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Police plot next move in Samantha Murphy search

Police focused their search for Samantha Murphy on the Buninyong Bushland Reserve near Ballarat.

Police focused their search for Samantha Murphy on the Buninyong Bushland Reserve near Ballarat. Photo: AAP

The search for the body of Ballarat mother Samantha Murphy is expected to resume within weeks, after a fresh probe failed to find any trace of her.

Intelligence from multiple sources led authorities to narrow in on the Buninyong Bushland Reserve, south of the regional Victorian city, on Wednesday but the operation was called off by 2.30pm.

There are no plans to scour the area or anywhere else around the Ballarat region on Thursday.

“We expect to continue searching over coming weeks,” Victoria Police said.

Samantha Murphy's daughter issues emotional plea for her to come home

Source: ABC News

Wednesday’s efforts focused on Sandys Hill Road, about six kilometres from the Mount Clear site where Murphy went missing.

The operation involved specialist officers from the missing persons squad, search and rescue, the mounted branch and the dog squad, public order response team and local police.

Murphy, 51, was last seen leaving her home on Eureka Street to go for a run in the Canadian State Forest on the morning of February 4.

Police allege local man 22-year-old Patrick Orren Stephenson murdered her at Mount Clear on the day she went missing. The tradesman was arrested at the beginning of March and is due to return to court in August.

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

Authorities have spent weeks searching for Murphy’s body, mostly within the Canadian State Forest.

Members of the public have also combed the wider Ballarat area in a bid to find any clues. They were asked to stay away from the official search on Wednesday.

Murphy’s disappearance and death sparked an outpouring of grief in the regional town, with hundreds of people attending an emotional vigil for the mother-of-three earlier this month.

-AAP

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