As the search for missing Colorado mother Suzanne Morphew continues, a fire chief who works with Suzanne’s husband Barry Morphew has weighed in on some pressing questions about the circumstances of Suzanne’s mysterious disppearance.
On Sunday, May 10, the 49-year-old woman’s neighbor in Maysville, Colorado, reportedly contacted police to tell them that Morphew had not returned from a bike ride. The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office launched an immediate search, and the FBI and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation soon joined the effort.
Authorities have released very little information about the search, but said last week that investigators had discovered an unspecified personal item of Morphew’s just ouside of Maysville near Highway 50. And on Wednesday evening, the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office released a media statement confirming that the department had obtained a sealed search warrant for Morphew’s home, noting that it was one of multiple focus areas in the ongoing investigation.
Many of the questions circulating on social media and elsewhere have focused on Suzanne’s husband Barry Morphew, who is believed to have been out of the area on May 10, which was Mother’s Day. Morphew is a volunteer firefighter in Chaffee County, and owned a landscaping business in Indiana before the family moved to Colorado about two years ago. The Morphews have two daughters, who are believed to be high school and college-aged.
Relatives told CBS4 that Barry Morphew had been in Denver, about 150 miles from Maysville, on the day his wife disappeared; reportedly for some type of training believed to be connected to his work as a firefighter.
CrimeOnline reached Chaffee County Fire Chief Robert Bertram, who confirmed that Barry Morphew is one of about 40 volunteer firefighters in the county. Asked if he had any information about a possible training that Morphew had attended on May 10, Bertram said it was the first he’d heard of it.
“Due to [the coronavirus pandemic], our firefighters have not been attending any trainings sponsored by us,” Bertram said, adding that sometimes firefighters will pay for training courses on their own. The fire chief said he had heard, rather, that Morphew had been working a landscaping job in Denver on May 10.
Bertram said he believed that Barry Morphew continued to work independently as a landscaper in Colorado after he moved from Indiana, and said there is high demand for construction work in the area. Bertram also said he has never known Morphew to be dishonest.
“[Barry] and his wife are honest and friendly,” Betram said. “If Barry Morphew tells you something, you can believe it.”
The fire chief has not had direct contact with Barry Morphew since Suzanne disappeared, but has spoken to firefighters who have. He said that Barry is staying with a friend in the area, “pacing around, staring out windows,” hoping for information about his wife. The friend is not a member of the fire department, Bertram said, though some Chaffee County firefighters have seen Barry at the friend’s home since the investigation began.
Bertram said a firefighter in his crew was the first to alert him to Suzanne Morphew’s disappearance, in an early morning phone call on Monday, May 11. According to the fire chief, that firefighter said in the initial call that authorities had found Suzanne’s bike. Bertram did not have any information about when or where Suzanne was last seen, or when she was last in contact with her husband. He also did not know precisely where the bike was found.
Asked if he was concerned about the possibility that Suzanne was abducted, Bertram said, “I think the family thinks that’s what happened to her.” He said he was not aware of any specific threat against Suzanne or her family at any time.
“Her biggest downfall is the fact that she’s so friendly,” Bertram said of Suzanne. “She’s one of those people that wouldn’t hesitate to talk to anyone, to help anyone.”
Bertram went on to say that Suzanne and Barry were both well-respected members of the community, and active in their church. He said Suzanne was known to go for a bike ride on Sunday mornings before church, and said he did not believe she attended church on May 10, though he could not be certain.
Bertram also noted that the fire department is not working with the Chaffee County Sheriff’s office or state and federal authorities on the search for Suzanne Morphew, but said that some firefighters had been volunteering their time to search for the missing woman. He acknowledged a possible disconnect between Morphew’s friends and family and the law enforcement officers conducting the investigation.
“Everyone has their own interpretation” about the law enforcement response, he said.
Barry Morphew has offered a no-questions-asked $100,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of his wife; an amount that was matched by a family friend, for a total reward of $200,000. This past weekend, he released a video statement saying he would do “whatever it takes” to bring his wife home.
“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,” Barry Morphew says in the brief video statement.
“We love you. We miss you. The girls need you. No questions asked. However much they want, I will do whatever it takes to get you back. Honey, I love you. I want you back so bad.”
Bertram said he does not know if Barry Morphew’s two daughters are with him at his friend’s home, or where they might otherwise be. A Chaffee County Sheriff Public Information Officer confirmed this week that family members have not been at the Morphew home.
A social media post on one of the Morphew daughter’s accounts indicates that she was in Idaho the day before her mother was reported missing. A source told the Daily Mail earlier this week that Suzanne’s daughters had become concerned that they could not reach their mother that weekend, and asked a neighbor to check on her.
The fire chief encouraged anyone with information, even if they don’t believe it is significant, to contact the dedicated tip line at 719-312-7530.