Fresh lead sparks renewed search for missing mum Samantha Murphy

The mother-of-three vanished without a trace in February and despite a man being charged over her disappearance, her body has not been found.

Missing Victorian mother Samantha Murphy is pictured, as police renew the search for her body.
Samantha Murphy, 51, has not been seen since early February. Source: NCA Newswire

Almost four months after missing Victorian mother Samantha Murphy disappeared on a morning jog, and after numerous failed search attempts, police have again redirected their efforts on the ground in Ballarat.

The 51-year-old year old mum was last seen almost four months ago after she left her home to go for a run on the morning of February 4, and despite a man being charged over her disappearance, no trace of Murphy has so far been found.

Patrick Orren Stephenson was arrested and charged in March, accused of killing the mother-of-three at Mount Clear on the day that she went missing. Weeks of widespread searches from police and members of the public turned up no results, with officers today revealing a new "targeted search" was underway.

Crews searching for missing mother Samantha Murphy in Ballarat.
Despite exhaustive, months-long searches for answers, Samantha Murphy hasn't been found. Source: NCA Newswire

"Police are undertaking a targeted search in the Ballarat area today as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Samantha Murphy," Victoria Police said in a statement, asking "that members of the public do not attend the search at this time."

"We are not in a position to supply further specific details of today's operational activity at this time," the said. Detectives "have been regularly undertaking a range of enquiries and small-scale searches as part of the current investigation" since Murphy went missing, the statement added. Murphy's family have been notified of the new search.

Police have deployed an excavator in their renewed search, with detectives from Victoria’s Missing Persons Squad and a range of specialists involved.

The mother has been described as a physically and mentally strong woman who was devoted to her three children. She left her Eureka St home in Victoria’s Central Highlands at bout 7am on February 4 to go for a 14km run through the nearby Woowookarung Regional Park.

She is believed to have reached the Mount Clear area, adjacent to the park, about an hour after leaving home, but has not been seen or heard from since.

Search efforts for the 51-year-old seen here in a paddock in Ballarat.
Police have asked the public not to participate in today's search. Source: NCA Newswire

According to court documents, Stephenson, 22, allegedly murdered Murphy within the Mount Clear area — where he resides — the day she vanished. Murphy’s family reported her missing to police later that day after she failed to attend a brunch.

Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said earlier police would allege the accused man acted alone.

"He has been charged with murder so, by definition, we are saying this was a deliberate attack on Samantha,” he said. "In the interview with the suspect, he has not disclose to police where her body is."

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