Judge dismisses murder charges against Barry Morphew as search closes in on missing wife Suzanne’s body

Barry Morphew is pictured in his mugshot  (Chaffee County Sheriffs Office)
Barry Morphew is pictured in his mugshot (Chaffee County Sheriffs Office)

All charges have been dropped against Barry Morphew just days before his murder trial was scheduled to start, as investigators believe they are close to finding the body of his missing wife Suzanne.

Fremont County Judge Ramsey Lama dismissed the charges against Mr Morphew on Tuesday morning after prosecutors filed a motion asking the court to do so without prejudice.

Dismissal without prejudice means that the charges can still be filed again at a later date.

DA Linda Stanley said in the motion that investigators believe they are close to finding Ms Morphew’s body in a “remote and mountainous” region close to the family home where she was last seen alive almost two years ago.

The mother-of-two vanished without a trace back on Mother’s Day 2020 after she reportedly left the home she shared with her husband in Chaffee County, Colorado, to go on a bike ride.

Mr Morphew told police he left his wife at their home early that morning to travel to a construction job in Denver.

She was reported missing by a neighbour when the couple’s two daughters were unable to get in contact with her while they were on an out-of-state trip. Her bike was found on a trail close to their home.

The 49-year-old has never been seen or heard from since and is presumed dead.

Extensive searches have been carried out at various locations including land around the Morphew’s home and on a plot of land previously owned by Mr Morphew, but her body has never been found.

Her husband was arrested and charged with her murder in May 2021 - almost exactly one year to the day from his wife’s disappearance.

As well as first-degree murder, he was also charged with tampering with a human body, tampering with physical evidence, possession of a dangerous weapon and attempting to influence a public servant

The murder trial was scheduled to begin on 28 April.

According to the prosecutor’s motion filed on Tuesday, investigators have “for some time” been focusing their search for the missing mother on “a single location”.

However, the search is currently being hampered by extreme weather and snowpack conditions.

If Ms Morphew’s remains are found in the location, this could provide crucial evidence to either support or refute murder charges against her husband.

“In typical homicide cases, the fact of the victim’s death is rarely at issue, but in a case such as this, the most influential fact of consequence is whether or not Ms Morphew is deceased,” reads the motion.

“If the body proves to be there, further forensic examination could potentially inculpate or exculpate the defendant, which is incredibly important evidence for the jury to hear in determining the merits of the case.”

In the filing, prosecutoers also argued that the court had excluded their “best evidence” from being presented at trial.

Earlier this month, the judge ruled that 12 of the prosecution’s 14 expert witnesses could not testify at Mr Morphew’s trial and that data including GPS location data, cellphone and truck data could also not be presented to the jury.

Without that evidence – and without Ms Morphew’s body – they cannot move forward “in good faith”, according to Tuesday’s court filing.

Prosecutors said that they had spoken with Ms Morphew’s siblings who agreed with the motion to dismiss at this time.

They had not spoken with the couple’s two daughters “for obvious reasons”, the filing stated.

Mr Morphew was seen arriving in court on Tuesday morning with his two daughters who continue to stand by their father as he has long insisted he is innocent of any connection to his wife’s death.

While the couple’s children – who are both now adults – are supporting their father, Ms Morphew’s other family members have long aired their suspicions about her sudden disappearance and the actions of her husband.

Just four days before her disappearance, Ms Morphew sent her husband a text message saying she wanted a divorce, saying she was “done, let’s handle this civilly”, according to prosecutors.

She had also allegedly told friends about her plans to leave him and had been recording their arguments and his alleged abuse with a recording pen and in written notes on her phone.

Investigators learned that Ms Morphew had been having an affair with an old friend.

Meanwhile, Mr Morphew allegedly claimed to police officers that their marriage was “perfect”.

Days after Ms Morphew’s disappearance, Mr Morphew posted a video message online where he cried and pleaded for his wife to come home, while offering a $100,000 reward for her safe return.

“Honey, I love you and I want you back so bad,” he said.

He later sold the family home where he said he last saw his wife alive.