Samantha Murphy: Man charged with murder in missing Australian woman’s case gripping nation

Missing woman Samantha Murphy’s husband says he is ‘relieved’ after suspect’s arrest

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Thursday 07 March 2024 10:37 GMT
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Australian woman Samantha Murphy was last seen on 4 February
Australian woman Samantha Murphy was last seen on 4 February (Screengrab/ 9 News Australia)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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An Australian man has been charged with the murder of a woman who went missing a month ago as investigators continued to search for her remains.

Samantha Murphy, 51, was last seen on 4 February before she left her house for a run in Ballarat, Victoria.

The disappearance of the mother of three children has gripped the entire nation as law enforcement officials failed to find her whereabouts despite a month-long search.

Surveillance footage captured on the morning she vanished showed the woman wearing a brown singlet and black leggings outside her home. Nearly 30 minutes into her run, her phone data showed Murphy reached the Mount Clear area, located 7km from her house.

The woman’s phone and Apple watch, which she was carrying at the time of her disappearance, have not been located either.

Victoria police said on Wednesday they arrested the 22-year-old son of a former Australian Football League player, without providing additional details. He appeared in the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Thursday afternoon.

Police chief commissioner Shane Patton said an alleged "deliberate attack" caused the death of the woman. Murphy was killed the day she went missing during her run, he said.

“I’m not going to go into the details, motive or any of those further details in regards to what has or hasn’t happened when she has [allegedly] been killed," he said.

"I will simply say he has been charged with murder, which by its definition means it was an intentional act."

The suspect was not known to the Murphy family, Mr Patton said, adding that he has so far not disclosed the location of her body.

Michael Murphy, the husband of the victim, told reporters that he was relieved after learning about the suspect's arrest.

“It’s like someone’s let the pressure valve off sort of thing. It hasn’t been a good nearly five weeks," Mr Murphy said, according to the Australian Associated Press.

The chief commissioner thanked the locals along with detectives from the missing persons squad, crime and counter-terrorism commands and the police from western region for their “painstaking, methodical investigation”.

"Samantha’s disappearance had a profound impact on the Ballarat community,” Mr Patton said. “Some cases, some disappearances, some murders, bring out outpourings of grief and we have seen that here.”

Mr Patton added their work was “far from over” and that authorities would continue to “gather further evidence” and continue the probe at “a very heavy pace”. Locals with surveillance or dash-cam footage have been asked to speak to the law enforcement authorities.

Murphy’s eldest daughter described her mother as a “really strong woman” who was “far too determined to give up this fight”.

“Mum, we love you so much, and we miss you. We need you at home with us. Please come home soon. I can't wait to see you and to give you the biggest hug when I do,” she said.

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