CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Barry Morphew, 53, accused of killing his wife, appeared before a judge for the first time on Thursday after being arrested on murder charges at his home near Poncha Springs. As deputies searched his home, neighbors reacted to the news of his arrest and subsequent investigation.

(credit: CBS)

Barry Morphew is charged with murdering Suzanne Morphew, even though her body hasn’t been found.

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More sheriff’s deputies alongside the Chaffee County Sheriff and other investigators, arrived at Barry Morphew’s home Thursday afternoon. The duplex has been sealed with crime tape since.

“Oh, the reaction is you know, shock… as anything. I mean… you go back, and you think about all your interactions with an individual when you hear about what happened,” said Chad Heeter, Morphew’s next-door neighbor.

(credit: CBS)

Heeter said Morphew moved into the duplex next door in October of last year.

“It was a conversation, it was a handshake and exchange of names and then just… we’re neighbors so we were friendly,” he said.

Suzanne disappeared nearly a year ago after leaving her home for a bike ride on Mother’s Day, and family members said her husband was out of town in Denver when she disappeared. Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said in a news conference in Salida a few hours after Barry’s arrest on Wednesday that he doesn’t believe she is alive.

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Heeter knew little of Morphew’s story. He had also moved recently from Buena Vista. Prior to Morphew’s arrest, he thought of Barry as a normal neighbor.

(credit: Morphew family)

“Nothing out of the ordinary, you know he hunted, he had his trucks, and he did a lot of landscaping work. That was his profession that he told me and so he did work around the neighborhood. All this building behind me, so he’s done a lot of work. A lot of contributions to the projects, the home’s here so nothing that would throw me off,” said Heeter.

On Thursday, investigators were in and out of Morphew’s rental. Others were focused outside, near a detached garage and Morphew’s construction equipment.

(credit: Barry Morphew)

While Heeter says he and his family feel perfectly safe, he does have one major concern, echoed by the entire community.

“My heart goes out to his daughters. I just hope that the family resolves this and finds some healing,” he said.

Barry Morphew in court

(credit: CBS)

Barry is facing the following charges: murder after deliberation, tampering with physical evidence and attempting to influence a public servant. He was advised of those charges in his Chaffee County Court appearance on Thursday morning. He was wearing a face mask, along with everyone else in the courtroom, and appeared to be very calm as he was given the okay by the judge to have contact with his two daughters. The judge approved his request, as long as the communication remains civil.

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Jamie Leary