Salish Sea human foot discoveries
The Salish Sea human foot discoveries refers to the discoveries of multiple detached human feet on the Pacific Northwest coasts of the Salish Sea in British Columbia, Canada, and Washington, United States. The first discovery occurred on August 20, 2007 on Jedediah Island in British Columbia. In the years since, multiple detached feet have been discovered on the coasts of numerous islands in British Columbia, as well as in the U.S. cities of Tacoma and Seattle.
In December 2017, The Guardian reported: "In the past dozen cases, the provincial coroner’s office has ruled out foul play... All of the individuals either killed themselves or died accidentally, with their feet naturally coming apart from their bodies during decomposition, said the coroner. ... The ubiquitous presence of running shoes might explain some of the mystery; made with light but durable materials, the shoes both protect the foot from decomposition and act as a flotation device that pulls it to the surface."
Such discoveries can be dated back a century with the discovery of a leg in a boot on a Vancouver beach in 1887.
In July 2008 it was announced that one foot had been identified by Vancouver police, using DNA, as belonging to a man who was depressed and probably committed suicide. His identity was withheld on request of his family.
These foot discoveries are not the first ones on British Columbia's coast. One was found in Vancouver in 1887, leading to the place of discovery being called Leg-In-Boot Square. On 30 July 1914, The Vancouver Sun reported that recent arrivals from Kimsquit reported a human leg encased in a high boot was found on a beach near the mouth of the Salmon River (a previous name for the Dean River near Kimsquit, near the headwater of Dean Channel). It was thought the remains were from a man who had drowned on the river the previous summer.
|1||August 20, 2007||Jedediah Island, BC, Canada||A girl visiting from Washington picked up a size 12 Adidas shoe and opened the sock to find a man's right foot. It is thought to have become disarticulated due to submerged decay. This kind of shoe was produced in 2003 and distributed mainly in India. A man's right foot; size 12 white-and-blue-mesh running shoe. The remains were identified as those of a missing man suffering from depression.|
|2||August 26, 2007||Gabriola Island, BC, Canada||A man's right foot, discovered by a couple, also disarticulated due to decay. It was waterlogged and appeared to have been taken ashore by an animal. It probably floated ashore from the south. The shoe, a size 12 white Reebok, was produced in 2004 and sold worldwide but primarily in North America, and the type has since been discontinued.|
|3||February 8, 2008||Valdes Island, BC, Canada||A right foot in a size 11 Nike. The remains were identified as a 21-year-old Surrey man reported missing four years prior, whose death is considered "not suspicious", indicating either misadventure or suicide. This type of shoe was sold in Canada and the United States between February 1, 2003, and June 30, 2003. It has been confirmed that the right foot found February 8 on Valdes Island and left foot found on June 16 on Westham Island belonged to the same man.||
|4||May 22, 2008||Kirkland Island, BC, Canada||A woman's right foot; blue-and-white New Balance sneaker. The fourth foot was discovered on an island in the Fraser Delta between Richmond and Delta, British Columbia. It was also wearing a sock and sneaker. It is thought to have washed down the Fraser River, having nothing to do with the ones found in the Gulf Islands. The shoe was a New Balance sneaker manufactured in 1999. In 2011, the fourth sneaker found in Kirkland Island was identified as being part of a pair of blue and white New Balance sneakers belonging to a woman who jumped from the Pattullo Bridge in New Westminster in April 2004.||
|5||June 16, 2008||Westham Island, BC, Canada||A man's left foot was found by two hikers on June 16, floating in water in Delta. It has been confirmed that the left foot found on June 16 on Westham Island and the right foot found February 8 on Valdes Island belonged to the same man.||
