Update after phone found in search for Samantha Murphy

Search for Samantha Murphy's body shifts

Source | AAP

A phone with a teal case found during a search for Samantha Murphy’s body does belong to the Ballarat mum, according to multiple media reports.

The Seven and Nine networks, as well as News Ltd, are reporting the phone found at the side of a dam in country Victoria belonged to the 51-year-old.

She has not been seen since she went missing on her morning run on February 4.

The phone was found when police launched a new search at a secret location south of Buninyong, a town about 11 kilometres from Ballarat, on Wednesday.

Detectives from the Victoria Police missing persons squad and specialist officers trawled the site before finding the phone in a wallet-like case near a dam.

Forensic testing of the phone — reported to be an iPhone — and its case are ongoing.

An excavator, police dogs and multiple vehicles and officers were involved. Victoria Police later confirmed “items of interest” had been found.

The ABC reports that footage from the search area showed police officers crowding together at what appears to be the edge of a farm dam.

Later, officers were seen scanning near the water’s edge, which had receded, with what looked like a metal detector.

Nine and Seven reported officers hugged each other after discovering what could be a major clue.

Aerial shots from Seven also showed an excavator ripping up chunks of dirt next to a road.

“Detectives from the missing persons squad have located some items of interest in Buninyong this morning during their search for Samantha Murphy,” a Victoria Police spokeswoman said on Wednesday afternoon.

“The area has been cordoned off and those items will now be forensically tested.

“We are not providing further information about the items until that testing has been completed.”

The search was described as targeted and also involved the Australian Federal Police.

“Further information will be provided once we are in a position to do so,” the police spokeswoman said.

The Seven Network filmed an excavator at the site where Victoria Police were searching for Samantha Murphy’s body.

Victoria Police confirmed on Wednesday night the search was not expected to continue on Thursday.

Murphy was last seen leaving her home on Eureka Street in Ballarat to go for a run in Canadian State Forest on the morning of February 4.

Police in March charged 22-year-old tradesman Patrick Orren Stephenson with the murder of Murphy at Mount Clear on the day she went missing. He will return to court in August.

Stephenson is the son of Orren Stephenson, who played 15 AFL games for Geelong and Richmond between 2012 and 2014.

Police have launched multiple searches in bushland since February as part of the investigation.

Murphy’s family has been advised of the latest search.

-with AAP

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