Months after Barry Morphew was arrested for his wife’s murder, a trove of evidence has been released, providing further insight into the couple’s tumultuous marriage and the alleged efforts by Morphew to kill his wife and conceal his role in it.
A county judge who is presiding over the case ordered the release of some evidence, later obtained by KXRM-TV, including videos, photos, data, and audio clips that were displayed in court during a preliminary hearing late last year.
During the hearing in August, prosecutors said that the couple was arguing two days before 49-year-old Suzanne Morphew vanished.
The mother of two had been exchanging texts, selfies, and audio messages with an alleged lover before her mysterious disappearance, and prosecutors allege that her fuming husband discovered the messages and killed her, although her remains have not been found.
Prosecutors said that Suzanne snapped a photo of herself at home sunbathing which she sent to her alleged lover, who replied and then never heard back from her.
A spy pen found in the closet of Morphews’ bedroom contained audio clips of conversations including an argument about money between Barry and Suzanne and a five-hour conversation between Suzanne Morphew and Jeff Libler, the former high school friend from Indiana with whom she allegedly had a two-year affair.
FBI Special Agent Ken Harris mentioned the spy pen during the preliminary hearing, stating that he heard two recordings it had captured.
Barry Morphew was arrested in Chaffee County on May 5, 2021, just days before the one year anniversary of her disappearance. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges which include first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and a deceased human body, and attempting to influence a public servant.
But the newly-released photos depict Morphew’s trove of weapons as well as materials for tranquilizer darts found in the couple’s home. Photos show him making a series of trash runs on the day she disappeared at different locations, while text messages paint an ominous picture of an unraveling marriage.
Texts to a friend from Suzanne’s phone just a month before she disappeared appeared to show her wrestling with her marriage.
“Makes me wonder what the young me was thinking,” she wrote to a friend on April 2, 2020 describing herself as a “broken girl.” She later added: “He thinks we’re great as long as he’s getting what he wants.”
In other messages previously read aloud in court, Suzanne described her husband to the longtime friend as “Jekyll and Hyde,” claiming that he “always wanted control.”
Another deleted text from May 6, 2020, appeared to show Suzanne contemplating leaving her husband, FBI agents alleged.
“I’m done,” she wrote to her husband. “I could care less what you’re up to and have been for years.”
In Morphew’s arrest affidavit, investigators said they believed he may have used a tranquilizer dart that he claimed he used to sedate deer as part of the murder plot.
After dart materials and a needle sheath cap turned up during a search of the couple’s home, prosecutors alleged that Morphew shot his wife with a dart and then chased her around their home for hours before killing her and hiding her body, although the tranquilizer gun investigators found in their home wasn’t working.
Investigators also said that photos of a cracked door frame and Barry Morphew’s hands and arm revealed scratches that they believe could indicate signs of a struggle with his wife, although Morphew has claimed the scratches came from tree branches during a desperate hunt for his missing wife.
Photos from inside their home also show an unspent shell casing next to their bed and one of their daughter’s beds stripped of its sheets.
According to court documents, data from Barry Morphew’s cell phone and digital forensics information from his truck show his cellphone moving around the house on Saturday, May 9, the same day investigators believe that Suzanne was killed. When asked about the erratic movements, Morphew allegedly told investigators that he had been shooting chipmunks.
Prosecutors have said additional cellphone data appeared to show that Morphew had switched his phone to airplane mode that day. The following day, when his wife was reported missing, Morphew checked into a hotel and can be seen in surveillance footage bringing items into his hotel room. He had checked in to the hotel because he was working on a nearby construction job, he claimed in interviews, according to court documents.
Shortly after her disappearance, Morphew also posted an emotional video to Facebook, begging for the safe return of his wife, who was last seen leaving home for a bike ride on Mother’s Day.
He had also allegedly told neighbors while on a job site that his wife hadn’t returned home from a bike ride and their daughters couldn’t reach their mom to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. She had recently started mountain biking and her bike was found the same day she was reported missing by neighbors.
“Oh Suzanne, if anyone is out there that can hear this, that has you, please, we’ll do whatever it takes to bring you back. … No questions asked. However much they want. I will do whatever it takes to get you back,” he said in the video. “Honey, I love you. I want you back so bad.”
According to court documents, Morphew told FBI agents on April 22, 2021, that he “looks guilty from the evidence,” while suggesting that his wife’s murder “was a form of God’s judgment” for the alleged affair with Libler.
Morphew was released from jail on a $500,000 bond as he awaits a trial scheduled for May.