|6||August 1, 2008||Near Pysht, Washington, US||A right foot inside a man's black size 11 shoe was discovered by a camper on a beach. It was covered in seaweed. The site of the discovery was less than 16 kilometers from the international border in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Testing confirmed that the foot was human. Police say the large black-top, size 11 athletic shoe for a right foot contains bones and flesh. This was the first foot of the series to be found outside of British Columbia. The RCMP and Clallam County Sheriff's Department agreed on August 5 that the foot could have been carried south from Canadian waters.||
|7||November 11, 2008||Richmond, BC, Canada||A known woman's left foot, in a shoe that was found floating in the Fraser River in Richmond. The shoe was described as a small New Balance running shoe, possibly a woman's shoe. A forensic DNA profiling analysis indicated that it was a genetic match to the foot discovered on May 22 on Kirkland Island.||
|8||October 27, 2009||Richmond, BC, Canada||A right foot in a size 8½ Nike running shoe on a beach in Richmond. The remains were identified as a Vancouver-area man who was reported missing in January 2008.||
|9||August 27, 2010||Whidbey Island, Washington, US||A woman's or child's right foot, without a shoe or sock. This foot was determined to have been in the water for two months. Detective Ed Wallace of the Island County Sheriff's Office released a statement saying the foot would be tested for DNA. However, there was no match found in the national DNA database.||
|10||December 5, 2010||Tacoma, Washington, US||Found on the tidal flats. "The right foot was still inside a boy's size 6 'Ozark Trail' hiking boot, and likely belonged to a juvenile or small adult," police spokesman Mark Fulghum said Tuesday in Tacoma, about 40 kilometers south of Seattle and 225 kilometers south of Vancouver.||
|11||August 30, 2011||False Creek, BC, Canada||Sex unknown. The foot was found in a man's white and blue size 9 runner, floating next to the Plaza of Nations marina, attached to the lower leg bones. It had disarticulated naturally at the knee due to the water.||
|12||November 4, 2011||Sasamat Lake, BC, Canada||A man's right foot inside a size 12 hiking boot was discovered by a group of campers in a pool of fresh water at Sasamat Lake near Port Moody. In January 2012, this foot was identified by the B.C. Coroner's Service as that of Stefan Zahorujko, a local fisherman who went missing in 1987. Police believe the foot separated naturally from the body and do not suspect foul play.||
|13||December 10, 2011||Lake Union, Seattle, Washington, US||Human leg bone and foot in a black plastic bag under the Ship Canal Bridge. As of January 2, 2012, the medical examiner had not found a cause of death or identified the body.|
|14||January 26, 2012||Vancouver, BC, Canada||On January 26, 2012, the remains of "what appears to be human bones inside a boot" were found in the sand along the water line at the dog park near the Maritime Museum at the foot of Arbutus Street, in Vancouver.||
|15||May 6, 2014||Seattle, Washington, US||Human foot in white New Balance shoe found along the shoreline of Centennial Park near the Pier 86 grain terminal. The New Balance model 622 athletic shoe was white with blue trim, size men's 10½. This model of shoe was first available for sale in April 2008. From an initial news photo, it appears to be a left foot.|
|16||February 7, 2016||Vancouver Island, BC, Canada||Hikers on Botanical Beach, near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, found a foot in a sock and running shoe.||
|17||February 12, 2016||Vancouver Island, BC, Canada||A foot washed up near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. BC Coroners Service said it matches one found there five days earlier.||(approximate)|
|18||December 8, 2017||Vancouver Island, BC, Canada||Remains of a leg with a shoe attached washed up on the near the settlement of Jordan River on Vancouver Island.|
|19||May 6, 2018||Gabriola Island, BC, Canada||Shortly after noon on Sunday 6 May, a man walking along the shore on Gabriola Island encountered a hiking boot, with a human foot inside, wedged in a logjam.|
Another "human" foot, discovered on June 18, 2008, on Tyee Spit near Campbell River on Vancouver Island, was a hoax. The hoax was a "skeletonized animal paw" which was put in a sock and shoe and then stuffed with dried seaweed. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have begun an investigation into the hoax, and an arrest could result in charges of public mischief.[needs update]
After the eleventh foot was found on August 31, 2011, several running shoes containing what police suspected was raw meat were found washed up on Oak Beach, British Columbia.
