CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — The brother of a missing Chaffee County woman started his own search on Thursday — with more than 100 volunteers. Suzanne Morphew was reported missing on Mother’s Day, May 10, after leaving her home in Mayesville to go for a bike ride.
Morphew’s brother, Andrew Moorman, flew in from Indiana on Wednesday to organize a five-day search of the mountainous area where she was last seen. Volunteers met at the Poncha Springs Visitor’s Center at 8 a.m. Thursday and split into groups.
“So what I’ve tried to do is put together the largest search team Chaffee County has ever seen and we’re going to get out and we’re going to search and I hope that we can find something,” Moorman said.
While his goal was to get 1,000 people, the crowd grew steadily on the first day of the search, which included long-time friends from Indiana, as well as new friends from Chafee County.
“I’m feeling hopeful, and sad at the same time. I just hope we get some answers and some closure for Andy and his family,” said Cathy Amenta, a friend of Morphew’s from Colorado.
Amenta, a two-time cancer survivor bonded with Suzanne, while both were undergoing cancer treatment last year.
“I saw her on the last day of her treatment back last year. and she just was a ray of sunshine and she loved her daughters so much. Her daughters were always with her at treatment and they were just like the three amigos,” she said.
Moorman’s group started by scouring the area around the Morphew property. It’s an area investigators have searched more than once, but Moorman is holding out hope that they will find a clue.
Amenta said she planned to be part of the search, all five days and Thursday, joined Moorman as he scoured the area around his sister’s home.
“I do feel like this area has been searched over before us but I still want to walk it again,” said Moorman.
The terrain was steep in many areas but that didn’t stop volunteers from scaling rocks and turning over logs.
A large group from Indiana, where Morphew’s family is from, drove out with equipment to search other areas.
“They brought all kinds of terrain equipment and boats and what not and hopefully we can find something that can help him,” said Alan Anderson, a long-time friend of Moorman.
At this point, Moorman says he doesn’t expect to find his sister alive.
“I had hoped to find her alive. At some point you have to realize, when somebody is missing for so long, the chances of that diminish dramatically,” Moorman said. “There’s always a chance, but I think it’s very slim at this point.”
His biggest fear is finding nothing at all.
“The best I’ll be able to get out of that is at least I gave it a damn big effort,” he said.
Moorman said his sister’s cell phone stopped working the day she disappeared.
“I think her cell phone was destroyed after that. And I really suspect foul play, if you want the truth of the matter,” Moorman said.
“We’re not going to quit looking until we find my little sister,” Moorman said in an interview with Chris McDonough and Mike King of Profiling Evil. “If I have to put on the largest manhunt ever known to man, I’ll do it.”
Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said his office can’t lead the new search effort, due to liability issues, but said Chaffee County and Colorado Bureau of Investigation case agents were on hand, acting in a support role.
“Our [search and rescue] units will be on hand to assist with Moorman search team accountability and other search team coordination issues,” Spezze stated. “Our crime scene team will be available to document and collect any evidence if found.”
In July local, state, and federal investigators searched the Morphew property west of Salida again. At that time, investigators said they hadn’t ruled anyone out as a suspect.
“This case remains very active, as more than a dozen investigators are aggressively working this case on a daily basis,” Sheriff Spezze said in July. “And until we determine what happened to Suzanne, we can’t discount any scenario or formally eliminate anyone from suspicion.”
In May, the sheriff’s office, the FBI and CBI conducted a three-day search at a residential construction site east of Salida. The property owner told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger that Suzanne’s husband, Barry, laid the dirt at the riverfront property.
Officials with the sheriff’s office said they did not make any connection to Suzanne’s case.
Family members say Suzanne’s husband, Barry Morphew was out of town in Denver, when she disappeared. On May 17, he released a video pleading 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,” said Barry Morphew. “We love you. We miss you. The girls need you. No questions asked. However much they want, I will do whatever it takes to get you back. Honey, I love you. I want you back so bad.”
The public is asked to continue to report any information about this case by calling (719) 312-7530.
The investigation is still ongoing. It is still considered a missing person case.