The mayor of Ballarat urged locals to stop spreading rumours about missing mother Samantha Murphy just hours before a man was arr*ested in relation to her disappearance.

Mayor Des Hudson, a former police officer, told Ballarat residents to stop adding to speculation about what happened to Ms Murphy after she vanished from her Eureka St home on February 4.

Now, more than 30 days after she was reported missing, Victoria Police have revealed a 22-year-old man was a*rrested shortly after 6am on Wednesday, March 6.

The Ballarat local is not connected to the Murphy family and remains in custody.

No charges have been laid against him. 

The ar*rest marks the first significant breakthrough since the mother-of-three seemingly disappeared without a trace.

Very little about Ms Murphy’s disappearance has been shared with the public other than basic facts such as she left her home for a run in Woowookarung Regional Park about 7am on the day she went missing.

She was reported missing by her family after she failed to return for an 11am Sunday brunch and police later found her phone stopped working about 7km into her run.

Speculation on what happened to Ms Murphy has run rife with theories including an attack by a stalker, a fall down a mineshaft or that she ran away to start a new life.

However, on Thursday, Cr Hudson told citizens to stop spreading speculation because they should be ‘better than that’.

‘It would be really hurtful for the family to hear some of those [rumours] at a time when they are obviously highly stressed, highly sensitive, highly emotional,’ Cr Hudson told the Herald Sun.

‘I would just like to implore people to put themselves in that position and think about what they would expect from our local community. 

‘We are talking about a family that is not able to switch off, they are searching for answers and those answers aren’t yet there.’ 

Possibly the most harmful rumours circulating around Ms Murphy’s de*ath were accusations her husband, Mick Murphy, was involved in her disappearance. 

By the fifth day of his wife’s disappearance, the Murphy family was forced to issue a public statement for internet sleuths to stop harassing Mr Murphy.

‘For those questioning Samantha’s husband, you need not worry,’ the statement read.

‘He is in more pain than anyone and would be the last person to suspect in any of this.’

On a positive note, the mayor thanked the Ballarat community for banding together in the search for Ms Murphy.

‘Our local community has been, in terms of volunteering and going out onto the search ground, amazing,’ he said.

Investigators have sorted through more than 770 information reports and 20,000 hours of CCTV footage to reach Thursday’s breakthrough arr*est.

On Sunday, former Victoria Police homicide detective Charlie Bezzina pointed to one sign police were closing in on a suspect.

He highlighted how Victoria Police said it believes more than one person was involved in Ms Murphy’s disappearance.

‘To be able to say there’s more than one person involved to me is indicative that they are looking at somebody,’ he told 7News. 

In a statement on Thursday, Victoria Police urged anyone who sees Ms Murphy to ‘call triple zero (000) immediately’

‘There are no further updates at this time and the investigation remains ongoing,’ it said.

‘We understand that there is a continued high level of interest in this investigation and concern about disappearance, however it remains critical that any speculation does not impede any aspects of the investigation.

‘Detectives are continuing to appeal for anyone who has CCTV or dashcam footage and is yet to speak to police to come forward.’.

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