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Volunteer search for Suzanne Morphew comes to an end, no evidence found in connection to case

Morphew has been missing for almost 150 days
Search for Suzanne Morphew_Chaffee County Sheriff's Office
Posted at 6:37 AM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2024-02-05 18:59:55-05

CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. — The volunteer search for Suzanne Morphew, who was reported missing May 10, has ended and despite hundreds of volunteers lending their resources and time, the teams didn't uncover any evidence related to the case, according to Chaffee County authorities.

Hundreds of volunteers from around Colorado and beyond showed up to help with the search, which began on Sept. 24. The search was organized by Morphew's brother, Andrew Moorman, who traveled from Indiana to spearhead the effort. He said he believes his sister was murdered.

READ MORE: 'I'm going to get results': Brother of missing mother Suzanne Morphew arrives in Colorado ahead of volunteer search

The Chaffee County Sheriff's Office said it had collected several pieces of possible evidence that the search teams found, but they are still investigating if the items are related to Morphew's disappearance. As of Tuesday morning, they hadn't found any connections.

In a Sept. 11 press release, Chaffee County Sheriff John A. Spezze said their team was not able to coordinate or lead Moorman's search because of liability issues, but supported the effort. Their crime scene teams remained available throughout the searches to collect any evidence found and to help volunteers as liaisons.

The search ended on Tuesday.

Suzanne Morphew

The sheriff's office said cadaver dogs — canines trained to find the scent of human remains and indicate as such to their handlers — appeared to find hits on three separate properties in the county in the past week. None belonged to the Morphew family.

READ MORE: All Denver7 coverage of Suzanne Morphew case

When each of these three hits were reported, authorities with the Suzanne Morphew Missing Person Investigative Task Force, which consists of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, responded to investigate.

The first one came along the Arkansas River. A dog handler on the private property told investigators that the "dog did not 'alert' to anything on the property but did show interest," the sheriff's office said. With permission from the property owner, authorities investigated alongside the dogs. However, they determined the lead was not viable.

The second hit was on a property near the Morphew home. This was investigated after the same dog team indicated in an area on the property. The investigative team secured the area and provided security for it until authorities with the sheriff's office, FBI and CBI arrived. With the permission of the property owner, they investigated "extensively" but found "no evidentiary significance to the case," the sheriff's office said.

The third and final hit was in an unincorporated part of Chaffee County near Salida, also on private property. A different cadaver dog team alerted to an area on the property and the task force team responded to secure the scene. On Tuesday morning, the sheriff's office, FBI and CBI, with consent from the property owner, excavated an area, but did not find any evidence of value.

Authorities have explained previously that while updates on this case may be scarce, that doesn't mean the investigation hasn't been rigorous since it began. Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze echoed this sentiment again on Tuesday.

“The level of commitment from the entire team from the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, CBI and FBI investigators is unprecedented and unparalleled,” he said. “While the public may not see all of the effort being put forth in this case, I can assure the community that this investigation continues to move forward.”

The investigative team has spent more than 4,000 hours on this case, the sheriff's office said.

All leads are being followed up on, he said.

Anybody with information on this case is encouraged to call the tip line at 719-312-7530. More than 1,100 calls have come into the tip line, the sheriff's office said. In addition, authorities have completed 180 interviews in Colorado, Indiana and other locations.

The investigation into Morphew's disappearance will continue. As of Tuesday, more than 130 searches have been completed.

To date, no arrests have been made and this remains a missing person’s case.