CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. — In the month since Suzanne Morphew was reported missing from Chaffee County, the case has gone from national headlines to a few small, local updates every few days. But that hardly means the investigation has diminished.
Wednesday marks one month since Morphew, 49, was reported missing after she left for a bike ride and never returned. The case’s momentum carried into the following couple weeks, but there have been few updates regarding the investigation since late May.
Susan Medina with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said there’s a reason for that.
“There hasn’t been any real new information to relay in the case other than investigators are working,” she said Wednesday morning.
This case remains a high priority for the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office and CBI, she said.
“Our agents are working closely with the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI has a team as well assigned to this. Committed — there’s a high level of commitment to this case,” she said. “You may not see a news release on a daily basis but that doesn’t mean that extensive work isn’t happening on a daily basis. … Countless hours every day by agents and analysts and investigators to determine where Suzanne is and what happened.”
She confirmed that as of Wednesday morning, Suzanne had not been found and that this remains a missing person case.
Investigators are planning a community canvas Wednesday to talk with residents not only to share information about Suzanne's disappearance, but to focus on obtaining any new information. About two dozen members of involved law enforcement agencies will participate in the canvas, according to the sheriff's office.
A quick search of this case brings up many social media posts, groups, discussions and forums. Medina said social media has certainly added a new element — sometimes positive, sometimes negative — to all of their investigations.
She said in a previous case, investigators had to divert resources from an investigation to follow-up on online claims that were “blatantly false,” but needed vetting, nonetheless.
“While the platform is beneficial in some cases, it can be difficult in others,” Medina said.
The best way the public can help is to continue sharing Suzanne’s picture and story online, she said.
In addition, as the Chaffee County sheriff said in a previous press conference, investigators are asking the public to say something if they see something. The tip line for this case is 719-312-7530. As of Wednesday morning, about 500 tips had been called in.
“No matter how small or insignificant something may seem, it could be that key piece of information that help investigators locate Suzanne,” Medina said. “Even if you just recall something that may have seemed out of the ordinary at the time, report that information — it doesn’t matter that it’s a month later. Investigators still want to know.”
The tip line has remained active in the past weeks and investigators are continuing to follow up on tips as they’re reported.
As of Wednesday morning, there was not a need for volunteer search groups.
“They have done a number of targeted searches with specialized investigators and different groups that have come to do searches over the past month,” Medina said. “As for volunteer search groups, at this point, the sheriff was indicating that he wanted to continue to utilize law enforcement resources to conduct those searches.”
Investigators have performed 10 large-scale searches throughout the county, as of Wednesday morning.
The CBI and Federal Bureau of Investigation joined search and investigation efforts a few days after Suzanne went missing.
Five days after she was reported missing, Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said investigators who had been searching an area west of County Road 225 and U.S. Highway 50 outside of Maysville had discovered an item on May 14 that could possibly belong to Suzanne. However, Spezze said the rest of the search on May 14 and following search on May 15 did not yield any other leads.
“Suzanne, if anyone is out there that can hear this that has you, please, we'll do whatever it takes to bring you back," he said as he held back tears in the video. "We love you. We miss you. Your girls need you."
He continued, saying, "I'll do whatever it takes to get you back. Honey, I love you.”
Barry and a family friend are offering a reward for her safe return.
Trevor Noel, Suzanne’s nephew who also lives in Colorado, encouraged anybody who wanted to help to share Suzanne’s story and picture, the "Find Suzanne Morphew" Facebook page, the GoFundMe page, and tip line, 719-312-7530, with friends and family. The GoFundMe is raising money to support search and rescue efforts in the form of meals, lodging and equipment, Noel said.
On May 17, the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office said members of the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Dive Rescue Team searched water sites in the area where Suzanne went missing. That did not yield any new information.
Authorities also put a call out to residents in the area asking them to preserve any video footage from doorbell video cameras, security cameras or game cameras between May 8 and May 12. Investigators said they would contact those individuals if need be.
On May 19, Medina told Denver7 that the Morphew home was being held as part of the active investigation. The search warrant has been sealed by the court. Authorities released custody of the home on May 26.
On May 22, the CBI confirmed that authorities were searching an area east of Salida off Highway 50. The Chaffee County Sheriff's Office said the area is a residential property and that the property owner was "fully cooperative" and was "not connected" to Suzanne's disappearance. The property was not the Morphew home. A white tent was spotted on the property, but the reason for it remains unknown.
At 5:08 p.m. that day, the sheriff's office confirmed that despite online rumors, they had concluded the search for the day and had not located Suzanne or made any arrests.
Two days later, on May 24, the Chaffee County Sheriff's Office said it had completed its three-day search of that property in Salida. Investigators “were unable to make any connection to Suzanne Morphew’s case at this time," the sheriff's office said that afternoon.
This remains an open investigation. The tip line for this case is 719-312-7530.