Samantha Murphy: Fresh intelligence sparks new search for missing mum

The missing mother has not been since since the morning of February 4, when she left her Ballarat home to go for a run.

A month after a man was charged with the murder of missing Victorian mother Samantha Murphy, police have again ramped up search efforts to locate her body, which so far have proved fruitless since she went missing on February 4.

Sparked by fresh information, officers on Thursday revealed a "significant" search would resume at Enfield State Park near Ballarat with a focus on "an area highlighted by intelligence derived from a number of sources".

Despite hundreds of concerned locals previously assisting authorities in the mammoth search, this time around police have asked members of the public to abstain. The state park is about 20 kilometres south of Murphy's home, where she left the morning of her disappearance to go for a run.

Samantha Murphy is pictured here in a 50/50 split. The mother has not been seen since early February.
Samantha Murphy, 51, has not been seen since early February. Source: NCA Newswire

Fresh intelligence sparks ramped up search for Samantha Murphy

Officers out scouring the area include those who specialise in missing persons, search and rescue, road policing, local members, the public order response team, mounted branch and dog squad.

The Murphy family was made aware the search was being undertaken. The new probe follows unsuccessful efforts in the Canadian State Forest over the past months.

The 51-year-old was last seen leaving her home on Eureka Street in Ballarat East to go for a run in Canadian State Forest on the morning of February 4. Police in March charged 22-year-old tradesman Patrick Orren Stephenson with her murder at Mount Clear on the day she went missing. He will return to court in August.

Seen here is a group searchers in Ballarat looking for traces of Samantha Murphy.
Police have again ramped up search efforts to locate Samantha Murphy's body, which so far have proved fruitless since she went missing on February 4. Source: NCA Newswire

Stephenson is the son of Orren Stephenson, who played 15 AFL games for Geelong and Richmond between 2012 and 2014. Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt described Thursday's effort as an "extensive" large-scale search that built on targeted searches in other areas.

"I want to assure those in the Ballarat community that police remain focused on doing everything we can to return Samantha to her family," he said.

Searchers in Ballarat looking for traces of Samantha Murphy.
Despite an exhaustive, month-long search for answers Samantha Murphy hasn't been found. Source: NCA Newswire

The regional western Victorian city has been rocked by a series of tragedies this year including Ms Murphy's disappearance, a mine collapse that claimed the life of miner Kurt Hourigan, the death of mum-of-five Rebecca Young and bushfires in surrounding areas. On April 5, 23-year-old Hannah McGuire was found dead in a burnt out car at Scarsdale.

Ballarat locals plan to stage a rally in the centre of the city on Friday evening as an act of solidarity in the fight to end violence against women. A description of the event on social media said women do not feel safe in Ballarat.

with AAP

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