The series of discoveries has been called "astounding" and "almost beyond explanation", as no other body parts have turned up. The discoveries have caused speculation that the feet may be those of people who died in a boating accident or a plane crash in the ocean. One explanation is that some of the feet are those of four men who died in a plane crash near Quadra Island in 2005 and whose bodies have not been recovered, though one of the feet has been determined to be from a female. Foul play has also been suggested, although none of the first four feet showed tool marks. This does not rule out foul play, however; it is possible that the bodies could have been weighted down and disposed of, and the feet were separated due to natural decay.
Determining the origin of the feet is complicated because ocean currents may carry floating items long distances, and because currents in the Strait of Georgia are unpredictable. A foot may float as far as 1,000 miles (1,600 km). Also, human feet have a tendency to produce adipocere (a soap-like substance formed from body fat), which makes it hard for forensic scientists to find clues. Under optimal conditions, a human body may remain intact in water for as long as three decades, meaning that the feet may have been floating around for years.
Another theory is that the feet belonged to people who died in the Asian tsunami on December 26, 2004. Richmond-based writer Shane Lambert said that many of the shoes found were manufactured and sold in 2004 or earlier, and that there could be other sources for the shoes or multiple sources. However, besides the dates when the shoes were manufactured, Lambert said ocean currents and their ultimate northward tendencies up the Pacific Ocean from part of the region that was hit by the 2004 tsunami.
One foot has been identified as belonging to a man who was depressed and was believed to have committed suicide. Another two feet were identified as belonging to a woman who committed suicide by jumping from the Pattullo Bridge ( ) in New Westminster, B.C., in 2004. This suggests the feet could belong to other people who have jumped from the bridge .
Level of rarity
Decomposition may separate the foot from the body because the ankle is relatively weak, and the buoyancy caused by air either inside or trapped within a shoe would allow it to float away. According to Simon Fraser University entomologist Gail Anderson, extremities such as the hands, feet, and head often detach as a body decomposes in the water, although they rarely float.
However, finding feet and not the rest of the bodies has been deemed unusual. Finding two feet has been given a "million to one odds" and has thus been described as "an anomaly". The finding of the third foot made it the first time three such discoveries had been made so close to each other. The fourth discovery caused speculation about human interference and, statistically, was called "curious".
After the fifth foot was discovered the story had begun to receive increased international media attention. With major headlines from newspapers such as the Melbourne Herald Sun, The Guardian, and the Cape Times in South Africa, the story elicited much speculation about the cause of the mystery, originating from "morbid fascination" with this type of subject, as stated by one scientist who identifies remains of victims. David Letterman also questioned two of his audience members who were Canadian about the mystery during one of his shows.
Jørn Lier Horst, a Norwegian police officer, wrote a 2011 novel, Dregs, inspired by the events, in which an experienced investigator gives a new explanation for the findings.[better source needed] Simon Beckett used the discovery of the feet as a back story in his novel The Restless Dead. It is mentioned when the main character, Dr David Hunter, a forensic anthropologist, discovers a severed foot in a river.[better source needed]
- "Human foot found on Canada shoreline – the 13th such discovery in a decade". The Guardian. 13 Dec 2017.
- Thompson, Mitch (14 January 2010). "Believe it or not: The Unexpected History of Three Lower Mainland Roads". Kwantlen Chronicle.
- "Human foot found on Gabriola Island sparks investigation". CTV News. 7 May 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
- "Tacoma police say human foot washed ashore". The Seattle Times. Tacoma, WA. 14 Dec 2010. Retrieved 8 Mar 2011.
- "Severed human foot found washed ashore on Vancouver Island". Daily Hive. 10 Feb 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
- "Severed human foot found on Southern Vancouver Island". CBC News. 8 Dec 2017.
- "Another severed foot washes up on B.C. shore". CTV News. 11 Nov 2008. Retrieved 11 Nov 2008.
- "Canada coroner matches pair of mysterious feet". MSNBC. 6 Jun 2011. Retrieved 6 Jun 2011.
- "O'Rourke, Jennifer". ABC BookWorld. B.C. BookWorld.
