Unfortunately, people go missing all of the time, with over 60,000 reported cases in Canada every year. Some of the people who disappeared are found alive and leading new lives, while others have more macabre and violent endings. Emma Fillipoff’s disappearance was so strange, people took notice.
Fillipoff moved to Victoria, British Columbia, in fall of 2011, leaving behind her family in Perth, Ontario. She got a seasonal job at the restaurant Red Fish Blue Fish. She left the restaurant on October 31, 2012, but promised to be back for the next season. Fillipoff’s family and friends thought she was driving her van back to Perth that November, but she never made it home.
She seemingly disappeared into thin air, with no leads or clues about what happened. Because she was acting strangely before her disappearance, there are several theories about what happened to her. But no one really knows what happened to Emma Fillipoff.
• She Left Behind Her Mazda Van Filled With Her Belongings
During her time in Victoria, Fillipoff talked with her friends about possibly traveling the world. Among the many destinations were Japan with her father; Mexico by boat; roughing it alone in the woods; traveling to San Juan with a man she barely knew; and going home to family in Perth. The last plans mentioned before her disappearance were to visit Salt Spring Island or Tofino, British Columbia.
Fillipoff purchased a red 1993 Mazda MVP Van in the summer of 2012. The staff of a storage facility recalled Fillipoff loading up the van with her belongings and talking about living in the van and using it to travel. The van wasn’t in great shape and she was looking for a cheap mechanic to fix it, as it had to be towed to destinations instead of driven.
On November 21, 2012, she had the van towed from Sooke, British Columbia, back to Victoria. She told the driver she was looking forward to using it to go home to Perth, but when she disappeared seven days later, the van was left behind with all of her belongings, including her passport, still inside.
• Friends Suspected She Was Suffering From Depression And Paranoia
Photo: CBC News / YouTube
Described as dreamy, creative, private, and cryptic, Emma Fillipoff was not one to talk about herself freely, making it difficult to surmise what might have been going through her mind in the days leading up to her disappearance.
During the winter of 2011, a friend and roommate grew concerned for Fillipoff when she spent hours obsessively making patterns with various objects. That friend also found her in the yard during the night, gleeful and seemingly high on nature.
The staff of the shelter Fillipoff sometimes resided in said she had been acting erratically and at least one staff member was afraid of her.
They also mentioned a belief that she was exhibiting paranoia and depression symptoms.
• Surveillance Footage Shows Fillipoff Acting As If She Was Being Followed
Photo: Help Find Emma Fillipoff / Facebook
November 20, 2012, surveillance footage cameras in the downtown Victoria YMCA were obtained by authorities. Fillipoff acts strangely in the video, going in and out of the building four times in less than 15 minutes.
She also returned to the doors to look outside, pausing before making one of her exits and then reentering. She was also either carrying an iPod in her hands or fidgeting, causing experts to believe she may have thought she was being followed.
• She Begged Her Mother To Come Get Her Before Changing Her Mind – Multiple Times
Beginning five days before her disappearance, Fillipoff called her mother, Shelley, and begged for help to get back home to Perth, Ontario.
Shelley assured Fillipoff she would come get her or assist her in coming home, only to have Fillipoff call back the next day and insist plans were canceled.
This happened four days in a row, with Fillipoff telling her mother “she did not know how she could face her”. On the day of her daughter’s disappearance, Shelley flew into Victoria without telling anyone, only to report Fillipoff missing when she never returned to the women’s shelter where she was staying.
• People Noticed She Was Distraught The Day She Disappeared
The very detailed timeline on Help Find Emma Fillipoff has information about every person Fillipoff interacted with on the day of her disappearance.
She was reported as interacting with the staff of Chateau Victoria at 7 am before purchasing a prepaid credit card at a 7-11 store. Julien Huard checked on Fillipoff, who stood motionless on the sidewalk and refused to speak to him.
She was at the library at noon before telling another witness she wasn’t feeling well an hour later. She was allegedly seen walking with an unidentified older man that afternoon, then twice by a different witness in two hours before returning to 7-11 for a prepaid cell phone. Then she was seen at a co-ed shelter; by a cab driver; acquaintance Denis Quay; and finally, the police.
• Her Prepaid Credit Card Was Found And Used – But Led To No Suspect
Photo: CBC News / YouTube
The day of her disappearance, Fillipoff purchased a $200 prepaid credit card from 7-11 at 8:23 am. She was seen by several witnesses before disappearing after 8 pm that night, including a return trip to this store to buy a prepaid cell phone she would never use.
