Advertisement

Heartbreaking detail in case of missing mum

Ballarat mother of three Samantha Murphy has been missing for more than a week. Picture: Supplied
Ballarat mother of three Samantha Murphy has been missing for more than a week. Picture: Supplied

A man has been charged with murder as part of their investigation into the disappearance of Ballarat mum Samantha Murphy.

The 51-year-old has been missing for more than a month after she failed to return from a morning jog in the Woowookarung Regional Park on February 4.

Police revealed on Thursday, a 22-year-old man had been arrested in relation to the mother-of-three’s disappearance.

He was subsequently interviewed by police and charged with one count of murder.

Ballarat mother of three Samantha Murphy has been missing for more than a month. Picture: Facebook
Ballarat mother of three Samantha Murphy has been missing for more than a month. Picture: Facebook

Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt, Crime Command, thanked many people in the Ballarat community, particularly local search volunteers and members of the SES and CFA for their support.

“Our thoughts today are with Samantha’s family and friends,” he said,

“Since Samantha’s disappearance at the start of February, a significant search and investigation has been undertaken in an effort to find her.

“This has included a dedicated and committed investigative effort led by the Missing Persons squad and also involving detectives from right across Crime Command, Counter Terrorism Command and Western Region.

“This has been further supported by a range of specialist resources from across Victoria Police.

“To get to a position where we have been able to charge someone is testament to the commitment and dedication from all those areas.

Not a trace has been found since she went for a morning jog on February 4. Picture: Supplied
Not a trace has been found since she went for a morning jog on February 4. Picture: Supplied
MEGA GROUND SEARCH SAMANTHA MURPHY
Phone data has lead police to focus their search on the Mount Clear area. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling
SAMANTHA MURPHY PRESSER
Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt speaks at a press conference at Mount Clear Scout Hall as Search continues for missing woman Samantha Murphy Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Brendan Beckett

Samantha left her Eureka St home in Ballarat about 7am of 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 had not been seen or heard from since departing.

Assignment Freelance Picture Murphy search
Police, SES and volunteer search crews have searched the Woowookarung Regional Park, and surrounding areas, almost every day since she vanished. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Wilson
SEARCH for MISSING WOMAN
Samantha’s daughter Jess Murphy and husband Mick Murphy, speak to media outside Ballarat West Police Station, with Inspector Lisa Macdougall. PICTURE : NCA Newswire / Nicki Connolly

SUNDAY, FEB 4

Samantha Murphy, mum of three, leaves her property on Eureka Street to go for a run at about 7am, just hours before temperatures hit the high 30s.

She was wearing black half-length leggings and a maroon/brown coloured singlet.

This is the last known sighting of Ms Murphy.

Family notify police of her disappearance after she failed to show at a family commitment.


MONDAY, FEB 5

Police and the SES search the Canadian State Forest behind the Buninyong Golf Club after data received from Ms Murphy’s phone pinged in the area.

Victoria Police issue appeal for public assistance to help locate Ms Murphy.

TUESDAY, FEB 6

More than 100 officers from the dog squad, mountain branch and air wing join the SES and CFA personnel, searching the Canadian State Forest area for Ms Murphy.

Ms Murphy’s husband, Mich Murphy, breaks his silence, telling the Herald Sun his wife runs in the area daily.

Locals raise concerns over exposed mineshafts in the area.

WEDNESDAY, FEB 7

Police release CCTV image of a jogger, issuing a fresh appeal for help. This image was later revealed not to be Ms Murphy.

Police uncover "some items" as they search Woowookarang Regional Park, but later confirm that they believe the items are not connected.

Search moved to the nearby Mount Helen area to the east of Geelong Road.

Woman who was assaulted in Ballarat a year prior speaks out, highlighting that her attacker was never found.

THURSDAY, FEB 8

Mr Murphy implores anyone with information to come forward: "People just don't vanish into thin air".

Police Acting Inspector Lisa McDougall tells media that investigators at this stage believe there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the disappearance.

FRIDAY, FEB 9

Victoria Police confirm the “current phase of the active search” will be scaled back over the weekend.

Missing Persons Squad take over the investigation.

SATURDAY, FEB 10, SUNDAY, FEB 11

Volunteers continue to hit the trails in Woowookarung Regional Park after police scale back search.

MONDAY, FEB 12

'Find Samantha Murphy' Facebook page shut down.

TUESDAY, FEB 13

Former Victoria Police homicide detective Charlie Bezzina said the decision to scale back the search indicates police may be looking into a specific lead.

WEDNESDAY, FEB 14

Victoria Police confirm the disappearance of Samantha Murphy is being treated as suspicious.

Despite a significant investigation by police and extensive volunteer searches of the Canadian Forest area, no traces of Samantha had been found.

Last week, police said they would be turning their attention to mobile phones that were in the vicinity of Samantha on the day she went missing.

Police have been using her mobile phone to guide their search for a number of weeks after it was discovered her phone had pinged at multiple cellular towers in the area on the day of her disappearance.

They have used the data to piece together her last-known movements and the movements of other people who were in the area at the time.

Local volunteer groups were due to return to Woowookarung Regional Park again this weekend to search for clues that could help investigators find Samantha.

However, soaring temperatures in the mid-to-high-30s have left search team organisers questioning whether it is a safety risk to send people out in the heat.