So I’ve been contemplating branching out on the blog for quite some time now. As anyone who follows will gather food is a passion of mine. Turns out I have a few others as well, one of which is true crime. I’ve always been passionate about true crime for as long as I can remember and this led me through my educational path – Criminology and Legal Assistant diplomas.
More recently the general scope of true crime has really focused in on the mystery and phenomenon surrounding missing persons. It absolutely mystifies me that someone can vanish and potentially never be found. Long story short this has brought me here to this moment.
After listening to 6+ hours of podcasts, interviews, and footage on this case I want to dedicate this post to Emma Fillipoff as today marks exactly 4 years since her disappearance.
Almost all of the information I have gathered is publicly available, so what I am writing is potentially just repeating what others before me have put out there but I still think it’s important to spread awareness.
So from what I have been able to gather Emma grew up in Perth Ontario and moved to Campbell River, B.C on Vancouver Island (which is where I was born and raised) where she worked as a chef at the Royal Coachman. This is a local pub, nothing fancy, but I know that she met some friends here, some even that I know. Now I myself was never personally friends with Emma so all of my information is second-hand.
I believe after Campbell River she went back to Perth for a short period of time before moving to Victoria, B.C on Vancouver Island. She went without a job or a place to stay hoping to figure it out when she arrived.
Now I have some conflicting information that I’ve been told by a friend but that I’ve never seen on any of the podcasts, interviews, timelines, or documentaries – that she had a fairly serious boyfriend in Campbell River that she lived with and this lasted throughout her move to Victoria. I heard this from a very close source who personally knew her so I am confused why if it was a serious relationship it is not mentioned anywhere…? I read that she was only in one relationship for a short period of 3 months. Possibly her family didn’t know about this boyfriend or it was the short one and it was actually less serious than I was under the impression of. I have also read that she told friends about some guy from Campbell River who was “harassing” her and she was quite stressed about it. Now I am not saying these are the same people or are connected this is just what I’ve been told or read but this does seem quite strange to me.
She didn’t have a technical address so she used the help of close friends to receive mail and also to book a storage unit in their name. She eventually also purchased a van to which she moved her belongings into and told her friends of travel plans.
While in Victoria she was living quite a free lifestyle – working seasonally at Red Fish, Blue Fish and living in a variety of places – friends houses, house boats, a women’s shelter, and sometimes even outside in the woods.
Now staff at the women’s shelter say they noticed some very odd behaviour leading up to the disappearance. She was moving furniture out onto the lawn complaining they were being noisy and saying things to her. She was seen on surveillance footage at 7-11 and the YMCA looking very nervous, checking out the window as if looking for someone, complained of someone being after her etc. So there were some clear signs of a decline in mental health. Her family back in Ontario was not aware that she had been staying in a shelter or outside. Her mother made the connection because the name Sandy Merriman was appearing on the call display which she assumed was a friend she was staying with. She later learned Sandy Merriman is the name of a shelter when she called the number back.
Her mother had received a series of distressed phone calls from Emma saying she needs to come home, always followed a few hours later by another call claiming she’s ok and to cancel the plans. After the last call, her mother Shelly decides she is booking a flight regardless of Emma’s wishes that she cancel her plans to come help her move home.
The day she went missing Emma is seen on surveillance footage purchasing prepaid credit card as well as prepaid cell phone, which was odd. Emma did not own a cell phone because she was a free spirit and preferred to communicate through poetic often cryptic email. Emma had caught a cab that day and wanted to go to the airport but upon learning the price of the $60 fare she told the driver she could not afford it. She could however afford it because she had $3,000 in her account and also had the $200 pre-paid credit card in her possession.
She had been seen a few times during that day and all sightings report Emma to be carrying a lot of bags and shuffling around down town Victoria seeming very empty-eyed and not herself.
A friend, Denis Quay, had seen her and was alarmed by her behaviour and appearance on November 28, 2012. He walked with her for a while observing some behaviour that concerned him enough that he eventually made a call to the police to report his friend who was distressed, shoe-less, and almost speechless. The Victoria PD assessed her for 45 minutes and decided that was all they could do. Apparently they asked her if she had eaten, if she had a place to stay, if she was suicidal etc. A lot of people have expressed outrage that the police left her here and did not even offer to drive her anywhere, but in my opinion 45 minutes seems like a good chunk of time. I personally know that Victoria is teeming with transient and homeless population and I doubt they can spend 45 minutes with each of them, I’ve also heard that due to liability reasons officers are not even allowed to offer rides to people. Obviously it is not to say I don’t wish they could offer more but I don’t know that this is their fault.
Emma’s Mother’s flight touches down in Victoria unbeknownst to Emma a mere 3 hours after Emma’s last ever confirmed sighting. She goes to the women’s shelter and learns that Emma didn’t claim her bed that night. From this point on, 4 years ago today, Emma Fillipoff becomes a missing person and is never seen again.
