British Columbia

Mother of missing woman marks 5 years since disappearance in Victoria, B.C.

'I can't rely on my instincts anymore. I can't rely on my heart because my heart wants her to be alive so desperately,' says Shelly Filipoff about her daughter Emma who was last seen in Victoria on Nov. 28, 2012.

Volunteers to hold vigils Nov. 28 in Victoria, Campbell River, Perth, Ont., and Halifax

Emma Fillipoff in an undated photograph. She was last seen in Victoria B.C. on Nov. 28, 2012. (

The mother of a young woman missing for five years is marking the anniversary by returning to the B.C. city where she vanished from.

On Nov. 28, 2012, Emma Fillipoff, then 26, was last seen near the Empress Hotel in Victoria around 7:30 at night.

I can't rely on my instincts anymore. I can't rely on my heart because my heart wants her to be alive so desperately.- Shelley Fillipoff, mother of Emma Fillipoff.

"When she disappeared, she literally vanished," said Shelley Fillipoff who lives in Perth, Ont. "She didn't leave a trail of any sort. So there was nothing."

She returned to Victoria this week to meet with police to review, one more time, the file — which has grown to 1,300 pages of tips and leads — and to host a candlelight walk on Tuesday, Nov. 28 to mark the anniversary.

Other similar walks will be held at the same time by volunteers in Campbell River B.C., Perth and Halifax — all the places where Fillipoff either grew up or spent time.

"I get a lot of tips ... but none of them amount to anything," said her mother who refuses to give up searching for her daughter.

She has no inkling what happened to Emma.

"To say that I have a gut feeling as to what happened to her ... I don't. I can't rely on my instincts anymore. I can't rely on my heart because my heart wants her to be alive so desperately."

Other problems

Since her disappearance Emma's Fillipoff's story has gained widespread media attention, including a story by the CBC's The Fifth Estate in 2014.

It explored whether Fillipoff was killed, committed suicide or just didn't want to be found.

Shelley Fillipoff has not only endured uncertainty over the fate of her daughter, she was also jailed five days after she was charged in 2016 with money laundering, drug and weapons offences.

The charges were laid after a months-long police investigation into her son, real-estate agent Matthew Fillipoff, who the Ontario Provincial Police allege was supplying cocaine to street-level traffickers in Lanark County in southeastern Ontario.

The charges against Shelley Fillipoff were dropped a year ago.

"It was horrendous," she said about the ordeal. "It was not something I needed."

'Live through hope'

Shelley Fillipoff says mental illness runs in the family and her daughter spent time in a women's shelter in Victoria before she went missing.

But every time she despairs she forces herself to hope Emma will be found.

"When I do have a feeling, 'oh my God maybe something horrible has happened,' then I try to bring hope into it and think, 'well there's just as much chance that she's alive somewhere as she's not.' So I try to live through that hope."

With files from Yvette Brend.