On November 28, 2012, a young woman in British Columbia disappeared as if into thin air. Emma Fillipoff, 26, disappeared under peculiar circumstances and is captured in bizarre footage by security cameras the night of her disappearance. So, what actually happened to Emma Fillipoff?
Emma was a trained chef from Ontario who had moved to Victoria in 2011 to pursue her career. She worked at a seasonal restaurant, Red Fish Blue Fish, in the Inner Harbor. She left the job in October, as it was seasonal, and promised she’d return in the Spring when operations resumed. She had been living at a women’s shelter in the months before her disappearance, despite having enough money in her bank account to have her own apartment.
On November 23, Fillipoff is seen on security footage entering the Victoria YMCA, entering and leaving multiple times, as though avoiding someone who may have been following her. She can be seen anxiously watching the crowd outside in the footage. In her diary, kept during her time in Victoria, there is no indication that she is being stalked or harassed, though experts believe the entries point to some degree of depression.
Emma’s last words to her mother on the phone before her disappearance were “I don’t know how I can face you.” Upon finding out her daughter had been living in a women’s shelter, Emma’s mother made immediate plans to visit her in Victoria, despite her daughter’s insistence that she not come.
Emma was seen on the morning of November 28 in a 7/11 convenience store buying a pre-paid credit card for $200. She returns later to purchase a pre-paid cell phone. Security footage shows her hesitating to leave the store, seemingly checking the street outside, not unlike in the YMCA video footage. She later left the women’s shelter at 6 PM, hailing a taxi and asking for a ride to the airport. Emma leaves the taxi shortly after, however, citing a lack of funds, despite the $200 prepaid card that was known to be in her possession.
She was last seen between 7:30 and 8:30, in front of the Empress Hotel. The last person to see her, an acquaintance named Dennis Quay, says he found her barefoot, confused and refusing to cross the street at a crossing. He asked her if she was being followed, and she told her friend she was okay. Quay called the police, warning that his friend was dazed and confused.
Police released her after determining she was not a threat to herself or others. Emma’s mother arrived at 11 PM that night, missing her daughter by only hours. Quay would later recount that, had he known the police were going to simply let Emma go, he would not have left her alone after calling them. Victoria police have found next to no physical evidence in the case, despite exploring over 200 leads.
There is no proof she ever left the city. The pre-paid phone she bought was never activated. Her vehicle was found the next day, containing her laptop, passport and other important items. Some have theorized that Fillipoff may have developed schizophrenia and gone untreated during her time in Victoria. Her disappearance has baffled investigators, and, to this day, it is unclear what ever happened to her, whether she is still alive or why she was acting so bizarrely in the weeks leading up to her disappearance.