“Home; the only place I where I don’t know how to be, so deep beneath the surface, I cannot breathe”
Emma Fillipoff, described by friends and family as a beautiful, creative and private girl, was only 26 years old when she went missing from Victoria, British Columbia on November 28th 2012.
A surveillance video from earlier that day shows Emma in a convenience store (7-Eleven), pacing around and cupping her hands around the glass door as she looks outside, as though she is being followed. Despite never owning one before, she purchased a pre-paid cell phone and hesitated before leaving. A little later, Emma Fillipoff got into a taxi, instructing the driver to go to the airport. When the driver asked where she was going she replied that she didn’t know. She then got out of the taxi due to insufficient funds for the fare.
Emma had traveled to Victoria in the autumn of 2011 where she worked a seasonal job at a fish and chip shop named “Red Fish Blue Fish” at 1006 Wharf Street on the Victoria inner harbor. She had a diploma in both culinary arts and photojournalism; her computer contained thousands of photographs.
Fillipoff had been staying in a women’s shelter, known as the Sandy Merriman House, for nine months before her disappearance. The shelter would later decline providing Fillipoff’s mother with information, as they claimed that it would compromise the confidentiality agreement that they had with their often vulnerable tenants.
Emma left the woman’s shelter at around 6pm and returned to the same 7-Eleven as she had been to earlier in the day, this time to purchase a pre-paid credit card at the value of $200. She acted much in the same paranoid manner before exiting the store.
She was last seen between the times of 7:30pm – 8:30pm in front of the Empress Hotel. According to a witness, Dennis Quay (an acquaintance of Fillipoff, who claimed he had only met her once before) Emma seemed confused. He saw her at a zebra crossing, refusing to cross the street. Quay asked her if she was feeling okay, and asked her if she was being followed, due to her paranoid mannerisms. Fillipoff said she was okay, so not knowing what to do; he entered a near-by restaurant and made a phone call to the police, claiming there was a dazed and distressed woman pacing in front of the Empress hotel. He assumed the police would pick her up, however they didn’t.
Police showed up and found her shoeless. They questioned her for a total of 45 minutes, asking if she felt suicidal or homicidal. She answered no to both questions and said she was going through some things, and was taking a walk before going to stay with a friend.
Dennis Quay later took a polygraph test during the investigation and was cleared as a suspect.
Investigators would find her vehicle the following morning; a red Mazda MPV '93 van, parked at Chateau Victoria parking lot, containing all of Fillipoff’s belongings, including her laptop, rented books and identification items such as her passport and library card.
On the 26th, Emma had contacted her mother back in her hometown in Ontario, asking if she could come back home. Her mother agreed. Later however, according to an episode of the Canadian show “fifth state” titled “Finding Emma Fillipoff” the missing girl’s mother states Emma called back and told her mother “I don’t know if I can face you”.
After much debate her mother made an unannounced trip to Victoria and headed to the Sandy Meriman house. She arrived three hours after Emma vanished.
The first CCTV footage that investigators found was a clip from a local YMCA five days before Emma went missing. In the clip, she walks in and out through the door six times, peering out through the glass.
Journals and writing by Emma Fillipoff suggested that she was depressed. Police unlocked her lap top and found personal entries talking about her parent’s divorce and feelings. She believed that someone was following her, and admitted that she felt stalked, in one passage mentioning a car that seemed to be tailing her. A letter from “Dead Emma” was also found on the computer; however police did not believe it to be a suicide note, as usually Emma wrote in a similar style, poetically and in prose.
A man named Julian was another suspect. The two had met back in Ontario, where he fell for Emma, however the feelings were unrequited. He continued to pursue her regardless, with phone calls and showing up to places he knew she would be. He too moved to Victoria some months later and inevitably ran into Emma on the street. He claimed that he did not intend to “Stalk her like he did the last time” and that the meeting was a pure coincidence. He was cleared as a suspect after passing a polygraph.
The cellphone she had purchased at the 7-eleven was never activated; however there was a purchase of cigarettes was made on the credit-card a week later. An investigation revealed that the card had been used by a homeless man. He claimed that he found the card by the side of the road, 20km from the Empress hotel, but due to his alcoholism was unable to recall exactly where.
Another lead in the case came from a surveillance tape of a small clothing store showing a man in a green T shirt, clutching a missing poster in his first. The cashier reported that the man seemed angry and said that he was sick of seeing Emma’s missing posters in the area. “She’s not even missing” he exclaimed “She’s my girlfriend and she just hates her parents”.
The man could not be traced.
Emma is still missing.
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