Missing mum Samantha Murphy the 'ideal victim' as disappearance grips Australia

The mum of three, 51, vanished on February 4 after going for a run.

A leading criminologist has described missing Victorian mum Samantha Murphy as the "ideal victim" as her sudden disappearance continues to grip the nation.

The 51-year-old has not been seen since leaving her Ballarat home on February 4 to go for a run in the Woowookarung Regional Park. Despite an exhaustive, month-long search by authorities and hundreds of volunteers, no trace of the mother of three has been found.

Well-known criminologist Associate Professor Xanthe Mallett explained very few missing persons cases resonate with Australians like Murphy's.

A portait shot of Samantha Murphy (left) and a picture of her next a red car from CCTV.
Samantha Murphy has been missing for nearly a month now. Source: Victoria Police

“It is only very occasionally that a missing person case strikes a chord like this,” she told news.com.au.

She said Murphy was the "ideal victim" as going by the information available at the moment, she appears to have been living a "totally innocent life" as a "very normal, very average woman".

In a similar fashion to the disappearances of William Tyrrell and Cleo Smith, Prof Mallett says Murphy's case puts fear into Australians with the belief it could happen to anyone.

“A lot of people could say, ‘that could have been me’,” she said.

Possible killer could be nearby

Veteran crime expert John Silvester agreed that Murphy's lack of "secrets" meant the case was particularly intriguing to the Australian public.

He offered the eerie theory that of the 300 locals involved in the search party, a potential killer could be among them.

"Police will also be considering that one of those searchers is the (alleged) killer in that they have inculcated themselves into that situation to be seen as part of the community, but also keeping an eye on what’s going on," he said.

Another theory discussed in recent days is the possibility Murphy has fallen down one of the city's former mine shafts left behind from a once-booming gold industry. Locals however say Murphy was well acquainted with the surrounding terrain and the idea she may have fallen in accidentally is not plausible.

Police previously announced they are now looking for a body, all but ruling out finding Murphy alive. They said everyone close to Murphy has been identified as a 'person of interest', however stressed that did not make them a suspect.

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