A Canada-wide search is underway after 37-year-old Justina Ellis failed to return to her East Vancouver halfway house on the afternoon of March 30.
The Vancouver Police Department issued a news release Monday asking for the public's help in locating the woman.
Ellis is wanted nation-wide for not complying with her “Long Term Supervision Order.”
In an interview Tuesday, VPD spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin explained that terminology means that conditions were placed upon Ellis after previous convictions, that she's been placed in a halfway house for an extended period and requires long-term monitoring.
Visintin also confirmed that Ellis is known to police in other jurisdictions in Canada.
“She is known to be a violent offender, so that's why we're advising the public,” Visintin said Tuesday. “If they do see her or somebody who looks like her, do not approach her. Call 911.”
The VPD wouldn't confirm the extent nor nature of that behaviour or Ellis's past.
Ellis is Indigenous, stands at 5’4” tall and weighs 135 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes. Ellis was last seen wearing a black oversized hooded jacket, blue jeans and was carrying a purse.
Court records from the Yukon show that Ellis was convicted of assaulting her common-law spouse as a result of stabbing him in the leg in 2003. She received a conditional discharge and six months probation.
Ellis was convicted of manslaughter in Yukon Supreme Court in 2005 and was sentenced to six years imprisonment in relation to the beating death of her infant daughter. Ellis was 23 at the time.
Court records show that by that stage in her young life in 2005, Ellis was already living with cocaine and alcohol addiction, partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Borderline Personality Disorder.
“Compounding this tragedy is the fact that the Yukon does not yet have the comprehensive residential treatment program that Justina Ellis requires,” Justice R.S. Veale wrote in his verdict of the case in November 2005.
Court records from that trial show a lengthy history of tragedy from long before Ellis's 2005 court appearance.
Testimony provided by fetal alcohol expert Dr. Asante showed that Ellis's mother used “significant alcohol” during her pregnancy. Ellis was placed in her maternal grandmother's care at age three.
By grades three and four Ellis was sniffing whiteout, then gas and began using cannabis. By age 10, Ellis was reunited with her mother but left home again because of parental drinking and reported sexual abuse by her mother’s boyfriend.
Ellis described herself as being “a full alcoholic at twelve years,” and began engaging in high-risk behaviour: alcohol, intravenous drug use, sexual activity and episodes of self-mutilation.
Ellis sought treatment but was hospitalized for overdosing and suicide attempts. Dr. Asante's assessment in 2005 said other factors could also be at play: attachment, mood and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders along with a Hepatitis C diagnosis.
Coming out of the 2005 court case was a recommendation that Ellis travel to the Fraser Valley Institute in Abbotsford to undergo comprehensive behaviour therapy.
Ellis was back in Yukon Territorial Court in August 2016 as a result of a robbery conviction. She was given a 10-year supervision order along with a dangerous offender designation. She was sentenced to 28 months, but served four months after being given 24 months’ credit for time served in pre-trial custody.
Ellis's designation as a dangerous offender was overturned by the Yukon Court of Appeal last year.
Anyone who sees Ellis, or knows her whereabouts, is asked to call 911 immediately.