Residents living near a state forest where a mother-of-three disappeared have raised concerns about unnoticeable mine shafts in the area.
The search for Samantha Murphy, 51, is now entering its fourth day after she vanished while going for a run in the Canadian State Forest, about an hour-and-a-half northwest of Melbourne, on Sunday morning.
She was last seen leaving her home on Eureka Street in Ballarat East at 7am on Sunday.
The avid runner had embarked on a 20km run through the forest, an area her husband says she is very familiar with – but never returned.
One local said mine shafts in the Canadian State Forest were a ‘major concern’.
The search for missing mother-of-three Samantha Murphy (pictured) has entered its fourth day
‘The mine shafts out there aren’t very noticeable in some areas,’ she told A Current Affair.
Ms Murphy’s elderly neighbour, Ray, said he was stunned by her disappearance.
‘I can’t believe it,’ he said, adding her husband Michael sometimes mowed his lawn for him.
‘Normally, she goes for a run in the morning and gives me a wave.’
The couple own and operate a smash repairs business.
On Tuesday, Mr Murphy said he was feeling ‘not too bad under the circumstances’.
‘It’s just up in the air, we don’t know,’ he told the Herald Sun.
‘It’s just a whole time thing at the end of the day.’
Mr Murphy told Nine News he wouldn’t be joining the search and preferred to stay at home to try and keep his mind busy while he waited for an update.
He was pictured on Tuesday speaking with police as the search continued.
Michael Murphy (pictured with police) broke his silence about his missing wife on Tuesday
The couple are pictured in happier times on a holiday in Bali, Indonesia, in 2017
Ms Murphy is listed as the head of administration at the Inland Motor Body Works, a car repair shop run by the couple in Delacombe.
The large-scale search for the mother is being coordinated by the Search and Rescue Squad, with local police, more than 100 specialised officers from the dog squad, mounted branch, solo unit and air wing also involved.
SES crews and teams from Forest Fire Management Australia and Parks Victoria have also joined the search.
The Ballarat community has rallied together, with a growing number of residents and Ms Murphy’s friends joining the search efforts.
Ms Murphy’s ‘upset and concerned’ family hold grave concerns and have described her disappearance as out of character.
On the morning Ms Murphy vanished, she was seen wearing a brown singlet and black half-length leggings on her own CCTV system.
Acting Inspector Lisa MacDougall said Ms Murphy’s mobile phone had pinged in Buninyong, but ‘inquiries are ongoing as to whether (the phone) is still on’.
‘Obviously, phones can run out of battery, but that forms part of the investigation,’ she said on Monday.
Ms Murphy is an administrator at Inland Motor Body Works, which she owns with her husband
Mr Murphy (pictured) said his missing wife runs (right) in the state forest almost every day
Ms Murphy, an avid runner, was last seen wearing a brown/maroon singlet and black leggings
Ms Murphy was known to be fit and run almost daily in the state forest.
‘The area of search isn’t completely remote, we are on the outskirts of Ballarat, and it’s not that far from urban areas as well,’ Insp MacDougall said.
Temperatures soared to a scorching 36C on Sunday and it’s unknown whether Ms Murphy had food or water with her.
‘Obviously, (Sunday) was a hot day… there (is) obviously increased risk there because of the heat,’ Insp MacDougall added.
‘It raises the urgency of the search for us, and obviously we account for the fact that that will have an impact on someone’s health.’
A major search for the missing jogger was launched after she failed to return home on Sunday
Women gathered outside the Buninyong Police Station as the large scale search continues