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Judge: Husband of missing Indiana native will go to trial for her murder

An unsealed arrest affidavit argues that Indiana native Suzanne Morphew took "clear, articulable steps" in January 2020 to try to divorce her husband.

SALIDA, Colorado — A Colorado judge has ruled that there's enough evidence against the husband of a missing Indiana resident for him to go to trial in connection with her death. 

Barry Morphew, 53, walked out of the Chaffee County jail on Monday afternoon after posting a $500,000 cash-only bail in the murder case of his wife, Suzanne, whose body has not been found.

On Friday, Chaffee County Judge Patrick Murphy found probable cause for Morphew to stand trial for the charge of first-degree murder in Suzanne's death as well as the following charges:

  • Tampering with a deceased human body
  • Tampering with physical evidence
  • Possession of a dangerous weapon
  • Attempt to influence a public servant

Morphew pleaded not guilty to the charges, and trial dates were set for May 3 through June 1, 2022.

In the meantime, Morphew was released from jail after posting bail. Terms of his release prohibited Morphew from traveling outside of Chaffee County and to not have contact with several people involved in the case. He also had to surrender his passport and wear an ankle monitor.

Affidavit details prosecution's case against Barry Morphew

Also on Monday, the 129-page arrest affidavit against Morphew, which lays out the prosecution's case was unsealed. 

Suzanne was reported missing on Mother's Day in 2020 after she didn't return from a bike ride near her home in Colorado. 

She was formerly a teacher at Hamilton Heights Middle School. According to her family, she moved to Colorado with her husband and two daughters in 2018.

The 49-year-old mother is from Alexandria, Indiana. Her father, Gene, is the former owner of Gene's Root Beer drive-in restaurant in Anderson. 

Following her disappearance, her brother left Indiana and flew to Colorado to help search. But, after more than a year of extensive searches, Suzanne's body has not yet been found.

RELATED: Missing Indiana native's brother heading back to Colorado to search for her, hopes others will join him

The affidavit argues that Suzanne took "clear, articulable steps" in January 2020 to try to divorce her husband.

"She told her family and close friends about her intentions, secretly recorded her notes of abuse in her phone because Barry monitored it, confronted Barry in arguments that she secretly recorded with help from a friend and, finally, sent him a text four days before she disappeared saying that she was 'done, let's handle this civilly,'" the affidavit says. 

The affidavit, laying out the Chaffee County District Attorney Office's case, suggests that "when Barry could not control Suzanne's insistence on leaving him," he shot her with a tranquilizer dart on the afternoon of May 9, 2020, and prevented her from leaving the house until the chemicals took effect, then killed her and disposed of her body.

Credit: FBI
Barry Morphew, during an interview in February 2021 with FBI agents, as shown in the arrest affidavit.

Not long after Suzanne Morphew went missing, her mountain bike was found along County Road 225, at the bottom of a hill, and her helmet was found at another location. Neither the bike nor the helmet were damaged, and there was no evidence of a struggle, according to the affidavit.

Credit: Chaffee County Sheriff's Office
A photo of Suzanne Morphew's mountain bike where it was found after her disappearance, as shown in the arrest affidavit.

The affidavit also included screenshots from surveillance video from a Holiday Inn in Broomfield, where Barry Morphew checked in the day after his wife was last seen alive. Morphew told investigators he went to Broomfield on a business trip.

The screenshots show Morphew taking bags and items from his truck, and then walking them toward dumpsters, and another of him entering the hotel lobby with two shovels that he placed beside the front desk.

Credit: Chaffee County Sheriff's Office
Barry Morphew is seen placing bags and items from his truck outside the hotel, then picking them up and walking toward Dumpsters at the end of the parking lot.

According to the affidavit, a friend of Morphew told investigators that three or four days after Suzanne's disappearance, Morphew complained that law enforcement was focusing solely on him. The friend consulted a defense lawyer, who said, "Barry needed to take the polygraph test so law enforcement could focus somewhere else."

When the friend passed on that advice, Morphew said, "I don't think I'd pass a polygraph," according to the affidavit.

Morphew is next scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 9 for a motions hearing.

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