Missing Ballarat mother Samantha Murphy was wearing what appears to be an Apple Watch when she went disappeared, sparking hope the device might help detectives locate her.
The missing mum-of-three, 51, vanished on Sunday after leaving her home on Eureka Street, East Ballarat, to go for a run through a forest at 7.16am.
CCTV footage of Ms Murphy, captured on her own security system, shows the keen runner wearing black half-length leggings, a maroon/brown singlet and what appears to be an Apple Watch on her left wrist, while carrying a dog poo bag.
The small potential clue has triggered speculation online.
‘She was (thought to be) wearing her Apple Watch which should have pinged for the first 24 hours on any calls/text (battery life) even without her phone,’ wrote one person.
CCTV footage of Ms Murphy, captured on her own security system, shows the keen runner wearing black half-length leggings, a purple singlet and what appears to be an Apple Watch on her left hand while carrying a dog poo bag (pictured)
Samantha Murphy left her Ballarat home at 7am on Sunday to go for a run in the nearby Woowookarung Regional Park and did not return home, nor has she been seen since
The search for missing Samantha Murphy (pictured) enters its fifth day on Thursday
Another suggested detectives could use the ‘Find My’ feature to try to locate her Apple Watch.
If it is marked in ‘Lost Mode’, then detectives would be notified if it came back online.
While it remains unclear whether she was wearing the watch on her run, the device is capable of sending out an SOS signal if the user’s heart rate drops.
Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch Series 4 or later can detect a ‘hard fall’ and can contact emergency services if the user has enabled the feature.
Pressing and holding the side button can also call emergency services on some models.
The speculation comes as the family of Ms Murphy hit back at cruel trolls running a whispering campaign against her husband, Michael.
‘For those questioning Samantha’s husband, you need not worry,’ the family said in a statement released to the Facebook group set up to help in the hunt.
‘He is in more pain than anyone and would be the last person to suspect in any of this.’
The family said they were keen to stamp out the attacks on Ms Murphy’s husband and also wanted to set the record straight on other claims circulating online.
Michael Murphy, the husband of missing mum Samantha Murphy, drove to the crime scene in Ballarat East at about 1.45pm on Wednesday. He appeared visible shocked speaking to officers
Victoria Police on Wednesday night confirmed the search would wind down at nightfall but resume at first light on Thursday morning (pictured, SES personnel search a property)
‘I’ve been seeing some misinformation been spread on all platforms that I want to inform people about,’ the statement added.
‘Samantha’s phone pinging that far away from home is not usual.
‘Yes, she walked in different directions, but she kept to the paths, never went for more than 10km total roughly and would let family know if she was walking further.’
On Wednesday, Mr Murphy explained why he has remained mostly tight-lipped about his wife’s mysterious disappearance.
‘I’ve been speaking with the police and I’ve been advised not to say anything,’ Mr Murphy told the Herald Sun.
The panel beater said he was doing ‘ok’ and wasn’t worried about the commentary surrounding the search because he doesn’t ‘even look online’.
Earlier, he visited the bush area at Woowookarung Regional Park at about 1.45pm and spoke briefly to police officers through a car window.
Mr Murphy appeared visibly stunned and was turned away.
It’s not suggested Mr Murphy played any role in his wife’s disappearance, only that he came to see what authorities had found.
Earlier on Wednesday, items discovered during a search were found not to be relevant to Ms Murphy’s disappearance in a heartbreaking update.
The search for the mum-of-three was rocked after possible evidence was found near a walking trail at about 12.30pm – giving her family hope that police were closing in on her whereabouts.
Officers were seen looking closely at a plastic tree guard before a section of bushland was cordoned off after items were located in shrubs.
However, detectives now believe the evidence is not relevant to the search.
‘Items located today during the search for Samantha have been assessed and at this time are not believed to be related to her whereabouts,’ a police spokesperson said.
New CCTV vision shows Ms Murphy leaving her Ballarat property at 7am on Sunday
A signboard for spontaneous volunteers outlining search areas for Ms Murphy is seen displayed in the Buningyong Police station on Wednesday
SES personnel are seen searching farmland in Ballarat as the search entered its fourth day
Police haven’t ruled out the possibility that Ms Murphy left one of the routes, some of which are surrounded by hundreds of deep mine shafts dating back to the Gold Rush, and fringed by dense bushland.
It comes as the large-scale search expanded to a fresh section of Ballarat on Mount Helen, a southern suburb of the city fringed by bushland popular with runners and cyclists.
Meanwhile, Ms Murphy’s teenage daughter has hit back at ‘malicious’ comments surrounding her mother’s disappearance on Facebook.
‘You have no idea what you are talking about,’ she wrote.
‘Be quiet and think before you post.’
A friend also leapt to the defence of the Murphy family, saying she was defending them against ‘trolls’ posting ‘malicious’ comments.
Exclusive photos captured Mr Murphy speaking to a police officer at the boundary of the search area, where he was turned away
Mr Murphy owns a smash repairs business with his wife, who works in admin.
Daily Mail Australia has been told media who approached the Ballarat East business on Tuesday were given a frosty reception.
Ms Murphy was known to be fit and run almost daily in the state forest.
Temperatures soared to a scorching 36°C on Sunday and it’s unknown whether Ms Murphy had food or water with her.
Ms Murphy is described as Caucasian, about 173cm tall, with a slim build and shoulder-length blonde hair.