Missing Persons detectives to take over investigation in search for mum Samantha Murphy
Police have not identified any “sinister” circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a Victorian mother as the Missing Persons Squad takes over the investigation.
Samantha Murphy was last seen leaving her home on Eureka Street in Ballarat East to go for a run in the Canadian State Forest about 7am on Sunday, February 4.
The specialist Missing Persons detectives, who have played a supporting role since the beginning of the investigation, will now take the lead, continuing to work with local police.
Police hold “significant concerns” for the 51-year-old mother, as the search enters its sixth day.
Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt told media the Missing Persons Squad had additional resources available that would aid in the investigation.
He made it clear that police do not believe the disappearance is suspicious.
“I want to be clear that at this time, we have nothing immediate to indicate there is anything sinister behind Samantha’s disappearance,” Hatt said.
“We still have a number of avenues of inquiry to pursue and the search to try and locate her is ongoing.
“I also think it’s important that people avoid unnecessary and unhelpful speculation.
“However, it is especially concerning that we have now gone six days without any contact from her or any potential sightings.”
Investigators widened the search to the Buninyong area today, after spending the past five days searching bushland around the Canadian State Forest.
Hatt confirmed Murphy was wearing a watch and carrying her phone at the time she disappeared.
He said detectives were now speaking with telecommunications technicians but did not reveal details.
Police have again appealed for anybody 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.
Detectives are also urging anyone travelling through the area, particularly between 7am and 7pm on Sunday, February 4, who may have dash-cam footage to also check this for possible sightings.
CCTV that was thought to show her running past a fence is now believed to have captured another local, who came forward yesterday.
But Inspector Bob Heaney told Today that revelation did not mean investigators would “change tactics”.
“So the area where we picked up that other lady running on the CCTV was well within our area of operations, an area that we’d searched anyway previously,” he said.
“It just allows us to eliminate that as a route that Samantha may have taken when she left home.”