Australian police search area south of Ballarat for body of missing mum Samantha Murphy

Victoria Police is searching bushland south of Ballarat for the body of missing Victorian woman Samantha Murphy.

Investigators said they were focusing on the Buninyong Bushland Reserve based on “intelligence derived from a number of sources”.

Murphy, 51, was last seen on 4 February leaving her home in Ballarat East.

Over the past six weeks, police have searched the Canadian Forest area, closer to Ballarat.

In early February, their search included parts of the Buninyong area.

Those searches involved specialist Victoria Police units and members of the public who volunteered to help.

“Since Samantha’s disappearance, extensive searches have been conducted in the Ballarat area and today we will focus on an area of bushland in Buninyong,” Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt said.

“We will have a range of specialist resources involved, however as we are searching for Samantha’s body, we ask that members of the public do not try and join today’s search.”

Patrick Orren Stephenson, 22, was charged with murder earlier this month over Murphy’s disappearance.

His identity was initially suppressed by a Ballarat magistrate after his lawyers told the court there were concerns about his mental health and fears he would not receive a fair trial.

However, media organisations challenged the suppression order and the application was later withdrawn by Stephenson’s lawyer.

Over the weekend, more than 100 people took part in a run in Victoria’s west dedicated to Murphy.

– This story was originally published by the ABC.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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