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Bush expert to help find missing mum

The Ballarat mother is believed to have left her Eureka St home in East Ballarat for a run into bushland at about 7am on February 4.
The Ballarat mother is believed to have left her Eureka St home in East Ballarat for a run into bushland at about 7am on February 4.

An expert bush tracker has joined specialist detectives to assist in the ongoing search for missing jogger Samantha Murphy.

It’s been over two weeks since the 51-year-old went missing after she went for a Sunday morning run in Woowookurung Regional Park in Ballarat on February 4.

As frantic locals continue to search for the mother of three, investigators said they have recruited more than a dozen highly experienced detectives across Melbourne-based crime ahead of a major search party on Saturday.

Ballarat mother of three Samantha Murphy has been missing since February 4. Picture: Supplied
Ballarat mother of three Samantha Murphy has been missing since February 4. Picture: Supplied
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Community volunteers have ramped up their search for the missing woman. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Wilson

“Those highly skilled detectives have been selected for their experience in complex and protracted investigations,” a Victoria Police spokesperson said.

“They have not been selected due to the crime theme they currently work...”

“We have not taken Counter Terrorism detectives because we think her disappearance is terrorism related.”

NSW bushcraft teacher Jake Cassar travelled to Ballarat to help train locals for Saturday’s search, which is expected to draw hundreds of community volunteers.

MISSING WOMAN
The search has been scaled back in the Woowookarung Regional park in regional Victoria. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling
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Volunteers at the Buninyong Police station to organise themselves for a search. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Wilson

Mr Cessar told ABC he had previously been involved in the two-week search for missing NSW boy William Tyrell in 2014 and had been watching Ms Murphy’s case closely.

He said volunteers will be shown to drop pins to mark locations on their phones and will be given whistles and a fluorescent vests.

“We will be looking for any evidence we can find, a mobile phone, clothing, anyone we can speak to, any information we can get to keep this issue alive,“ he said.

Police have urged members of the community to contact them if any items are located.

It's understood investigators are also currently reviewing CCTV footage as part of their ongoing investigations.

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Ms Murphy left for a jog in the park and did not return for a family event. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

Criminologist Dr Xanthe Mallett said it was very “unusual and suspicious” that Ms Murphy vanished without leaving a trace or an electronic device behind.

“We have 18 days. They acknowledged they didn’t know what happened to Samantha after she disappeared. They do believe she made it to the forest, but what happened after that is a mystery,” Dr Mallet told Sunrise.

She said enlisting the help of specialists showed that police may be struggling to make ends in the case.

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Volunteers will get whistles and fluoro vests to search. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Wilson

“Eighteen days is a very long time, but I haven’t given up hope yet. You have to remember that Cleo Smith was recovered after 18 days in late 2021 when she was abducted. So up till there’s proof otherwise, I remain hopeful Samantha will be recovered alive.”

The 51-year-old mum-of-three never returned after going for a run in the forest near her East Ballarat home.

Her family raised the alarm with police after she didn’t turn up in time for a family event scheduled for later that day.