Samantha Murphy disappearance: Grim update 40 days after she vanished without a trace and man was charged with her murder

Sunday February 4, 7am: Mum-of-three Samantha Murphy is last seen leaving her home on Eureka Street in Ballarat East heading off on a run.

7.16am: She is captured on a neighbour’s CCTV wearing a brown singlet and black half-length leggings.

11am: Ms Murphy fails to show up at a planned brunch with family. She is reported to police as a missing.

Monday February 5: Victoria Police launch a public appeal to find Ms Murphy.  A search area is established just outside the suburb of Buninyong, about 14km from where Ms Murphy was last seen, as well as near her home. Police revealed Ms Murphy’s mobile phone had pinged in Buninyong

Tuesday February 6: Ms Murphy’s husband, Mick, tells media that he’s ‘not too bad under the circumstances.  He was pictured speaking with police as the desperate search continued. The search extended to more than 100 specialised police officers, SES crews and teams from Forest Fire Management Australia and Parks Victoria.

Wednesday February 8, 12.30pm:  A search party found possible evidence near a walking trail in Woowookarung Regional Park

1.45pm: Mick Murphy turns up at the  cordoned off scene in Woowookarung Regional Park and appeared visibly stunned as he was turned away by officers. Police said the items found in bushland were not related to her whereabouts.

Police later released what they initially thought was CCTV of Ms Murphy leaving her property and heading off in a north-easterly direction toward Yankee Flat Road near the intersection of Warrenheip Road.

Thursday afternoon February 8: A runner came forward to reveal they are the person seen in the CCTV footage, ruling out a key line of inquiry.

Friday February 9: Victoria Police ramp up its efforts with the arrival of officers from the missing persons unit.

Saturday February 10: Investigators scale back the search and say that a full scale search will only resume if fresh information emerges.

Sunday February 11: As police down grade the search, locals continue their own search by scouring the area in small groups.

Monday February 12: Cin Hobbs, administrator of ‘Find Samantha Murphy’ Facebook group – which garnered thousands of members within days announced she was removing the group as it ‘has served its purpose’.

Tuesday, February 13: Daily Mail Australia reveals that Ms Murphy’s beloved dog, Ruby, had gone missing.

Wednesday, February 14: Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton confirms detectives are treating Ms Murphy’s disappearance is suspicious. 

Detectives from Victoria Police’s Missing Persons Unit spend an hour at the Murphy family’s property.

It is revealed Ruby has died.

Friday, February 16: Ms Murphy’s uncle and aunt, Allan and Janice Robson, tell Daily Mail Australia they believe their niece was a victim of foul play.

Ms Robson theorises the mother was targeted by a deranged stalker, saying: ‘I would say that somebody would have been watching her. I can’t think it would be anything else.’ 

Monday, February 19: Mick Murphy issues public plea, saying: ‘We want Sam home please.’

He claims his family are ‘doing the best we can under the circumstances’. 

Thursday, February 22: Dozens of detectives from specialist units are assigned to the case.

Friday February 23: Police admit ‘one or more parties’ are most likely behind her disappearance as the hunt shifts to a fresh location at Mount Clear based on new phone data analysis.  

Wednesday February 28:  The Inland Motor Body Works, a smash repair business in Ballarat owned by Ms Murphy and her husband becomes a focus of the investigation, amid speculation outlaw motorcycle gangs were among customers.

Monday March 4: Investigators begin reviewing mobile phone tower data to identify the movements of people in the area where Ms Murphy vanished.

6am Wednesday March 6: A man, 22, is arrested at a Scotsburn home in Ballarat in connection to Ms Murphy’s disappearance.

Thursday March 7: The man is charged with one count of murder and was due to face court later that afternoon. 

Ms Murphy remains missing and the hunt to find her body continues.

Friday March 8: The man charged with murder is revealed as Patrick Oreen Stephenson 22, after a suppression order was lifted.