SALIDA, Colo. — Four days before she disappeared in May of 2020, Suzanne Morphew sent a text to her husband, Barry, saying that she was “done” with the marriage.
That was the testimony of FBI Agent Ken Harris on the second day of Barry Morphew’s preliminary hearing. Morphew is charged with first degree murder in connection with his wife’s death.
Later in the day, a now-retired FBI Agent, John Grusing, testified that on May 9 of 2020, the day before Suzanne went missing, Suzanne was in her backyard “sunbathing” and sending pictures online to Jeff Libler, a Michigan man with whom she had been having a nearly two-year long affair.
Grusing said cell phone data indicated that when Barry Morphew came home at that time, he began “moving in a pattern around the outside of the house.” Grusing said Morphew would later explain that he was shooting chipmunks on his property. Soon after, Libel sent Suzanne several messages online that she didn’t return.
On the witness stand, Grusing testified that about 12 hours later, around 3 a.m. on May 10, the day Suzanne disappeared, data captured by the electronics in Barry’s truck showed the truck’s doors opening and closing.
Grusing said Barry went to Broomfield a few hours later, presumably on a business trip. But Grusing said while he was in Broomfield, Barry made five trips to a dumpster, where video showed him throwing away numerous bags. Grusing said Barry has never been able to explain what was in some of those bags.
On Monday, Cmdr. Alex Walker of the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Department testified that Morphew had “met up” at least six times with Libler in New Orleans, Texas, Indiana, Florida and Michigan.
They first met in high school in Indiana and reconnected in 2018. Investigators say Libler is a married father of six children who lives in Michigan.
Walker testified that when Libler met with the FBI in November, six months after Suzanne disappeared, he was told that he was not a target of the investigation, and it does not appear that he has ever been a suspect.
Walker also testified that Suzanne suspected that Barry was having an affair but, so far, they have not found any evidence of that. Investigators said they learned of Suzanne’s affair a few months after Suzanne disappeared when they found audio recordings of Suzanne talking on a “spy pen” that she had bought trying to find evidence of Barry’s affair.
The preliminary hearing, which is being held to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial, is the public’s first look at some of the evidence in the case.
Suzanne Morphew disappeared on Mother’s Day last year. During his testimony, Walker said Barry Morphew claimed Suzanne was asleep when he left early that morning for a business trip to Broomfield.
Walker testified that, later that day, Barry sent his wife a “Happy Mother’s Day” text which she didn’t return. When Suzanne didn’t return another text and a phone call, Walker testified that Barry told him he became concerned but did not return home until a neighbor called to say that Suzanne was missing.
Suzanne’s bicycle was found undamaged around 7 p.m. the day she went missing – not far from the Morphews’ house. Her bike helmet, also undamaged, was found four days later less than a mile away, just off Route 50.
According to Walker, immediately after Suzanne’s disappearance, Barry told investigators that he wanted to “help out any way he could.” Walker said Barry also told them he feared that Suzanne had either been attacked by a mountain lion while bike riding, had been “picked up” by someone, or that “something bad” had happened at a nearby recreational vehicle park.
Walker said Barry told investigators that he said Suzanne had been “his angel” since she was 17, that “they loved each other to death,” and that they had a “very good relationship.” Walker also testified that Barry claimed that he and Suzanne had a great night together the night before she disappeared.
But Harris testified that Suzanne texted a friend that she and Barry hadn’t had “a perfect night in a year and half.” Harris added that Suzanne texted that same friend that Barry “isn’t stable,” that she wanted to get out of the marriage, that she would not feel safe being alone with Barry and that she worried about the effect her marriage was having on her health.
According to Harris, Suzanne had been diagnosed with cancer and was receiving chemotherapy treatments at the time of her disappearance.
Suzanne Morphew’s body has not been found, despite a search that continues to this day. The search has included hundreds of people on the ground, as well as dive teams, search dogs and aerial drones.
More than 100 search warrants have been executed, including one of the Morphew house, and law enforcement agencies have received more than 1,400 tips.
Late Monday afternoon, during cross-examination from Morphew’s lawyer, Harris said Suzanne and Libler had talked about marrying each other one day and moving to Ecuador, hoping for a simpler and less expensive life.
According to Harris, Suzanne told Libler she “would wait for him,” at which point Morphew’s lawyer seemed to suggest that Suzanne might, in fact, be in Ecuador right now.
The preliminary hearing is scheduled to last four days. There will be a two-week break and the hearing will resume on Aug. 23.
Barry Morphew is currently being held without bond.
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