges. To this date, Barry’s property remains in the CCSD’s possession.’
The lawsuit claims that Morphew’s ‘name and reputation has been irreparably tarnished in Colorado and all around the country.’
Those named in the lawsuit including Chaffee County, the sheriff’s office and board of commissioners, 11th Judicial District Attorney Stanley and her staff, and Colorado Bureau of Investigation and FBI agents.
Morphew leaves a Fremont County court building in Canon City, Colo., with his daughters, Macy, left, and Mallory, after charges against him in the presumed death of his wife were dismissed, Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Morphew was sentenced to 32 hours community service and order to pay a $600 fine after taking a plea deal
Barry Morphew (pictured in his booking photo last May) pleaded guilty Thursday to casting a mail-in ballot for Donald Trump in his missing wife’s name in October 2020
Last month, Morphew’s attorney Iris Eytan filed a complaint against Judge Stanley and her office, accusing the prosecutors of misconduct and unethical behavior during the case.
‘Barry suffered the indignity of being wrongfully arrested, jailed and prosecuted for a crime he did not commit,’ Eytan said in a statement Tuesday. ‘We will not rest until those responsible for this miscarriage of justice are held accountable.’
The complaint alleged that six prosecutors pursued ‘a political agenda of locking up Mr. Morphew in response to a media frenzy that prosecutors themselves helped create’ after Suzanne’s disappearance.
Morphew’s lawyers also asked for the prosecutors to face punishment up to and including disbarment.
They said a decision was made to arrest Morphew in 2021 even though DNA from an unknown male was found in Suzanne Morphew’s SUV. They also cited Stanley’s appearances on true crime podcasts such as ‘Profiling Evil’ to talk about the case.
The office had opened an investigation into Stanley last year because of complaints arising from the Morphew prosecution, and the lawyers´ complaint will now become part of that investigation, attorney regulation counsel Jessica Yates said.
However, another prosecutor in the office, Mark Hurlbert, who is one of those named in the complaint, said he had not seen it yet.
‘We will fight it vigorously because we did nothing wrong,’ he said.
After his wife’s disappearance, Morphew issued a series of tearful pleas for her return but soon became embroiled in the police investigation, with DailyMail.com reporting that Colorado Bureau of Investigation officials had descended on the home just three days after she went missing.
He had claimed to be on a landscaping job in Broomfield, Colorado, when his wife vanished but as DailyMail.com revealed in September 2020, co-workers were suspicious of his movements and said he had left his Holiday Inn hotel room stinking of bleach.
He also left a trash can filled with shredded correspondence that was later turned over to the CBI.
Morphew began the legal process of having Suzanne’s assets and their joint property transferred to him shortly after she vanished.
In November 2020, he cast a vote for Donald Trump in her name claiming she would have done it anyway.
Investigators later said Morphew had told them he did it ‘just because I wanted to vote for Trump to win. I just thought, ‘Give him another vote.’
‘I figured all these other guys were cheating. I figured she (Suzanne) was going to vote for Trump anyway.’
A year after Suzanne disappeared, Morphew would be arrested and charged with her murder – and despite his recent acquittal in court, remains a key suspect.
A hearing in September 2020 shredded Morphew’s description of his marriage to Suzanne as being a happy and loving one, with investigators revealing she had been having a long-running affair with married dad-of-six Jeff Libler.
Investigators long suspected the area of the Garfield Mine near Salida as a possible location for Suzanne’s body, after Morphew admitted taking a detour there around the time of her disappearance
Morphew is accused of murdering his wife, Suzanne, right, who went missing on Mother’s Day in 2020. Her body has never been found
Libler, who has never spoken about Suzanne, was due to testify at Morphew’s trial and received Suzanne’s final photo – a bikini selfie taken on May 9, 2020 in the garden of her $1.3m home.
The court also heard how spent tranquilizer cartridges were found inside the laundry room at the Morphew home, that Morphew had scratches on his arms in the days after Suzanne’s disappearance and that she had complained of his controlling behavior to her family.
A series of text messages revealed how anguished Suzanne had discussed ending her marriage in conversations with friends and called Morphew ‘a Jekyll and Hyde character’.
His defense attorneys spent most of the hearings attempting to pick holes in the prosecution case – pointing to unknown male DNA discovered in the glove box of her car and suggesting a link to a sex offender arrested in Arizona.
Morphew’s case was then scheduled for a full trial beginning May 1 but it was dramatically halted a week before it was due to start when prosecutors announced they were tossing the case.
The move came after the judge due to preside over the trial banned the prosecution from using a series of witnesses on the grounds of discovery violations, while police said they were close to finding Suzanne’s remains and were waiting for the snow to melt.
The case was then dismissed without prejudice, despite objections from the defense, which means it could still be re-filed should new evidence come to light.
More than a year later, Suzanne Morphew’s body has still not been found.
Her husband and daughters last week broke their silence three years after she vanished during an appearance on ABC News’ Good Morning America, during which Morphew insisted Suzanne had made a series ‘bad decisions’ while struggling with drugs and chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma that eventually led to her disappearance.
Barry Morphew sits with his daughters Mallory (right) and Macy (left) as they break their silence following the disappearance of their mom and murder charges being dropped against the dad
Barry Morphew, 55, the husband of Suzanne Morphew (right) has since filed a civil rights lawsuit seeking $15M claiming he was wrongfully charged with Colorado mom’s disappearance and murder
“It’s very hurtful to lose your reputation and your integrity.”
Barry Morphew and his daughters speak out for the first time since filing a $15 million lawsuit after murder charges against him were dropped. @eriellereshef has more. pic.twitter.com/v0Fh9LD4Ri
— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 15, 2023
‘I know that she was going through chemotherapy for the last couple years before her disappearance,’ the father-of-two said, flanked by he and his wife’s two teenage daughters.
‘I know she was going through some hard things and made some bad decisions. She was really having trouble with the chemotherapy and the drugs.’
Barry said that his heart was ‘broken’ when he found out his wife was having an affair with a man who she went to high school with.
Holding back his tears, he told ABC News: ‘My heart was broken. I didn’t believe it.’
When asked how the ordeal has left them, her daughters Mallory and Macy told ABC: ‘Very very sad. Very confused. So traumatic. Literally our worst nightmare.’