The search for Emma Fillipoff continues after four years.

The search for Emma Fillipoff continues after four years.

Mother continues search for missing daughter

Shelley Fillipoff and her youngest son always enjoy opening a box of ornaments and decorating the Christmas tree inside her Ontario home.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Shelley Fillipoff and her youngest son always enjoy opening a box of ornaments and decorating the tree inside her Ontario home.

Occasionally the pair come across an ornament that was Emma Fillipoff’s favourite. Emma was the heart of Christmas in the home. Her absence from the holiday season is glaring.

“When her younger brother and I decorate the tree, we are really heartbroken because it was always the three of us that did the tree,” said Shelley from her home in Perth, Ontario. “We don’t speak of it much.”

It’s been four years since Emma disappeared on the night of Nov. 28 from the streets of downtown Victoria. The five-foot-five woman with long brown hair was last seen walking barefoot by the Empress Hotel. She was questioned by police to determine her mental state, then allowed to leave, vanishing without a trace.

Described as a free-spirited intelligent woman with a love for life, Emma left Ontario in the fall of 2011 and headed for Victoria to experience life on the West Coast. She was 25 at the time and had no home or job lined up prior. Her plan was to figure things out when she arrived.

After two or three months in her new city, Emma developed a transient lifestyle, taking on odd jobs, living at a hotel and sometimes sleeping in the woods. One night in November 2012, Emma revealed to her mother that she’d been staying at a women’s shelter and wanted to come home, then later changed her mind.

Despite the request not to come, Shelley flew to Victoria on Nov. 28, arriving at the shelter Emma had been staying only to discover she wasn’t there. Emma was soon reported as missing.

Shortly before her disappearance, Emma began to distance herself from others, becoming fearful, withdrawn and paranoid. In mid-November she told a friend she was leaving Victoria and possibly heading to Salt Spring Island or Tofino. Friends recall her other plans — sailing on a boat to Mexico, heading to San Juan with a man she barely knew, moving to California, moving to Costa Rica, traveling to Japan with her father, living off the grid somewhere in the woods, visiting an aunt in Lantzville and surprising her family by going back home to Ontario.

On the day Emma went missing, she purchased a prepaid cellphone and a prepaid credit card for $200, leaving her loved ones even more confused.

Police maintain the case continues to be actively investigated and tips are still being received.

Shelley never imagined four years would pass without any trace of Emma’s whereabouts. Every month gets harder to maintain some shred of hope that Emma will ever be found.

Suffering from post-traumatic syndrome, Fillipoff has since quit her job as a french teacher and finds it difficult to get through each day. Emma is always with her, the disappearance weighing heavily on her shoulders.

“I feel her in my heart, I take her with me wherever I go,” said Shelley, who recently began reading books again. “I have struggled with going out. People are very kind and supportive, but I don’t like seeing the look on their face when they look at me with pity and it just reminds me of how sad our lives really are.”

Shelley is now surrounded by a group of volunteers scattered across the country, doing everything they can to keep Emma’s story alive. They handle tips, follow up on unconfirmed sightings, conduct interviews and have created a detailed in-depth timeline outlining the days leading up to Emma’s disappearance. Their support means the world to Shelley.

Every now and then, Shelley looks at a pair of patchwork pants that Emma made. They’re among the items stored in boxes belonging to Emma that Shelley moved from Victoria to Ontario in the summer of 2013 and act as a constant reminder her daughter is still missing.

Consisting of books, clothing, shells, rocks, art work, several pieces of writing and a journal that paints a picture of a mentally distraught young women, Shelley hasn’t been able to go through all of the items in the boxes yet. She’s not sure if she’ll ever be able to until she knows what happened to Emma.

“I don’t really want to see her things. She was so private. When I touch the journals I think how devastated she would be to think that people have touched her things,” said Shelley, who started looking through some of the stuff one day, but had to stop. “It’s very sad. It just makes me want to cry.”

Anyone with information on Emma’s whereabouts is asked to contact police at 250-995-7654.

 

 

 

Just Posted

Greater Victoria is ranked fourth out of 27 Canadian cities for the best places for youth to work in, according to a RBC report. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria among best Canadian cities for youth to work in, says RBC report

Region ranked fourth out of 27, behind Vancouver, Hamilton and Edmonton

Donna Brower (left) and her daughter Carol Anne Penner, members of the Silver Swans – a quilting group of 12 ladies who meet at the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary – with a mountain of masks they sewed. (Photo submitted by Julia Dawson)
Saanich quilting group nabs first prize in Volunteer BC photo contest

Silver Swans sewing club raised more than $12,000 for Swan Lake nature sanctuary

Happy green tomato seedlings wait to be purchased at 3378 Wishart Rd. in Colwood. They’ve been grown especially for the Colwood Garden Society’s fundraiser to build a shed at the community garden. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Colwood Garden Society hopes to raise shed with plant sale

Herbs, vegetable starts, flowers and more for $1, $2 and $3 until May 15

The City of Victoria is proposing a northern contraction from Haultain Street to Bay Street with a western contraction from Cook Street to Chambers Street for Fernwood. (Illustration/Google Maps)
Community association calls for input on Victoria boundary changes

City of Victoria proposes changes to neighbourhood borders

After seizing a handgun from his home on Tuesday, Victoria police arrested a wanted man on Wednesday after he fled officers on his bike. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man wanted on several warrants flees Victoria officers on bike

He was arrested after a brief struggle, transported to hospital with injuries

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

What3words was first created in the U.K. in 2013 and is credited to saving the lives of outdoor enthusiasts around the world. (Contributed)
‘This is a life saving tool’: App helps paramedics find capsized canoeists near Revelstoke

What3words pinpoints the person’s phone location to a three-meter range

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Most Read