Samantha Murphy: Sex offender interviewed as police investigate Ballarat woman’s disappearance

A convicted sex offender who has spent time in jail has been interviewed by detectives investigating the disappearance of Ballarat woman Samantha Murphy, a new report has suggested.

The mum-of-three, 51, went missing three weeks ago after she went out for a run in the Woowookarung Regional Park in East Ballarat at 7am on February 4.

Police suspect “more parties” – meaning more than one person – are likely to be involved in Ms Murphy’s disappearance and have cast a wide net in their search.

As part of their probe, A Current Affair reported on Friday night that a local man with a “long rap sheet” has been spoken to by detectives. The man is understood to have provided an alibi for the day Ms Murphy went missing, and there is nothing to suggest he had anything to do with her disappearance.

A Victoria Police spokesperson told they were not providing specifics on their investigation.

Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt told reporters on Friday that Ms Murphy’s husband, Mick Murphy, and “everyone” in her personal life was now a “person of interest” – though he stressed Mr Murphy was not a suspect in her disappearance.

No arrests or charges have been laid.

“Everyone in relation to Samantha is a person of interest in our investigation. We are speaking to everyone that was in her life … So that would include family, friends and work colleagues,” Superintendent Hatt said.

“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 [Mr Murphy] 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.”

Supt Hatt said his team is “very doubtful” they will find Ms Murphy alive, and they have launched a targeted search in the Mount Clear region, following new intelligence derived from her phone data.

The area police are searching is not new and has already been scoured extensively, but this time, will be looked at for smaller items that could reveal what happened to Ms Murphy.

“That area has been searched for Samantha herself and we have not found her in that area,” Supt Hatt said.

“Unfortunately, given the time and the fact no trace has been found, we do have severe concerns and are very doubtful that she’s still alive.

“We are keeping an open mind, but believe the most likely scenario is that her disappearance involves one or more parties.

“Given the extensive and detailed search that has already been undertaken, and the fact no sign of Samantha or her personal belongings has been located, we have ruled out any type of medical incident.”

Police have been in touch with Ms Murphy’s family “every day”.

“[They’re] obviously very upset,” Supt Hatt added.

“As time goes on the chances of finding Samantha are more limited, so they are very distraught, and we understand that.”

– with NCA NewsWire

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