Homicide police have been called in to help lead the search for Samantha Murphy as the search for the missing mother enters its sixth day.
Ms Murphy left her home on Eureka Street in East Ballarat, northwest of Melbourne, to go running at Woowookarung Regional Park at 7.16am on Sunday. She hasn’t been seen since.
Victoria Police is set to step up its efforts further with the arrival of homicide investigators from the missing persons unit today. The Herald of the Sun reported.
The squad’s specialist officers are called in when a missing person is feared to have been the victim of a crime but the body has not been found.
Its officers have been deployed to some of Victoria’s biggest murder investigations in recent years.
Meanwhile, a jogger who was brutally attacked near where Samantha Murphy disappeared reported that female members of the search party were attacked by “unruly men.”
Sissy Austin, 29, was assaulted by an unknown man last year during a run in the Lal Lal State Forest near Ballarat, just 20 kilometers from where Murphy, 51, mysteriously disappeared last Sunday.
Ballarat mother Samantha Murphy (pictured) went missing after leaving her home for a run in Woowookarung Regional Park on Sunday morning.
A large-scale search (pictured) in and around the woods has so far turned up no trace of Ms Murphy.
Several volunteers, including community members, have also participated in the large-scale operation.
Austin revealed Thursday night that several volunteers involved in the search for Murphy have been attacked by men while alone in the woods.
‘It’s hard. There have been some rogue men in the woods,” he told The Project.
‘Yesterday there were two who were reported to the police for harassing female search engines. A woman had to quickly get into my car.
“So after yesterday, we’re all looking out for each other and really encouraging women who are out looking to go in pairs.”
Austin emphasized that “there is still hope” that Murphy will be found alive.
“There is a 110 percent hope that we will bring Sam home,” he said.
Sissy Austin (pictured on Thursday) was attacked last year just 20 kilometers from where Ms Murphy disappeared.
Sissy Austin posted photos of herself after last year’s attack by a man armed with a rock tied to a stick.
Austin revealed that several volunteers searching for Murphy have been “harassed” by “unruly men” in the woods (pictured)
This Sunday will mark exactly one year since Mrs Austin’s heartbreaking attack.
Ms Austin was 4 kilometers deep in the Lal Lal State Forest when she was attacked by an unknown man armed with a stone tied to the end of a stick.
She only caught a glimpse of him before he hit her head with the makeshift weapon, knocking her unconscious.
She woke up bloodied and covered in flies on the forest floor and had to walk 4 kilometers to her car before calling for help.
Austin suffered post-concussion syndrome and facial injuries so severe they still affect his speech 12 months ago.
“I just can’t believe that another jogger has gone missing in our city and so, yes, the most helpful thing I feel I can do with myself right now is help search for Sam,” she said.
It’s a strange feeling out here. It’s hard for everyone, but not as hard for us as it is for Sam’s family.
“My heart and soul goes out to Sam’s family and if they are watching this, we will do absolutely everything we can to look for Sam.”
Acting Victoria Police Inspector Lisa MacDougall said officers had found “no suspicious circumstances” in their investigation into Ms Murphy’s disappearance.
“That search is ongoing and we are dedicating every resource in hopes of finding Samantha,” he said.
Mrs Murphy (pictured) was known as a keen athlete who visited the woods almost daily.
Murphy’s eldest daughter, Jessica (pictured), tearfully asked the public to continue searching for her mother on Thursday.
Chief Commissioner Shane Patton urged internet sleuths to stop drawing their own conclusions in Murphy’s case.
‘The public should not speculate. They shouldn’t be on social media and they shouldn’t be speculating about what they think has or hasn’t happened,” she said.
Locals in the area have also expressed concern that the mother fell into an abandoned mine shaft, which can be difficult to see on the forest floor.
A line of inquiry was officially ruled out on Thursday after police confirmed that a woman pictured on CCTV was not Ms Murphy, as previously stated.
Victoria Police released CCTV footage on Wednesday showing a person heading northeast towards Yankee Flat Road, near the Warrenheip Road intersection.
The woman was understood to be Ms Murphy who was out for a 20km run through the Canadian State Forest.
However, another runner came forward and revealed that she was the person in the photo.
It was the second time in 24 hours that police had to declare evidence irrelevant to the high-profile missing person case.
Reporters were removed from an area of woodland on Wednesday after officers were alerted to “items” possibly linked to Ms Murphy’s disappearance.
However, it was later determined that they did not belong to the missing mother.
It is understood Ms Murphy was wearing an Apple watch and her phone at the time of her disappearance.
Victoria Police will reportedly bring in missing persons squad homicide investigators (pictured, emergency services in Ballarat)
Murphy’s husband Mick (pictured) thanked the public for searching for his missing wife and urged anyone who knows “any little thing” about her disappearance to contact police.
The mobile phone reportedly rang in the nearby suburb of Buninyong and Inspector MacDougall said “investigations are underway as to whether (the phone) is still on.”
“Obviously phones can run out of battery, but that’s part of the investigation,” he told reporters Monday.
Mrs. Murphy was known for being a keen athlete who ran through the woods almost daily.
A massive search over the past 96 hours has covered areas including Brown Hill, Black Hill, Ballarat East, Woowookarung Regional Park, Buninyong and Mount Helen.
Earlier on Thursday, Murphy’s eldest daughter, Jessica, and her husband, Mick, faced reporters to plead for their loved one to come home.
Through tears, Jessica urged the public to continue searching for her mother.
“Mom, we love you so much, we miss you and we need you home with us, please come home soon, I can’t wait to see you,” Jessica said.
“Mom is a very strong woman and she is too determined to give up this fight.”
Jessica’s father thanked the community for their support in recent days while asking for answers.
“People don’t just disappear into thin air,” Murphy said.
‘Someone has to know something… whether it’s any little thing you might think is relevant, just call the police and tell them.
“It will give us some peace of mind if we have some hope.”
Ms Murphy is described as Caucasian, 173cm tall, of slim build with shoulder-length blonde hair and was last seen wearing a brown/brown running shirt and black mid-length leggings (pictured).
Women joining the search (pictured) for Ms Murphy have been urged to travel in pairs through the woods, never alone.
Ms Murphy is described as Caucasian, 173cm tall, with a slim build and shoulder-length blonde hair.
She was last seen wearing a brown/tan running shirt and black mid-length leggings.
Anyone with information regarding Ms Murphy’s whereabouts is asked to contact police immediately.