Disappearance of Emma Fillipoff
|Born||January 6, 1986|
November 28, 2012 (aged 26)|
Victoria, British Columbia
|Status||Missing for 5 years, 8 months and 18 days|
Fillipoff was last seen in the immediate vicinity of the Empress Hotel in Victoria between 7:15 pm and 8:00 pm on November 28, 2012. She was observed being interviewed by Victoria police. Her red Mazda MPV '93 van was found in the Chateau Victoria parking lot with almost all her belongings in it, including her passport, library card, digital camera, clothes, a pillow, assorted ornaments, laptop, and recently borrowed library books. It is believed she used the van as storage. She spoke with Chateau Victoria staff at 7:00 am on the morning of her disappearance.
Fillipoff arrived in Victoria in the fall of 2011 from Perth, Ontario. She had brief employment at the Red Fish Blue Fish seasonal seafood restaurant in Victoria's Inner Harbour. Since the work was seasonal she left the job on October 31, 2012. She assured co-workers she would be back in the spring.
In what police believe was preparation to move back to Ontario, on November 21 Fillipoff hired a tow-truck and driver to tow her Mazda from Sooke[not in citation given] to the Chateau Victoria parking garage. Unknown to her family, Fillipoff had stayed at the Sandy Merriman House women's shelter on and off since February. On November 23, Fillipoff was captured on security footage at the Victoria YMCA, entering, then leaving, then entering multiple times as if possibly avoiding someone on the outside.
In the days preceding her disappearance, Fillipoff had phoned her mother in Ontario, asking if she could come home, and was told "of course". Each time her tone would quickly change and Emma would then ask her mother not to come. On the final call, her mother became aware that Emma had been staying at the Sandy Merriman house, and even though Emma had asked her not to come, she made plans to fly out immediately. Emma's last words to her mom were, "I don't know how I can face you." Emma's mother arrived at Sandy Merriman house at about 11:00 pm on the 28th, three hours after Emma had been last seen by police at the Empress Hotel.
Early on the day of November 28, Fillipoff had been captured on a 7-Eleven store video on Government Street purchasing a pre-paid cell phone. The video showed her hesitating in departing the store, seemingly checking the street outside. She returned to the 7-Eleven store to buy a pre-paid credit card for $200. Reportedly, she left the Sandy Merriman House women's shelter at about 6:00 p.m. that day. Soon after, she hailed a taxi and asked to be taken to the airport; however, she soon exited the taxi for lack of adequate fare, even though she had the $200 prepaid card. Minutes later, she was seen walking barefoot in front of the Empress Hotel. An acquaintance of hers, Dennis Quay, called 9-1-1 to say a woman was in severe distress outside the hotel.
Victoria police arrived, took Emma's name, and spent 45 minutes speaking with her. Deciding that she was not a threat to herself or anyone else, they released her; no one has reported seeing Emma since 8:00 pm that night. Later that evening, police met Fillipoff's mother at Sandy Merriman House; by midnight Emma was classified as a missing person.
Initially the police said that Emma had last been seen, "with friends several blocks away on Burdett Avenue between Blanshard and Quadra streets." The Empress location and early police involvement were not mentioned until The Fifth Estate story about the case in the Times Colonist — in February 2013.
Investigators explored more than 200 leads, turning up minimal information. Most evidence indicates she was planning to return home to Ottawa, but there was no proof that she ever left the city. The cell phone she bought had never been activated.
The credit card was allegedly found on the side of the road near the Juan de Fuca Community Centre, north of where Fillipoff disappeared. It was found by a stranger, whose use of the card to purchase cigarettes was tracked by police.
Fillipoff wrote copious prose about her time in Victoria. None of it indicated that she was being stalked. Even though some of it indicated she was depressed, experts who appeared on The Fifth Estate said the writing did not have the hallmarks of suicide. According to Fillipoff's mother, however, the Sandy Merriman staff claimed that Emma "required both physical and medical intervention."
In March 2016, Fillipoff's mother and brother were charged with money laundering, as well as drug and weapons offenses, after an OPP investigation. Shelley Fillipoff insisted the charges had nothing to do with the disappearance of Emma, saying "the one has nothing to do with the other."
In November 2016, all charges were dropped against Shelley Fillipoff, clearing her of any involvement.
The Campbell River Courier-Islander newspaper reported in May 2014 that Gastown, Vancouver, business owners Joel and Lori Sellen witnessed a man in their store throwing out a $25,000 missing persons reward poster for Fillipoff. The pair reported that the man said, "It's one of those missing persons posters, except she's not missing, she's my girlfriend and she ran away 'cause she hates her parents." The owners immediately called the police. Although security video captured an image of the man, he has yet to be identified.
- "Emma Fillipoff disappeared 3 years ago, man of interest still unidentified". Victoria Buzz. 6 Jan 2016.
- "Emma is missing". Interlake Group. Retrieved 31 Jan 2015.
- "Three Years After Vanishing, Where is Emma Fillipoff". Times-Colonist. 28 Nov 2015.
- "Finding Emma". The Fifth Estate. CBC. 10 Apr 2013. Retrieved 31 Jan 2015.
- "Help Find Emma". The Fifth Estate. CBC News. 10 Apr 2013. Retrieved 31 Jan 2015.
- Spalding, Derek. "Emma Fillipoff vanished, leaving a mysterious trail through Victoria". Times Colonist. Retrieved 31 Jan 2015.
- "Missing Woman in Victoria – EMMA FILLIPOFF, 27". Missing People Canada. Retrieved 31 Jan 2015.
- "Search for missing Victoria woman Emma Fillipoff spreads to Vancouver". Vancouver Sun. May 2014.
- "'Every day is a sad day': Emma Fillipoff's mom still searching". Retrieved 2016-11-27.
- Spalding, Derek. "Fillipoff's file a rare puzzler; police seeing fewer missing-persons cases". Times Colonist. Retrieved 31 Jan 2015.
- "'A young woman was last seen by police then never again': Emma Fillipoff's mom still searching". Retrieved 2017-11-27.
- "Mother of missing woman charged with money laundering, drug, weapons offences". Retrieved 2016-08-10.
- "Crown drops drug, weapons charges against Lanark mother of missing woman". Retrieved 2016-11-23.
- "Possible break in Emma Fillipoff missing woman case". Campbell River Courier-Islander. May 2014.