On December 5, 2012, the prepaid credit card was used at a gas station located 12 kilometers from Victoria and near Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre and Galloping Goose trail. The man who used the card said he found it near the gas station before admitting he was an alcoholic and was not sure where he had actually picked up Fillipoff’s lost card.
The man was questioned by police and was not determined to be a person of interest in the case.
• The Day She Disappeared, She Bought A Prepaid Cell Phone She Never Activated
Photo: CBC News / YouTube
Fillipoff was seen at a 7-11 at 5:54 pm on the day of her disappearance. She used her bank card to buy a prepaid cell phone before standing by the doors of the store. The surveillance cameras show her acting as if she’s looking for or trying to avoid someone outside of the 7-11.
She eventually left and was next spotted at the women’s shelter where she sometimes slept. The prepaid cell phone was never activated and hasn’t been found.
• She Flagged A Cab To The Airport – But Claimed She Had No Fare Money
One the busy day of November 28, 2012, Fillipoff flagged a cab at 6:10 pm and asked the driver to take her to the airport. Though she had purchased a $200 prepaid card and a prepaid cell phone that day, she balked at the $60 cab fare to get to her destination.
Though she likely had nearly $3,000 in her bank account, Fillipoff insisted the driver return her to the women’s shelter where he picked her up. The driver told investigators that she was acting paranoid and became upset when his dispatch radio crackled.
• A Friend Saw Her Looking Dazed And Called Police
An acquaintance, Dennis Quay, saw Fillipoff walking barefoot in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria at 6:15 pm on the day of her disappearance. Quay approached Fillipoff and asked if someone was following her, as she seems confused and paranoid. She didn’t answer his questions, but she did ask Quay to walk with her. Growing tired of Quay’s concerns and questions, Fillipoff decided to walk alone, which prompted him to call 911.
The police arrive at 7 pm and Quay left the area, believing the police would take care of Fillipoff.
• Police Were The Last People To See Fillipoff
After an acquaintance spotted Fillipoff barefoot on the streets of Victoria, he called the police in hopes they could assist her. Once they arrived and began speaking with her, the acquaintance left. The police spoke with Fillipoff for 45 minutes, during which time she answered only with nods or one word, refused to put on her shoes, and only gave her name after a great deal of cajoling. For 30 of the 45 minutes, she did not speak at all.
The police determined Fillipoff was not a danger to herself or others, leaving her alone on the sidewalk. That was the last time anyone saw her.
• A Man Claimed To Have Given Fillipoff A Ride The Day After Her Disappearance
Nearly six years after Fillipoff’s disappearance, a man only known as William came forward and claimed he encountered the missing woman while driving to work on the morning of November 29th, 2012, one day after her last confirmed sighting. Victoria News writer Nicole Crescenzi reports:
William spotted Emma while driving to Saanich from Esquimalt, driving up Admirals Road after she jumped off the street onto the sidewalk and seemed to be in distress.
William pulled over, asked if she was okay and found her to be very afraid of something he couldn’t see. William offered to give her a ride into town on his way to work. After she got in the car, he said she was very calm, and asked William to take her to her friend’s place in Colwood.
The man goes on to state he dropped off the woman he claims to be Fillipoff at a nearby intersection. Shelley Fillipoff, the missing woman’s mother, arranged to have a police dog search the areas where William claimed to have seen her, but no new information came of the effort.
• A Man Claiming To Be Fillipoff’s Boyfriend Surfaced In 2014
Photo: Help Find Emma Fillipoff
Two years after Fillipoff’s disappearance, a man with a limp and flame tattoos on his arms entered a store in Gastown, Vancouver. He grabbed a poster offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Fillipoff, crumpled it up and yelled, “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.”
Police were called, security footage of the man was captured, and he still remains unidentified.
• There Have Been No Confirmed Sightings Of Her
Photo: Help Find Emma Fillipoff / Facebook
A private investigator, police, friends, family, volunteers, and psychics have been utilized in the search for Fillipoff. The search encompassed islands, parks, trails, and large areas of British Columbia with no luck.
Evidence was provided to the team of CBC’s The Fifth Estate – which consists of several experts in this sort of case – and they were unable to determine her location.
Most reported sightings have been women that resemble Fillipoff. People have ripped down posters asking for information as to here whereabouts, with one witness claiming she saw Fillipoff herself engaging in the activity. She was reported as a hitchhiker, transient, and junkie, but none of the leads were confirmed as Fillipoff.
A closer look at mysterious disappearances that continue to baffle detectives.