Samantha Murphy: ‘Significant’ new search underway near Ballarat for missing mum’s body

Headshot of Remy Varga
Remy Varga
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Police have launched a “significant search” for the body of missing mum Samantha Murphy.
Police have launched a “significant search” for the body of missing mum Samantha Murphy. Credit: Supplied

Detectives have descended on bushland southwest of Ballarat in a renewed search for missing mother-of-three Samantha Murphy who vanished after going for a run.

The new search for the body of 51-year-old Ms Murphy comes amid mounting anger over violence against women after the deaths of three women in about two months in the Victorian city, about 120km northwest of Melbourne.

It emerged overnight that Lachlan Young, charged over the murder of ex-girlfriend Hannah McGuire in the Ballarat suburb of Sebastopol last Friday, was on bail for charges including common assault and aggravated burglary at the time of the alleged killing.

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On Thursday specialist units including the dog squad and mounted police joined the missing persons team as they scoured parts of Enfield State Park, focussing on an area identified by new intelligence from multiple sources.

Crime Command Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt said locating the body of the missing mother-of-three remained a priority for Victoria Police.

Samantha Murphy 51, vanished on February 4 when she left her home in Ballarat East to go for a run.
Samantha Murphy 51, vanished on February 4 when she left her home in Ballarat East to go for a run. Credit: Unknown/Supplied

“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,” Acting Superintendent Hatt said.

“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.”

Earlier searches for Murphy’s body have included extensive searches of the Canadian State Forest while last Victoria Police conducted a large-scale search in the Buninyong area.

Murphy disappeared on February 4 after leaving her home on Eureka Street at 7am and Patrick Stephenson, the son of former AFL player Orren Stephenson, has been charged over her death.

Detectives are combing a new area of bushland for the body of missing mum Samantha Murphy.
Detectives are combing a new area of bushland for the body of missing mum Samantha Murphy. Credit: Remy Varga

Less than two weeks later Rebecca Young was stabbed to death by her partner Ian Butler, who had links to bikie gangs, in Sebastopol in a suspected murder suicide. Two of the mother-of-five’s children were present at the home.

Last Friday the body of 23-year-old Hannah McGuire was found in a burnt out car in bushland in Scarsdale, about a 15-minute drive from where police believe she died in Sebastopol.

Police have charged her ex-boyfriend Lachlan Young, with whom she bought a home last year, with her murder.

Mr Young was on bail at the time of the alleged killing over charges of common assault, aggravated burglary, home invasion and property damage.

His father Anthony Young faces the same charges as well as one count of threat to kill and one count of resisting an emergency worker on duty.

Both are slated to face Melbourne County Court on May 6.

A vigil decrying violence against women will take place at Ballarat Train Station at 5.30pm on Friday.

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