Startling police admission in search for missing mum Samantha Murphy

Samantha Murphy was last seen leaving her home 10 days ago with police now treating her disappearance as 'suspicious'.

The disappearance of Ballarat woman Samantha Murphy is now being treated as "suspicious" and "unusual" by police, 10 days after the mum-of-three was last seen leaving her home in regional Victoria.

The 51-year-old went missing on February 4 after leaving home around 7am to go for a run. However, her family grew concerned when she failed to return a short time later.

Until now, investigators said they've not suspected anything sinister about her disappearance, with foul play being ruled out — but significant concerns were held for her wellbeing. However speaking on Wednesday morning, Chief Commissioner Shane Patton revealed the case is now being treated as "suspicious" since they've not been able to locate any trace or find any leads.

Missing Ballarat mum Samantha Murphy.
Ballarat woman Samantha Murphy has been missing since February 4.

"It's still early days but the concern is obviously there given that we've really got no leads. It's certainly unusual when we haven't been able to locate any trace of her, or any other evidence within that period of time," he said during a press conference.

"We keep saying, 'It's not suspicious' but when someone's been missing for this period of time and we have no trace, well, clearly there must be some suspicions there.

"It's suspicious, whether that means there's foul play involved, or not, I don't know. But obviously detectives are investigating a matter where a woman's been missing for a significant period of time."

Left: CCTV showing Samantha Murphy at her home. Right: Volunteers gather near police, discussing their own plans to look for Samantha Murphy.
Volunteers gather near police, discussing their own plans to look for Murphy as official searches begin to die down. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Wilson

Police search 'scaled back'

An extensive search was initiated shortly after the mother failed to return home on February 4. Dozens of volunteers and search crews have scoured areas of the Ballarat region including Buningyong, Eureka and Canadian state forest to no avail.

However, police announced on Saturday the "active search" for Murphy would be "scaled back" with the Missing Persons Squad taking over the investigation from local police.

SES volunteers fan out to search for Samantha Murphy in Buninyong, Victoria.
The official search involving SES volunteers in Buninyong, Victoria has been scaled back. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Wilson

"We are working with the family, working with the friends, missing persons [officers] are tracing, stepping through timelines, looking at CCTV, examining any information reports we've received from the public," Patton added.

The update comes as detectives from the Missing Person's Unit reportedly attended the Murphy property on Wednesday morning. Murphy's husband Mick Murphy is understood to be cooperating with the specialised unit.

with AAP/NCA Newswire

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