There is much speculation in this case since it is unsolved and there seem to be a few odd happenings after her disappearance. Here are a few:
One big thing in this case that is, in my opinion, undecidedly a huge red flag or a huge coincidence is Julien Huard. This man met Emma in Perth Ontario previous to her move to Victoria. They spent time together and enjoyed each other’s company but Emma broke it off due to the fact she was planning to move and didn’t want to get attached. A few months after she moved to Victoria she is surprised to bump into Julien. He says he didn’t know she was moving to Victoria and it was a huge coincidence, which fair enough it is the capital and a well-known place, but it’s also such a far place to move not knowing that the girl you like is moving there too. In an email to Emma’s father prior to her disappearance, Julien apologized for having “stalked” his daughter. Those were Julien’s own words. A very alarming choice of words, but worth noting that English is not his first language and he claims it was a very big misuse of the word and he meant more along the lines of “courting”. After Emma’s mother is in Victoria looking for Emma, Julien bumps into her at the library where Emma frequented. Although he had met her father in Perth, he had never met her mother, and she was really put off by his recognizing her off of facebook. He joined the search until he became known as a suspect and removed himself from the scene. When I was hearing all this I found it quite suspicious, then I also heard an hour-long interview with him where he explains some of these things a bit more and some of them do seem to be coincidences but it’s really hard to tell. I can see why the family would want him looked into further and police apparently did clear him by a polygraph and no evidence has ever linked him to her disappearance other than a string of odd “coincidences”.
In Vancouver there was a sighting of Emma where someone snapped a photograph and shared it with the RCMP and the family. Her mother and father were 100% convinced it was her. They said the woman resembled Emma more than some of their own photos of Emma. She had been seen journalling in a coffee shop which Emma liked to do. They were able to track down this woman who just happened to have an uncanny and heartbreaking resemblance to Emma. Emma had many different looks and often changed her hair and style.
Then there was “green shirt guy” who is still known by this nickname. A 30 something looking man in Vancouver with a green shirt, dark hair, and distinctive tattoos on his arm was seen ripping down missing persons flyers of Emma and telling staff that Emma was his girlfriend and just did not want to be found. He was very irritated and staff was alarmed. They contacted police who immediately wanted to seek this person and question them but they were never able to. No one has ever identified him. The surveillance video of him is available online. To me it looked as if one leg was shorter or he had a distinctive walk.
Then there was the incident where the prepaid credit card that Emma had purchased the day of her disappearance had been used. It was used in a gas station by a man who purchased cigarettes. He told the police an exact location that he found the card, although the man later contacted Emma’s mother on 3 occasions to say that he was an alcoholic and he could not in fact remember the location he actually found it. I believe this guy was also cleared by polygraph. The pre paid cellphone was never activated therefore never used, and her bank account with $3,000 has never been touched.
Obviously Emma’s state of mind was not great. She had been displaying clear signs of mental illness and there are a few possibilities that have come up to what has happened.
Foul Play -> Someone could have taken advantage of her vulnerable state. I have also heard that not every person who had let her stay on their boat had been located and talked to. I just can’t even think of all the possible locations you can get to on a boat from Victoria, they are infinite. That person wouldn’t even have to return to the harbour. The possibility of Julien being involved or any of the random people like green shirt guy that has not ever been talked to or cleared. In my opinion if she was abducted or met with foul play it is not a random coincidence. I believe it would be someone who knows her mental state is declining and this could be a crime of opportunity. Maybe someone she knew offered her a ride out of the city?
Suicide -> Emma had written a poem which she had written from the point of view of “dead Emma” some people have speculated that this was a suicide note, others have chalked it up to her poetic almost philosophic view. This was also written over a year before her going missing. She was apparently seen giving away some of her personal belongings prior to going missing which could lead some to believe maybe she couldn’t handle the paranoia she was experiencing. We never know what she was thinking or how rational her though process was at that time.
Missing by choice -> I have heard lots of theories on this that she just wanted to get out of civilization. She had spent time living in the woods, eating mostly seeds and nuts, and refused to integrate into the heavily technological world. She might have just ended up skipping town and blending in somewhere with a heavy transient population or possibly right off the grid somewhere? The phone and credit card purchase would definitely lead one to speculate she was planning something. Also being seen with lots of bags on that day. She had also talked of dream of traveling the world. It is far-fetched but what if she made it out of Victoria and then further. Although her passport was found in her van after it was located at a later point, there are other ways around. Canada is a large place she could be somewhere still here if the first 2 don’t apply.
None of these scenarios are great and I’m not sure the likely hood of a positive outcome but it’s always worth talking about.
Now after her disappearance the news has been bombarded with the story that her mother has been charged with trafficking cocaine and possession of banned weapons. She maintains her innocence and said her son was using the basement unknown to her as a stash place. The charges have since been dropped but people are quick to use any opportunity to shift blame. Does this mean she has something to do with her daughter’s disappearance? Personally I doubt it, but some people believe so. I have heard conflicting stories of Emma being at absolute odds with her mother and even going as far as telling friends she hated her, moved to escape her, and that her family was “messed up”. I have also read stories that she loved her parents. There is always always 2 sides and at this point I can’t really speculate on the family situation. We know her mother has never stopped looking for her and has been the driving force behind the searches. I cannot imagine how this would affect a mother.
At the time of her disappearance Emma had long brown hair, was 26 years old, brown eyes.
If you are interested these are a few of the places I found my information.