In the annals of true crime, the case of missing Salida mother, Suzanne Morphew, has recently captured the national imagination. America’s whodunnit sub-culture, a diverse collection of amateur sleuths and crime story geeks, is snooping around the intriguing case and is determined to figure out what really happened.
Not since JonBenet Ramsey’s 1996 death, in an upmarket Boulder home, has the internet rumor mill been so focused on a Colorado mystery. How, the true crimers agonize, could an everyday, suburban mom just up and vanish. And of course, they ask, who, if anyone, might know where Suzanne is?
The 49-year-old mother of two was last seen on Mother’s Day, May 10, 2020, when it is speculated she disappeared while taking an innocent bike ride. Later that evening, a neighbor alerted authorities when didn’t return home.
A search turned up Suzanne’s bicycle along with an additional “personal item.” Investigators have not described the personal item or released information about the condition of the bike.
Authorities also scoured a nearby body of water while investigators searched for clues and removed bags of evidence at the Morphew family home, where she lived with her husband and two teenage daughters.
True crime junkie, Jill Miller, better known by her YouTube moniker, Jill the Private Investigator, told this blog the case caught her attention because it seemed very odd that a mother would go missing on Mother’s Day.
“It just seemed so sinister,” says Miller who has made several videos about Suzanne’s disappearance. “A lot of information has been coming out. That’s what kind of drew me to it. I wanted to find out the when, where and why to this case.”
Miller, who is based in Kentucky and is currently studying to get her PI license, said her fascination with the case had driven her to contact several of Suzanne’s friends.
“From what I understand, Suzanne was just the sweetest, most passive, soft-spoken human being.”
But as the search continues, scuttlebutt about the case has gripped Salida’s bars and art galleries, and, at the same time, generated endless chatter across the country on true crime websites and podcasts such as True Crime Daily, True Crime All The Time, Stitcher and Murder Murder News.
The case has also drawn national coverage in tabloid outlets including People magazine, the New York Post and the Daily Mail.
Former Colorado Springs police lieutenant, Joe Kenda, star of Investigation Discovery show, Homicide Hunter, says true crime resonates for a number of reasons.
“For thousands of years, people have gathered around the fire and said, ‘Tell me a story,’” he says. “If you tell it well, they’ll ask you tell another one. If you can tell a story about real people involved in real things, that draws their interest more.”
As in the infamous Laci Peterson case, the pregnant woman whose remains washed up on the shore of San Francisco Bay in 2002, much of the gossip about Suzanne’s disappearance has focused on the husband: in this case, Barry Morphew.
In the days after Suzanne went missing, Barry, who says he has been interviewed for more than 30 hours by law enforcement, posted an emotion video on Facebook where he pleaded for his wife’s safe return.
“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. Your girls need you. No questions asked, however much they want. I will do whatever it takes to get you back.”
While this blog does not suggest Barry is responsible for Suzanne’s disappearance – authorities say they have no suspects – many others have, joining the dots with speculation and colorful tidbits.
They think Barry’s alibi is curious – he was far away in Broomfield on a Mother’s Day Sunday to carry out a minor landscaping job. The hotel room he stayed in on the trip smelled of chlorine. And construction noise was heard in the middle of the night, the day before Suzanne went missing, at a property connected to Barry.
Says Jill the Private Investigator, “Every time he came out on the news it was to defend himself against people like myself. He says the media is making him out to be a bad guy. But I’m sorry, it’s his words and actions causing it.”
For their part, the Chaffee County Sheriff, the FBI and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, have released little information about their joint six-month-old investigation. The white noise has prompted criticism about their commitment to bringing Suzanne home.
“While the public may not see all of the effort being put forth in this case,” said a defensive local sheriff, John Spezze, in a recent press release. “I can assure the community that this investigation continues to move forward.”
The sheriff continued by listing data points to make his case – 1,123 tips received, 180 interviews conducted in Colorado and other states, 130-plus searches conducted and 4,000 hours spent by investigators on the case.
But, so many lament, still no sign of Suzanne.