Samantha Murphy: Police launch fresh search for missing mum’s body

Holly Hales
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Police search for the remains of slain mother Samantha Murphy in the Buninyong Bushland Reserve near Ballarat, Victoria.
Police search for the remains of slain mother Samantha Murphy in the Buninyong Bushland Reserve near Ballarat, Victoria. Credit: AAPIMAGE

A renewed wide-scale search of bushland near Ballarat has failed to uncover the body of missing mother-of-three Samantha Murph

Victoria Police shifted focus to Buninyong Bushland Reserve, 11km from the regional city today.

Several police vehicles were parked at nearby Royal Park with the main probe near Sandys Hill Road.

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Fresh intelligence from multiple sources sparked the fresh six-hour search, which finished about 2.30pm.

Specialist police units searched the reserve, which is about 6km from the Mount Clear site where the 51-year-old went missing. Rescue dogs and officers on dirt bikes searched the rough terrain which is about 3km from where the accused murderer was house-sitting when he was arrested on March 6.

Ms Murphy, above, was last seen leaving her home on Eureka Street to go for a run in the Canadian State Forest on the morning of February 4.

Police search for the remains of slain mother Samantha Murphy in the Buninyong Bushland Reserve near Ballarat, Victoria.
Police search for the remains of slain mother Samantha Murphy in the Buninyong Bushland Reserve near Ballarat, Victoria. Credit: JOE ARMAO/AAPIMAGE

Police allege 22-year-old Patrick Orren Stephenson murdered her at Mount Clear on the day she went missing.

After examining mobile phone data, extensive searches have largely focused on the Canadian State Forest area during the past six weeks

Crime command Det-Acting Supt Mark Hatt said multiple resources had been directed at the search.

“Since Samantha’s disappearance, extensive searches have been conducted in the Ballarat area and today we will focus on an area of bushland in Buninyong,” he said.

“We will have a range of specialist resources involved, however, as we are searching for Samantha’s body, we ask that members of the public do not try and join today’s search.”

According the Herald Sun, police crews are not returning to the area tomorrow but are expected back in the coming days.

Ballarat mayor Des Hudson said he hoped a successful search could bring some closure to the Murphy family.

“Our thoughts are with the Murphy family because every time this issue is back in the media, they would no doubt ride the roller coaster of emotion, waiting and hoping that Sam can be found,” he said.

Mr Stephenson, a tradesman, was arrested earlier in March on the outskirts of Ballarat.

people pay tribute to Samantha Murphy during a candlelit vigil
Samantha Murphy has not been seen since the morning of February 4. Credit: AAP

He is the son of former AFL player Orren Stephenson, who played 15 games for Geelong and Richmond between 2012 and 2014.

The family home is in Mount Clear, where he often stayed, while he lives in Scotsburn, about 16km from Ballarat.

Police said Mr Stephenson had never met the 51-year-old mum but it has been revealed they may have briefly crossed paths.

After Ms Murphy disappeared, a search began around Ballarat involving trained emergency services workers and hundreds of concerned locals.

They combed dense bush, private land and walking tracks and police set up a base at Buninyong Police Station.

Ms Murphy and husband Michael Murphy and the couple ran a car repair business near their Ballarat East home. She has been described as a caring friend, a valued Ballarat community member and a dedicated mother and had been training for an upcoming race by doing 15km runs.

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