Suzanne Morphew, a Colorado mother-of-two who vanished without a trace while out on a bike ride on Mother’s Day last year, had a prolonged affair before her disappearance, investigators revealed in court on Monday.
The shocking revelation came during the start of a two-day preliminary hearing for the trial of her husband, Barry, who is accused of killing the 49-year-old on May 10, 2020. Morphew, 53, is facing several charges, including first-degree murder after deliberation and tampering with physical evidence, in connection with his wife’s disappearance.
Morphew has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
According to Dru Nielsen, Morphew’s defense attorney, Suzanne was “spying” on her husband because she believed he was having an affair. In reality, Chaffee County Sheriff’s Commander Alex Walker said during cross-examination, the mother of two was having a two-year affair with a man named Jeff Libler, with whom she had attended high school in Indiana.
Walker said that over the two-year affair, Suzanne frequently communicated with Libler and met up with him at least six times in different cities across the country.
FBI Special Agent Ken Harris also attested to the affair on the stand on Monday, stating that he heard two recordings that were made on a “spy pen” investigators believed belonged to Suzanne. In one recording, the Morphews are heard arguing about money. In another, which is five hours long, Suzanne is heard speaking with Libler, according to the FBI agent.
Harris did not go into details about the conversation but said the recording helped investigators determine that the man lived in Michigan. He also said that Suzanne’s best friend of over three decades, Shelia Oliver, revealed to authorities that the Morphews did not have the best relationship.
In a series of text messages between Suzanne and Oliver read aloud in court, the 49-year-old expressed her fears about Morphew and how he “always wanted control.”
“It’s Jekyl and Hyde again,” Suzanne wrote in one message to Oliver about Morphew, according to Harris. “Ugh. I feel like I’m crazy. I just had a conversation with him. Pretty much told him I can’t be healthy and stay in this.”
Police launched an investigation into Suzanne’s disappearance on May 10, 2020, after a neighbor called to report she did not return home after a bike ride.
On Monday, prosecutors showed the court never-before-seen body camera footage from the day Suzanne went missing. In one clip, an officer is seen finding her abandoned bike near Highway 50 and County Road 225, where no blood or any sign of struggle or damage is visible in the surrounding area.
In another video, the defendant is seen arriving at the bike trail that evening, and begins to cry soon after. According to Walker, Morphew told him that “his worst scare was someone picking her up” and described his wife as his “angel.”
Friends and family, however, later revealed to investigators that the couple was having marital problems—including Suzanne’s belief Morphew was having an affair, leading to the use of the spy pen.
Local and federal authorities immediately conducted an exhaustive search over the 2.5-mile area near the Morphew's home in Maysville, Colorado. Police have previously said they believe that a “certain scenario” occurred near her home that resulted in the discovery of her bike and her helmet.
On May 17, 2020, Morphew—who was reportedly out of town the day his wife went missing—released a video pleading for his wife's safe return alongside a social-media campaign to aid in the investigation. He also offered a $200,000 reward for information about her whereabouts.
“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. 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,” Morphew said in the video.
Despite his public pleas, questions began to surface about Morphew's possible role in his wife’s disappearance, including one report that he had scrubbed his Denver hotel room clean around the same time she went missing. Morphew denied the claims.
“People don’t know the truth, so they’re gonna think what they’re gonna think,” Morphew told Fox12 in one August 2020 interview, where he also slammed the media for making him out to be a villain.
Morphew also went after the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, telling Fox21 that he believed authorities “screwed this whole [investigation] up from the beginning and now they are trying to cover it up and blame it on me.”
Walker said Monday that throughout the investigation, authorities received over 1,400 tips and carried out at least 134 search warrants. But despite their exhaustive search, which includes countless interviews with Morphew, the mother-of-two’s body has never been found.
On May 5, 2021, nearly a year after his wife’s disappearance, Morphew was arrested and charged with murder. Days later, he was hit with new charges after he allegedly submitted a mail-in ballot on behalf of his wife for the 2020 election. The ballot for former President Donald Trump was submitted in October 2020—and included the defendant’s signature on the witness line.
“I wanted Trump… to win,” Morphew told FBI agents in April when questioned about submitting his wife’s voting ballot, insisting that she was going to “vote for Trump anyway” and thought he was allowed to vote on behalf of his spouse. “I just thought, give him… another vote. I figured all these other guys are cheating.”