Home » Top cop’s extraordinary claim about Samantha Murphy’s disappearance as desperate search for missing Ballarat mum reaches a grim milestone

Top cop’s extraordinary claim about Samantha Murphy’s disappearance as desperate search for missing Ballarat mum reaches a grim milestone

A former detective claims police probably have ‘nothing to work with’ in the search for missing mum Samantha Murphy – saying their appeal for CCTV is essentially an admission they have no leads.

The mother-of-three, 51, was last seen leaving her home on Eureka Street in Ballarat East to go for a morning jog in Woowookarung Regional Park, Victoria, at about 7am last Sunday. 

Her husband Mick Murphy, 53, raised the alarm when she never returned in time for a pre-planned 11am family brunch date.

A massive search for the mum was mounted by police, SES and community volunteers before authorities revealed it would be ‘scaled back’ over the weekend.

The hunt for Mrs Murphy was handed over to the Missing Persons Squad and has reached a grim seventh day without a single trace of her being found anywhere. 

On Saturday, police urged the public for help by asking for any CCTV or dashcam footage – even if Mrs Murphy is not pictured in the video.

A former senior police investigator said the renewed plea ‘probably means they [the authorities] have got nothing to work with’. 

Samantha Murphy, 51, (pictured) vanished without a trace on February 4 

The 51-year-old was last seen leaving her home on Eureka Street in Ballarat East to go for a run in the Canadian State Forest at about 7am

The 51-year-old was last seen leaving her home on Eureka Street in Ballarat East to go for a run in the Canadian State Forest at about 7am

‘It just keeps reading as a real mystery… it’s a lot of trawling but they have to do it,’ the ex-cop told the Herald Sun

The Missing Persons Squad is urging anyone with CCTV or dashcam footage in the Ballarat East, Mount Helen and Buninyong areas taken around the time of Ms Murphy’s disappearance to come forward. 

Police believe footage of vehicles, other runners and walkers could be crucial to finding witnesses or people who may have further information to her whereabouts.

‘Even if the footage does not depict Samantha, detectives are keen to review all footage in the areas between 7am and 7pm on Sunday, 4 February,’ police said in a statement. 

‘Police previously urged everyone in the Ballarat East and Mount Helen areas, particularly around the Canadian Forest, to check their CCTV for any possible sightings over the past six days; however, [we] would now like to collect all footage.

‘Despite extensive searches in the area over the past six days, no sign of Samantha has been located.’

The hunt for Ms Murphy reached a grim milestone after authorities decided to scale back the search over the weekend. 

Victoria Police said investigators would remain in contact with Ms Murphy’s family. 

‘The investigative stage of the investigation continues and as any new information comes to hand identifying areas of interest, the search will be scaled up,’ a Victoria Police spokesman said.

Community members volunteered in the search for the missing mother-of-three on Sunday despite authorities scaling back the ground search

Community members volunteered in the search for the missing mother-of-three on Sunday despite authorities scaling back the ground search

The search for Ms Murphy entered its seventh day on Sunday (pictured, members of the public volunteering in the search)

The search for Ms Murphy entered its seventh day on Sunday (pictured, members of the public volunteering in the search)

‘Police continue to be in regular contact with Samantha’s family regarding the developments of the search and the status of the investigation.’

It comes after police sent specialist rescue teams to investigate abandoned local mineshafts in and around the Goldfields area.

It’s feared she may have strayed from the forest trails where she normally runs and fallen down one of the treacherous shafts which are often obscured by bush.

But locals have also said the mineshafts could be used to hide her body if she’s fallen victim to foul play.

Police are also checking the countless local dams on surrounding farmland to see if there is any trace of her there.

‘There’s a lot of unused mines in the area,’ admitted Crime Command Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt.

‘At the moment we’ve got police search and rescue squad involved in the operation [for that]. They’ve been involved in the search since day one.

‘It’s a challenging area and terrain within the area of search operation…it’s also thick and rugged bush terrain.’

A massive search for the beloved mum was mounted by local police, SES and hundreds of community volunteers (searchers looking for clues into the disappearance of Ms Murphy)

A massive search for the beloved mum was mounted by local police, SES and hundreds of community volunteers (searchers looking for clues into the disappearance of Ms Murphy)

Pictured, board information for 'spontaneous volunteers' wanting to help in the search for Mrs Murphy

Pictured, board information for ‘spontaneous volunteers’ wanting to help in the search for Mrs Murphy 

Police sent specialist rescue teams to investigate abandoned local mineshafts in and around the Goldfields area (pictured,  location of mines and mineshafts in the Goldfields area)

Police sent specialist rescue teams to investigate abandoned local mineshafts in and around the Goldfields area (pictured,  location of mines and mineshafts in the Goldfields area)

Detectives from the Missing Persons Squad have also called in an army of telecoms technology experts to try to piece together Ms Murphy’s movements from the phone data available to them.

Superintendent Hatt confirmed Ms Murphy was wearing an Apple Watch and carrying her mobile phone with her when she disappeared.

But he was hesitant to share any information on what the phone data had revealed so far.

‘We don’t comment on that at this stage,’ he said. ‘We’re still working through our expert telecommunications technicians to help us with that.’

It’s understood a local mobile phone tower registered a ping from Ms Murphy’s phone on Sunday after she disappeared but police refused to say more about the timing or location of the phone.

‘We can’t answer that at this stage,’ Superintendent Hatt said. ‘Obviously that is going forward to our telecommunications technicians.’

Superintendent Hatt added there was no information that indicated any foul play was involved and urged the public to avoid unnecessary and unhelpful speculation.

He confirmed the homicide squad was not involved in the investigation as of Friday morning. 

Superintendent Hatt said the homicide squad was not involved in the investigation as of Friday morning. 

Ms Murphy's daughter Jessica (centre) broke down in tears at a press conference on Thursday.  Jessica, along with her dad, Mick (left), issued a desperate plea for her to return home

Ms Murphy’s daughter Jessica (centre) broke down in tears at a press conference on Thursday.  Jessica, along with her dad, Mick (left), issued a desperate plea for her to return home

On Thursday, Mrs Murphy’s husband Mick and eldest daughter Jessica issued a desperate plea for her to return home. 

Through tears, Jessica urged the public to continue searching for her mum.

‘Mum, we love you so much and we miss you and we need you at home with us, please come home soon, I can’t wait to see you,’ Jessica told reporters.

‘Mum’s a really strong woman, and she’s far too determined to give up this fight.’

Jessica’s father thanked the community for their support in recent days as he appealed for answers.

‘People just don’t vanish into thin air,’ Mr Murphy said.

‘Someone has got to know something … whether it be any little thing that you might think is relevant, just call the police, let them know.

‘It’ll give us a bit of peace of mind if we get some hope.’