Crime expert Sly on the Underworld’s grim new theory in search for missing Ballarat mother Samantha Murphy

Police likely suspect a person involved in the search for Ballarat mum Samantha Murphy could be her killer, an esteemed crime expert has said.

The mother-of-three, 51 left her Eureka Street home in Ballarat on February 4 to go on a run in the Woowookarung Regional Park.

Despite major search efforts by the missing persons squad, specialist commands and hundreds of Ballarat locals, Ms Murphy has not been seen since.

On Wednesday morning, veteran crime reporter John ‘Sly’ Silvester aired a new theory as the search extends into a fourth week.

While discussing what is known about the high-profile search with talkback radio station 3AW, he stated: “It’s not a disappearance as such or someone who’s orchestrated their disappearance.”

“We know it’s not self-harm or a medical issue. Why? Because the area has been searched, and they’re very confident if someone has fallen down one way or another, they would have been found,” he added.

“So that leaves you with the suggestion of foul play and probably murder.”

Silvester said while locals had selflessly launched themselves into the search for Ms Murphy, among them may be somebody with ill-intent.

“Police will also be considering that one of those searchers is the (alleged) killer in that they have inculcated themselves into that situation to be seen as part of the community, but also keeping an eye on what’s going on,” he explained.

Silvester also suggested it’s likely “the victim has no secrets” after he presumed police did a deep dive into her life.

“You have to go deep into that person to find out potential enemies or what could have happened,” he said.

It comes just a day after a volunteer-led search for Ms Murphy was cancelled as a catastrophic fire danger rating was put in place for the region.

Volunteer group Ground Crew has been forced to postpone this weekend’s search for the missing mother, with those leading the search making the tough decision to ensure “more strain” isn’t placed on SES and CFA volunteers.

“Due to the current bushfires and catastrophic fire warnings, we have made the decision to postpone this week’s search efforts for Samantha Murphy,” a search organiser posted to a Facebook page dedicated to searching for Ms Murphy.

“We don’t want to put more strain on the community or the current SES and CFA volunteers who are already working tirelessly. Safety is paramount for everyone.”

A catastrophic fire danger rating is in place for Wimmera as an out-of-control bushfire in Bayindeen near Ballarat continues to burn.

More than 300 volunteers previously joined the search for Ms Murphy on Saturday, equipped with metal detectors and a sniffer dog.

Marked out in hi-vis jackets, the large group gathered at Ballarat’s Eureka Stockade Memorial Park to continue major search efforts for Ms Murphy.

Police earlier revealed “everyone” is a “person of interest in investigations.

“We have a number of people that we are speaking to and I can say the family have been absolutely fantastic in co-operating with police.

“At this stage (Ms Murphy’s husband) is not (a suspect). Everyone in relation to Samantha is a person of interest. In our investigation we are speaking to everyone that was in her life,” Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt said on Friday.

Police have ruled out the possibility of a medical episode and revealed they have not received any information to suggest “she left the area of her own accord”.

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