Crime

Police charge 22-year-old man with murder of Samantha Murphy

The Ballarat mum disappeared on February 4

Over a month after she went out for a run and failed to come home, a man has faced court over the disappearance of Samantha Murphy. The local 22-year-old fronted up to court in Ballarat after being charged with the alleged murder of the missing mum.

Police arrested the man, whose identity has now been suppressed, at his home in the early hours of the morning on March 6. He was charged with one count of murder and faced court the next day.

Prosecutors on the case asked for 20 weeks to compile evidence to hand to the defence, because of the “significant amount of material” that needed to be analysed. The man was taken back into custody and will next face court on August 8.

Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton told reporters on March 7 that police allege that Samantha, 51, who was out for a Sunday morning jog when she disappeared, was killed at Mount Clear on the day she went missing. 

“He has been charged with murder, so by that definition, we’re saying this was a deliberate attack on Samantha,” Patton said. “He has not disclosed to police where the body is,” the commissioner added.

samantha murphy
Samantha hasn’t been seen since heading out for a run on February 4. (Credit: AAP)

Despite the arrest, the nightmare is still not over for Samantha’s loved ones as the painstaking search to find her continues.

“The investigation is far from over. We’re doing everything we can to find her body,” Patton said. “For the family it’s absolutely vital, and it’s something we’ll be focusing on.”

The man who has been charged is believed to have no prior links with Samantha or her loved ones. The family has come under intense online security since she disappeared on February 4 as armchair detectives have shared their theories about what may have happened. The police ask for this to stop.

“Samantha’s family have been advised of this tragic news by detectives, and obviously this is a tragic outcome knowing that she has been murdered,” Patten said. “In these cases, it’s often families that come under scrutiny. And from the outset, Samantha’s family were under intense scrutiny.

They have been cooperative, they’ve provided everything we’ve needed and they had no involvement whatsoever.”

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An extensive search of bushland around the area has turned up no clues. (Credit: AAP)

The search for Samantha Murphy was complicated by a well-meaning Facebook group.

The administrator of the Find Samantha Murphy page announced she was shutting it down on February 12, after conspiracy theories were shared by some of its 20,000 members.

Psychics, armchair detectives and amateur sleuths gathered online to speculate about how Samantha vanished, with some suggesting the mum-of-three had met with foul play.

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Samantha’s daughter Jess mad an emotional plea for anyone with information about the disappearance to come forward. (Credit: Newspix)

A full-scale search of bushland was pared back on February 10, with the case being handed over to the missing persons squad.

They also renewed calls for any footage taken in the area around the time of Samantha’s disappearance, including from home CCTV and dashcams.

Her family fronted the press on February 8 to appeal for anyone with information to come forward.

“Mum’s a really strong woman and she’s far too determined to give up this fight,” Samantha’s eldest daughter Jess said through tears at the time.

“I know she’s out there somewhere.”

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