Emma Fillipoff’s disappearance remains one of the most puzzling cases in recent Canadian history. On November 28, 2012, this 26-year-old woman vanished from the Empress Hotel in Vancouver, Canada, leaving behind a trail of unanswered questions that have haunted her family and the authorities for years.
Emma Fillipoff behaved “oddly”
Emma Fillipoff arrived in Victoria in the fall of 2011 from Perth, Ontario, seeking new opportunities and a fresh start. She briefly found employment at a seafood restaurant, but in October 2012, she abruptly left her job, seemingly without any clear reason. Her behavior became increasingly erratic, as she hired a tow truck in November 2012 to move her car to a parking garage, indicating her intention to return to Ontario, to her family.
Unbeknownst to anyone of her family, Fillipoff had been staying at the Sandy Merriman House, a women’s shelter, since February of that year. The reasons behind her secrecy remain unknown, but it sheds light on her troubled state of mind. On November 23, she was captured on security footage at the Victoria YMCA, entering and leaving multiple times, possibly evading someone outside. This behavior only added to the growing concerns about her well-being.
Fillipoff called to her mom
During this period, Fillipoff frequently made phone calls to her mother, Shelley Fillipoff, initially expressing a desire to come home but later changing her mind. Her mother, growing increasingly worried, discovered through her own investigation that Fillipoff had been staying at the shelter. She immediately made plans to fly out to Victoria and help her daughter.
On the day of her mother’s arrival, on November 28, Fillipoff was last seen by the Victoria police at the Empress Hotel, just three hours before her mother reached her shelter, the Sandy Merriman House. This fleeting encounter with law enforcement would be the last confirmed sighting of Emma Fillipoff. Minutes later, she was captured on video purchasing a prepaid cell phone and a prepaid credit card for $200. It was a perplexing move that added another layer of mystery to her disappearance.
Empress Hotel incident
Fillipoff left the shelter around 6:00 pm that evening and hailed a taxi to the airport. However, she abruptly left the taxi, claiming she didn’t have enough fare, despite having the prepaid card with her. Shortly after leaving the taxi, Fillipoff was spotted walking barefoot in front of the Empress Hotel. Concerned witnesses called 911, reporting that she seemed distressed. The police arrived and spoke to Fillipoff for 45 minutes, ultimately determining that she was not a threat and releasing her. No one reported seeing her since 8:00 pm that night.
It wasn’t until midnight that evening, when Shelley Fillipoff realized her daughter was missing and reported it to the police. From that moment on, a frantic search for Emma Fillipoff commenced. Over 200 leads were explored, but minimal information about her disappearance emerged. Fillipoff’s credit card was found on the side of the road near the area where she vanished, but she was never seen leaving Victoria.
Fillipoff’s life in Victoria seemed to be marked by a sense of despair, evident from the poems she wrote during her time there. While they indicated signs of depression, there was no clear evidence of suicidal ideation. Instead, they painted a picture of a woman grappling with her inner demons and navigating a tumultuous period in her life.
A mysterious man appeared
Sixteen futile months had passed in search of missing Emma Fillipoff, in May 2014, a man stormed into a clothes store in Gastown, British Columbia, and threw out an Emma missing person poster, saying Emma Fillipoff was his girlfriend.
“It’s one of those missing persons posters, except she’s not missing, she’s my girlfriend and she ran away because she hates her parents.” — The mysterious man
The store owners Joel and Lori Sellen said they got a “very creepy vibe” from the man and called the police right away to report the incident. While security cameras captured the man, the quality and angle didn’t help the police, and they still have no clue who this man was.
Adding to the complexity of the case, Fillipoff’s mother and brother faced unrelated charges in 2016. However, all charges against her mother were dropped, clearing her of any involvement in Fillipoff’s disappearance. The investigation into Emma Fillipoff’s disappearance has hit numerous dead ends, leaving her family and the community desperate for answers.
Reviving the quest for Emma Fillipoff
Another promising lead came in 2018 from a man named William, who claimed to have given Fillipoff a ride the morning after she was reported missing. According to William, he dropped Fillipoff at the intersection of Craigflower Road and Admirals Road near the Petro Canada gas station at 5:15 am. However, an extensive search, including Shelley Fillipoff calling the famous search dog handler Kim Cooper, yielded no significant results, leading to further frustration and confusion for everyone involved.
On the ninth anniversary of Fillipoff’s disappearance, in November 2021, Victoria Police released new photos of her, hoping to generate fresh leads that could finally unravel the mystery. Despite receiving hundreds of tips over the years, none have been able to confirm any reported sightings or provide the essential clues needed to solve the case.
To this day, Emma Fillipoff’s whereabouts remain unknown. She was a transient individual, often living a nomadic lifestyle, sometimes sleeping in the woods, sometimes on boats. This, coupled with her evasive behavior, has compounded the difficulties in locating her. Authorities continue to urge anyone with information to come forward and contact the Victoria Police Department or Crime Stoppers.
As the years pass, the anguish of not knowing Emma Fillipoff’s fate deepens. Her story serves as a reminder of the countless others who vanish without a trace, leaving their loved ones in a state of perpetual sorrow and longing. Until answers are found, her family will continue to hold on to hope, desperately awaiting the day when Emma Fillipoff will finally come home.