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Shortly before her disappearance, Emma began to distance herself from others, becoming fearful, withdrawn and paranoid.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.

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

GIF
’90s rock band resurfaces with songs never properly recorded or released

Underwater Sunshine’s online reunion involves four guys who lost contact for years

Tim Siebert, one half of the partnership behind Citrus & Cane, says opening the Douglas Street cocktail lounge during a pandemic had challenges, but the bar is ready to adapt to whatever comes next. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
New Victoria tropical cocktail lounge designed with COVID-19 safety in mind

Citrus & Cane opens in site of former Copper Owl after eight-month delay

Kennedy Nikel, applied marine biologist at Cascadia Seaweed, here seen in late September, shows off bull kelp (in her left hand) and rock weed. The company is spear-heading an annual seaweed festival scheduled for May 13-21, 2021, with Sidney council have signed off in principle. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Cascadia hopes to see Sidney host seaweed festival in May 2021

Council supports the idea in principle following a presentation by Cascadia Seaweed

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read