Man, 22, charged with murder over disappearance of Melbourne woman Samantha Murphy

A 22-year-old man has been charged with murder on Thursday concerning the disappearance of Melbourne woman Samantha Murphy. 

Detectives are expected to hold a media conference at 5:45pm (NZ time) on Thursday to elaborate further.

Officers had arrested the accused man on Wednesday morning at his home in Ballarat, Victoria Police said in a statement. 

The case captivated people worldwide after detectives launched an extensive search for her body.

What happened to Samantha Murphy?

Murphy, 51, mysteriously disappeared on February 4, after she left her home in Ballarat East to go for a morning jog in Canadian State Forest. 

The mother of three is believed to have reached the Mt Clear area, next to the park, about an hour after leaving home. But she hasn't been seen since. 

Police initially described her disappearance as "out of character", before indicating it was unlikely she was still alive. 

"Despite a significant investigation and extensive searches of the Canadian Forest area, no trace of the 51-year-old [Samantha Murphy] has been located," police said. 

Police previously said it was believed "one or more" parties were involved with her disappearance.

The search

Murphy's disappearance is believed to be one of the largest missing persons investigations in Victoria state. 

It began just hours after she left for her regular run, when her family became concerned after she didn't attend a planned brunch. 

The following day, CCTV images were released to the media of Murphy on her run, wearing a maroon running shirt and black leggings. 

Detectives combed through tens of thousands of hours of CCTV footage and searched surrounding areas, but searches were scaled back on February 10.

Missing woman Samantha Murphy.
Missing woman Samantha Murphy. Photo credit: 7News

On February 23, police renewed their ground search in Mt Clear after new mobile data from her phone helped narrow the search. 

Ballarat locals have also come together in efforts to locate the missing woman, with one Facebook page dedicated to the search involving more than 7000 members.  

They have been combing through bushland and walking tracks looking for clues to help find Murphy.