Ballarat prays for missing mother’s safe return

Cassandra Morgan and Adrian Black |

Anglican Minister Mark Schnerring says locals are praying Samantha Murphy will be found.
Anglican Minister Mark Schnerring says locals are praying Samantha Murphy will be found.

Investigators have renewed their appeals for dashcam and CCTV footage almost a week after mother Samantha Murphy disappeared while on a run.

By 5pm on Saturday there had been no developments and missing persons detectives called for any footage covering the Ballarat East, Mount Helen and Buninyong areas from last Sunday.

“Even if the footage does not depict Samantha, detectives are keen to review all footage in the areas between 7am and 7pm on Sunday, 4 February,” Victoria Police said in a statement.

The tiny town of Buninyong, about 11km south of the city, was a hive of activity on Friday as emergency crews focused their search for Ms Murphy in the area.

Samantha Murphy search
SES personnel have been stood down in the ongoing search for Samantha Murphy. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

No sign of her has been found despite extensive searches of the area during the past week.

Buninyong Anglican Church is just metres from the police station that has served as the base command for the search operation.

A sign out the front invites parishioners in, offering space for reflection and prayer for Ms Murphy.

“There’s certainly a lot of concern and a lot of desire to help and support,” Anglican Minister Mark Schnerring told AAP.

“We’re trying to offer what we can.”

Locals have filtered through the church praying for the missing mother’s safe return.

Ms Murphy was last seen leaving her Eureka St home in Ballarat East about 7am on February 4 to go for a run.

Police have scaled back their operation after combing through an extensive area including Mount Helen, Canadian and Buninyong in recent days.

The Country Fire Authority and State Emergency Service were part of the search effort, with the latter officially stood down as of 5pm on Friday.

Samantha Murphy search
The search for Samantha Murphy is now entering its seventh day. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Missing persons squad detectives took carriage of the investigation on Friday.

“Police continue to be in regular contact with Samantha’s family regarding the developments of the search and the status of the investigation,” a spokeswoman said.

“The investigative stage continues and as any new information comes to hand identifying areas of interest, the search will be scaled up.”

Ms Murphy has been described as a physically and mentally strong woman.

She and her husband Michael Murphy’s business Inland Motor Body Works at Delacombe was open on Friday after he fronted media with their eldest daughter, Jess, who pleaded for help to find her mother.

Locals were still out scouting property and bush tracks for signs of Ms Murphy on Friday.

 “Until something is clearly found, people want to maintain that hope right up until the last minute,” Mr Schnerring said.

Anyone with information about Ms Murphy’s disappearance is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.