Crime

Accused Killer Barry Morphew: Request to Change Bond Over...Bad Cell Service?

A family photo of Suzanne Morphew, and Barry Morphew's booking photo.
A family photo of Suzanne Morphew, and Barry Morphew's booking photo. Family photo via CBS/Chaffee County Sheriff's Office
Despite the damning claims in a 129-page arrest affidavit made public last month, Barry Morphew, who's been formally charged with killing his missing wife, Suzanne, in May 2020, remains a free man, and he's currently living only steps away from the Salida-area home the couple shared — and not far from potentially important witnesses. But after his September 20 release, prosecutors asked that the conditions of his bond be changed for the most Colorado reason imaginable: Cell service in the area is so bad that they're not getting a signal on his ankle monitor.

The September 21 motion, which came to light on October 7, doesn't specifically request that Morphew's bond be revoked, as has been reported. Rather, it's a call for modification intended to prevent Morphew from essentially hiding in plain sight.

The affidavit lays out evidence that Suzanne, who was said to have disappeared after taking off on a Mother's Day bike ride, "took clear, articulable steps in January 2020 in attempts to separate from and divorce her husband, Barry. She told her family and close friends about her intentions, secretly recorded her notes of abuse in her phone because Barry monitored it, confronted Barry in arguments that she secretly recorded with help from a friend and, finally, sent him a text four days before she disappeared saying that she was 'done, let's handle this civilly.'"

After Suzanne vanished, Barry "initially represented to investigators from CBI [Colorado Bureau of Investigation], FBI and CCSO [Chaffee County Sheriff's Office] that his marriage with Suzanne was 'perfect,' and she had no intention of leaving him," the affidavit continues. "Barry's statements about his actions on the days before and after Suzanne's disappearance have been proven to be false and misleading by this investigation."


Prosecutors charge that Barry "knowingly destroyed evidence that his relationship with Suzanne was deteriorating and that he was involved in her disappearance and homicide. Suzanne's bicycle and helmet were recovered close to the Morphew residence, discarded before Barry left town in the early morning hours of May 10, 2020. The investigation to date indicates that these items were not indicative of an accident, an animal attack, Suzanne being a runaway, Suzanne committing suicide, or Suzanne being the victim of a stranger abduction."

Nonetheless, Morphew was allowed to bond out of Chaffee County jail on September 20 after paying bail set at $500,000. He told the court that he planned to move into a former Airbnb at 10987 Puma Path in Maysville; dubbed the "Cushman residence" in the motion, it's near his former home and that of neighbor Jeanne Ritter, the person who first called authorities about Suzanne's disappearance. But on September 21, Intervention Inc., the Salida firm tasked with tracking Morphew's ankle monitor, revealed that its staffers were "unable to pick up a GPS or cell signal" at that address.

The proximity of the former Airbnb to Barry's old house troubled prosecutors, since they'd asked that he stay away from it. Additionally, "the Ritters have made it very clear that they do not want to have ANY contact with the Defendant," the motion states. "Therefore, if the Defendant is allowed to reside in their neighborhood, this will undoubtedly make the Ritters, at the very least, uncomfortable, and possibly not wanting to continue to reside at their home any longer."

Morphew is said to have another property available to him, at 315 Poncha Boulevard in Salida, not far from a courthouse, where cell service isn't a problem. "It makes sense for the Defendant to reside in this residence instead," the motion contends.

Judge Patrick Murphy has yet to rule on this matter — the latest strange twist in a case full of them.

Click to read the Barry Morphew bond conditions motion and the original arrest affidavit.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts