Search for missing Ballarat mum Samantha Murphy resumes

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Police will resume their search for missing mum Samantha Murphy on Thursday.

Ms Murphy, 51, was last seen about 7am on February 4 after leaving her Ballarat home to go on a morning run.

Police allege she was killed on the same day, but her body has yet to be recovered.

Patrick Orren Stephenson, 22, has been charged with her murder.

Officers will enter the Enfield State Park area, with Victoria Police saying the search will focus on an area “highlighted by intelligence derived from a number of sources”.

Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt said Thursday’s search would involve “a significant number of detectives from the Missing Persons Squad and police from a number of specialist areas”.

“Since Samantha’s disappearance over two months ago, a range of searches and other enquiries have been undertaken in the Ballarat area as part of this investigation. This includes extensive large scale searches such as we have planned this week, but also smaller targeted searches focused in very specific 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.”

Police have previously combed large swathes of the Canadian Forest area since Ms Murphy’s disappearance, with dedicated locals also joining in the search.

Officers have asked civilian search groups to not join Thursday’s new effort.

Thursday’s development bears similarities to a search of a new area of bushland on March 20, sparked by “recently-obtained intelligence”, police said at the time.

Similarly, volunteer searchers and the public were urged to stay away from that area.

That search area was east of the Buninyong Golf Club, the focus of initial search efforts where Ms Murphy’s phone last pinged.

The search then moved to Mount Clear, further north of Buninyong and closer to Ms Murphy’s home, without any success.

Mr Stephenson was arrested at a Scotsburn home on March 6 and charged with murder the following day.

Police remained tight-lipped about the methods used to identify the accused man, saying they will not go into “operational matters” but added the investigation remains ongoing.

Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said at the time a “painstaking and methodical investigation” led to the alleged killer’s arrest.

“I’m not going to identify what has specifically led us to this man other than to say it has come about from painstaking detective work with great assistance from the public,” the Chief Commissioner said, and added they would alleged the accused acted alone.

“In the interview with the suspect, he has not disclosed to police where her body is,” the Chief Commissioner said in early March.

More to come