In a strange twist, Suzanne’s husband Barry, who previously had murder charges against him dropped, will get her remains once the coroner finishes the exam
The sister of Suzanne Morphew — the beautiful 49-year-old mother of two from Colorado who disappeared Mother’s Day weekend in May 2020 – calls it a miracle that her remains were found.
Authorities found Suzanne’s remains outside of Moffat, CO – about 40 minutes south of her Salida home – on Sept. 22 when they were on an unrelated search for another missing woman. Her remains were found in a shallow grave before being scattered in a remote field of sagebrush and grasses. Suzanne was positively identified on Sept. 27.
Suzanne’s sister, Melinda Moorman Balzer, was driving when she got the call from Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze. “He told me to pull over.” Then he shared the news that Melinda had been praying for.
This was a “huge miracle, a real answer to prayer,” she said. “I had prayed and asked God specifically, asking for a miracle that she be found. I was grateful to God, and this was confirmation that God answers prayers.”
Spezze had told Melinda that Barry Morphew, Suzanne’s husband, was contacted first, as he is her next of kin.
This case has been anything but straightforward.
Barry Morphew was arrested in connection with Suzanne’s murder in May 2021. A year later, when he was about to stand trial, Chaffee County District Attorney Linda Stanley dropped the case against Barry. However, the state could still bring charges against him at a later time.
Earlier this year, Barry filed a $15 million federal civil rights lawsuit against Chaffee County officials.
A Fresh Start in Saguache County
Now that Suzanne’s remains were found in Saguache County, the case will be handled by a different District Attorney.
Melinda said was grateful her sister’s remains were found in Saguache County and not in Chaffee County, where she and her family endured the “dysfunctional nightmare” of how DA Stanley handled the case against Barry.
When Melinda was told that Saguache County DA Anne Kelly in the 12th Judicial District will now be handling the case, she called it a “two-fold miracle,” adding that “this is a fresh start when and if Barry is charged.”
Never Stopped Praying
Melinda has never given up hope that the remains of her sister would one day be found.
“It’s always been on my heart to find her, just the thought of my sister being in an unmarked grave was hard to bear,” she said.
The El Paso County Coroner will examine Suzanne’s remains for cause and manner of death, which will take at least a month or more, officials said.
In a rather bizarre twist, once the coroner is finished, her remains will be turned over to Barry, as Suzanne’s next of kin. If he chooses not to receive them, Suzanne’s daughters will be second in line. By law, siblings have no legal standing to receive a sister or brother’s remains.
While the family would like to have a memorial or celebration of life in memory of Suzanne to provide closure for friends and the community of Alexandria, Indiana, Suzanne’s hometown, plans have not yet been made.
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With Her Father
Melinda and Suzanne’s dad, Gene, passed away after battling cancer just six months after Suzanne went missing. In May 2021, the family had permanently placed a picture of Suzanne with her dad on his headstone. The family has a plot for Suzanne next to her father at that Alexandria cemetery. And in a bittersweet thought, Melinda says she does not know if they will ever have Suzanne’s remains resting there.
In the End
Part of Suzanne’s story is about how she endured an abusive relationship in her marriage. It was only in the end that she had confided in her older sister Melinda that she could no longer tolerate the abuse and wanted to divorce Barry. Melinda received one of Suzanne’s final texts where she opened up about the nightmare she was living. But, of course, it was too late.
Melinda hopes that from her sister’s tragedy she can help other women struggling emotionally or physically. “One of my do overs is to be very straightforward, honest and helpful” for other vulnerable women who need to lay bare the situations they’re in.
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“Suffering is our greatest teacher,” she says, “pain is the touchstone for our growth.”
Melinda says she’s blessed to have her sweet husband, Joe, and wonderfully supportive friends surrounding her. Her strong Christian faith has helped her through this tragedy.
She has not been in contact with either Barry or Suzanne’s daughters, Mallory and Macy.
“I pray someday I will have a relationship with my nieces and share what kind of woman their mother was,” Melinda says. “I pray for the girls that they have “gracious truthful people in their lives.”
And she prays for her brother-in-law. “I pray every night for Barry and Mallory and Macy, and I pray for Barry’s redemption, that he would come to repentance.”
In Her Own Words
This is a statement by Suzanne’s sister, Melinda Moorman Balzer:
“It’s with mixed emotions of relief that I received the news yesterday afternoon from Sheriff John Spezze that my precious sister, Suzanne Morphew’s bodily remains were found and positively identified. Sheriff John Spezze as a man of integrity from day one of informing me of Suzanne’s disappearance has never broken his word to call me if and when her remains were ever located. Thank you Sheriff John!
“In over 3 years, I have by God’s grace, kept the faith that Suzanne would someday be found. Yesterday, I received my answer to a prayer for a miracle of discovery… ‘Melinda, we have found Suzanne and she has been positively identified,’ said Sheriff John. Emotions flooded my soul…then relief, peaceful relief. This has been a journey which no family ever thinks they will take yet many do. I have experienced that no one is exempt from evil in this broken world. I choose, however, to focus on the next road of this ever-changing journey into finding the truth of what happened to Suzanne on that fateful day of Mother’s Day weekend, May 9th, 2020. We now are closer than ever to the truth.
“I learned yesterday that my sister’s remains are in the capable and caring hands of the El Paso County Coroner’s Office. They have assured me that they will be thorough in all aspects of their work to determine the cause and manner of death in this family tragedy. I believe that in the silence of the Coroner’s Office, my sister will tell her own story of the tragic loss of her own life in May of 2020.
“I close in gratitude for all of the faithful professionals that have continued to persevere and believe that this day of discovery was possible. I know this is only another leg of a long journey ahead, but I believe now more than ever that ‘light continues to shine in the darkness,’ and the truth will prevail for Suzanne, the darling of our family.
“I sure miss you Suzanne, and I am glad you are found.”