A judge on Tuesday dismissed a murder case against Barry Morphew, the Colorado husband charged in the 2020 disappearance and presumed death of his wife.
Morphew was expected to stand trial next week for the death of Suzanne Morphew, who has not been seen since around Mother’s Day in May 2020.
But Fremont County District Judge Ramsey Lama granted a motion filed by prosecutors to drop the case without prejudice, meaning charges could be filed again at a later date.
Prosecutors said in the motion that the search for Suzanne led them and authorities to a single location and they believe they are close to discovering her body, but faced setbacks because of the weather and snowpack.
"The People were hopeful that the search for, and the discovery of, the victim’s body would be concluded well before trial, but weather has complicated the efforts," the motion reads.
Prosecutors said the remote and mountainous area near the Morphews' home in Chaffee County, about 100 miles west of Colorado Springs, was blanketed with 5 feet of snow "concealing the location."
"As a result, the People cannot safely excavate this area," they wrote.
Morphew's attorney, Iris Eytan, celebrated the dismissal. The district attorney's office declined to comment.
"In court ... was a breakdown in emotions and tears. His daughters and him embraced for quite some time about the news," Eytan said. "The spectacle that's been made of him and his life, it's quite an emotional day for him. He really loved his wife and his daughters loved their mother and they want to know where she is just as anybody else does."
Eytan said she does not think prosecutors will re-file the case, even if a body is discovered, because her client is innocent.
"He's not going to be charged ever again. It's over," the lawyer said.
She declined to say where Morphew is, but said he is "enjoying the freedom with his daughters."
The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, the lead agency investigating Suzanne’s disappearance, said it was "disappointed in the delay of the proceedings."
“As an on-going, active investigation, we will not share additional information at this time. The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office maintains its commitment to this case and will continue to work tirelessly to find the body of Suzanne Morphew," Sheriff John Spezze said in a statement Tuesday.
"I stand behind the strong work of the investigators within the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office and the many law enforcement agencies involved and the strong case we have built. Above all else, we remain dedicated to seeking justice for Suzanne and her family.”
Morphew was arrested in May and charged with first-degree murder, tampering with a deceased human body, tampering with physical evidence, possession of a dangerous weapon and attempted influence of a public servant following Suzanne Morphew's disappearance. Authorities initially said the mother-of-two went on a bike ride around County Road 225 and West Highway 50 near Maysville in Chafee County, but later reports suggest that detail has not been verified.
Prosecutors have said they believe Morphew shot his wife with a tranquilizer gun before disposing of her body. A judge said during a preliminary hearing there was evidence to suggest that Morphew could have killed his wife and may have been motivated because of an alleged affair she was having as well as her intent to divorce him.
Morphew repeatedly said he was innocent and had pleaded not guilty.