A former homicide detective has explained why police’s scaling back of the search for missing mother-of-three Samantha Murphy may actually mean good news for the investigation.
The 51-year-old man disappeared on the morning of February 4 while out for a run in Woowookarung Regional Park, northwest of Melbourne, at around 7am.
A major search involving several police units was launched but was scaled back on Saturday with locals now tasked with continuing to search for Ms Murphy.
Charlie Bezzina, who worked with Victoria Police on several high-profile criminal cases, said he did not believe the update should discourage the public.
Samantha Murphy, 51, (pictured) disappeared without a trace on February 4.
—It indicates that the detectives are following a certain line of investigation. The fact that they have reduced it should give people confidence that they are following it,” Bezzina told Daily Mail Australia.
“They seem to feel comfortable enough to narrow down this search.” That indicates that, to some extent, they are confident that she is not in that area.
He added that the police would not jeopardize any possible line of investigation by publishing it in the media.
“The only people they have to be honest with are family,” he said.
Some residents have banded together to continue coordinating their own searches.
The former detective said it was still worth it for locals to do so, even for their own peace of mind.
Bezzina added that it was important for Murphy’s case to remain in the public eye to help with the investigation, as police have relied heavily on residents to come forward with any information.
“Clearly the case has decreased in the Greater Melbourne CBD area, with the greatest interest coming from rural areas,” he said.
“It is important to keep research alive in the media.”
Charlie Bezzina, who worked within Victoria Police on several high-profile criminal cases, said it was possible detectives were further along in the investigation than they appear.
Police, the Country Fire Association and State Emergency Service volunteers and hundreds of locals spent six days scouring the bush in search of Ms Murphy, but the official search stopped on Saturday.
Small teams of locals scoured the bushes in search of the missing mother on Sunday, while another group organized to meet at Buninyong police station the following morning, but with temperatures reaching 36 degrees, no one turned up on Monday.
On Monday, the administrator of the ‘Find Samantha Murphy’ Facebook group, which has gathered thousands of members since her disappearance, suddenly announced that she was deleting the group.
Cin Hobbs, who ran the group, said: “This group has served its purpose and we have been given the green light to remove it.”
“This is a huge mission in itself, since I have to eliminate all the members… the best thing you can do for her is to help speed up the process by eliminating yourself.”
There were other Facebook groups dedicated to the search, but none were as large as Hobbs’ group.
Local volunteers continue their own searches for Samantha Murphy.
Before it was removed, locals published maps of the areas they covered during their independent searches and reported their findings.
On Saturday, a person found a black bra cut in half and hanging on a fence and reported it to police.
Members were shocked and confused when they discovered that all of their quest maps and information about the clues they found would be deleted, but no explanation was provided beyond Ms. Hobbs’ original post.
The official police search for Ms Murphy has been handed over to the Missing Persons Team and A large-scale search will only be resumed if new information emerges.