The Mysterious 2012 Disappearance Of Emma Fillipoff

Twenty-six-year-old Canadian Emma Fillipoff was last seen alive on November 28, 2012, and as of October 2022, no trace of her has been found (via the Times Colonist). Making this case even more unusual is that just a few hours before she disappeared, local police were alerted to a barefoot and "disoriented" woman that Victoria Police said was "acting oddly" outside of a local hotel (via The Independent). In fact, she had a lengthy conversation with police, and they determined she was okay and not in any distress. That would be the last time anyone saw her alive (as far as is known).

The weirdness associated with this case doesn't begin or end there. Prior to her disappearance, she was known to exhibit signs of mental illness (via  Today In BC). And her mother was, as of 2014 anyway, convinced her daughter might have experienced some sort of psychotic break on the day of her disappearance. In fact, her behavior that day does suggest she might have been experiencing delusions that she was being stalked. Or perhaps she genuinely was being stalked. What few clues police have managed to accumulate over the years could point in either direction. Meanwhile, her family is still waiting to find out what actually happened to her.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Before The Disappearance

According to Today In BC, Emma Fillipoff lived a "transient lifestyle" prior to her disappearance. Specifically, she would live in boats, in the woods, or — sometimes in the weeks leading up to her disappearance — in a women's shelter. Sometimes she would work, getting jobs here and there at local eateries, including in what is described as a local favorite in Victoria, British Columbia — Red Fish Blue Fish.

A decade and a half earlier, when she was a preteen, she began showing signs of mental illness. She would engage in "compulsive rituals," as Today In BC describes it, including arranging objects into patterns. Her symptoms would worsen over the years, including showing signs of depression and paranoia, as well as severely restricting her diet. In the months and years leading up to her disappearance, Emma largely kept to herself and even shied away from disclosing her whereabouts to her family. "Emma has always been that way," her mother, Shelley Fillipoff, said via the Times Colonist in 2013. "She was always very private. But I think that might have gotten worse in recent years."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Emma's Mother Comes To Find Her

Emma Fillipoff was employed at the Red Fish Blue Fish in Victoria until October 31, 2012, according to a website dedicated to finding her. When the business closed for the season, she was expected to return the following season a few months later. In the days and months before she disappeared, the website says Emma's communications with her family were "cryptic, poetic," and "upbeat." By late November, she had begun calling her mother on the telephone, talking about returning home to Ontario (via Today In BC). However, she changed her mind. 

On November 28, Shelley Fillipoff became concerned about her daughter's well-being and decided to fly to Victoria to talk to her in person. Staff at the women's shelter where Emma was staying at the time reported that when she learned her mother was coming to town, she left the shelter in a huff. When Shelley arrived in Victoria, Emma was nowhere to be seen, so she filed a missing-persons report.

The Day Of Her Disappearance

On November 29, 2021, CTV News Vancouver Island reported that Emma Fillipoff was last seen in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria. Police had received a report of a barefoot woman "acting oddly" in front of the building, and police were called to the scene to make sure everything was okay. Fillipoff and one or more unidentified police officers talked things over — 45 minutes, according to The Independent — before police determined that she was not a threat to herself or others.

Earlier in the day, she'd been seen at a convenience store, where she used her debit card to purchase a $200 prepaid debit card (via Help Find Emma Fillipoff). She was also seen lingering by the exit doors, nervously looking back and forth as if she feared she was being followed. She was spotted seen here and there around time at other times during the day, with witnesses reporting that she looked confused. At one point, she entered a cab with a view towards going to the airport, but she changed her mind, saying she couldn't afford the $60 fare, even though she had several thousand dollars in her bank account.

Later Developments

In fact, it was later revealed that Emma Fillipoff might not have been last seen alive in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria on November 28, 2012. It would, however, be a few years before this information came to light. Two years later, in 2014, a man in a Gastown, British Columbia convenience store was observed tearing down a missing persons poster featuring Emma (via Times Colonist). He reportedly 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 store's owners, who reportedly got a "creepy vibe" from the man, called the police, but he was gone before authorities arrived to talk to him.

In 2018, according to The Independent, a man identified only as "William" came forward and claimed that on November 29 — the morning after Emma disappeared — he'd given Fillipoff a ride and dropped her off at an intersection on Vancouver Island, about 70 miles from the hotel. That tip prompted an extensive search that included dogs, but nothing was found. "William" would later say that he waited years to come forward with this information because he didn't want to be a suspect in Fillipoff's disappearance.

The Case Today

Over the years, dozens — if not hundreds — of reports of possible sightings of Emma Fillipoff have come in; most turned out to simply be women who resembled her (via Help Find Emma Fillipoff). Other sightings that haven't been ruled out have placed her all over the map. Some witnesses reported her tearing down posters of the missing woman, at least one witness claimed she was a drug user living on the streets, while another witness claimed to see a hitchhiker resembling her not far from her family's Ontario farm.

Meanwhile, various psychics, a team of professionals, a private investigator, and multiple other groups and individuals have failed to find even a trace of the missing woman. If she were still alive as of October 2022, she would be 36 years old, according to Victoria Buzz. According to Today In BC, the Victoria Police Department continues to accept tips that may help solve the case of Emma Fillipoff's disappearance.