- "Human leg is found encased in a boot". The Vancouver Sun. 30 Jul 1914. p. 9.
- "Discovery of unattached human feet baffles B.C. police". CBC News. August 31, 2007. Retrieved 18 Jun 2008.
- Freeman, Sunny (31 Aug 2007). "Two large right feet found on Georgia Strait beaches; 'Finding one foot is like a million to one odds, but to find two is crazy' RCMP corporal's 'best guess is that they are from missing persons'". The Vancouver Sun. p. A1.
- "2 of 5 feet found on B.C. coast belong to same man: RCMP". CBC News. 10 Jul 2008. Archived from the original on 12 Feb 2016. Retrieved 12 Feb 2016.
- Bailey, Ian (24 Aug 2012) [25 May 2011]. "Human feet washed up in B.C. identified". The Globe and Mail. Vancouver. Archived from the original on 13 February 2016. Retrieved 13 Feb 2016.
- Fong, Petti (10 Jul 2008). "Two mystery feet from same person, B.C. police say". Toronto Star. Retrieved 10 Jul 2008.
- "5th foot found on B.C.'s south coast". CBC News. 17 Jun 2008. Retrieved 18 Jun 2008.
- "Fourth right foot washes up near Vancouver, RCMP confirm". CBC News. 24 May 2008. Retrieved 18 Jun 2008.
- Lavoie, Judith (26 May 2008). "Latest washed-up foot likely a woman's, says finder". The Vancouver Sun. p. A7.
- "7th Human Foot Washes Ashore on Canadian Coast". Fox News. 13 Nov 2008. Retrieved 13 Nov 2008.
- "Feet That Washed Ashore in Northwest Identified". ABC News. 21 Oct 2011. Archived from the original on 23 October 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
- Carrigg, David (17 Jun 2008). "Fifth human foot — with shoe — found floating; Two most recent finds in Fraser delta, other three off Gulf Islands". The Province. p. A3.
- "Missing foot mystery deepens with latest find". CTV News British Columbia. 3 Aug 2008. Retrieved 3 Aug 2008.
- Dickerson, Peninsula Daily News, Paige (6 Aug 2008). "Foot found in U.S. may be from Canada". The Vancouver Sun. p. a6.
- Bailey, Ian (5 Dec 2008). "DNA tests match feet washed ashore". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 6 Dec 2008.
- "Human remains in shoe found near Vancouver". CBC.ca. 28 Oct 2009. Archived from the original on 31 October 2009. Retrieved 28 Oct 2009.
- "Found foot belonged to man reported missing in 2008". The Vancouver Sun. CanWest MediaWorks Publications. 7 Nov 2009. Archived from the original on 13 Feb 2016. Retrieved 13 Feb 2016 – via Postmedia Network.
- KOMO-TV Staff (27 Aug 2010). "Human foot washes ashore on Whidbey Island". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 27 Aug 2010.
- CBC News (27 Aug 2010). "Human foot found on West Coast beach".
- "No DNA match found for human foot found on Whidbey Island". MyNorthwest. 30 Mar 2011.
- "Tenth foot washes up, on beach near Tacoma". Vancouver Sun. 16 Dec 2010. Archived from the original on 29 June 2015. Retrieved 17 Dec 2010.
On Dec. 5, a man walking along the shore spotted the foot and called police.
- "Vancouver Foot Is Human: Autopsy Report". Huffington Post. 31 Aug 2011. Retrieved 10 Sep 2011.
- "Coroner investigates remains found in False Creek". Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. 31 Aug 2011. Retrieved 10 Sep 2011.
- McLaughlin, Michael (10 Nov 2011). "Human Foot found in Sasamat Lake, Canada". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 Nov 2011.
- "Foot found in B.C. lake identified after 25 years". CBC News. 18 Feb 2012. Retrieved 18 Feb 2012.
- "Foot in lake not linked to foul play". The Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on 14 November 2011. Retrieved 19 Nov 2011.
- Heffter, Emily (10 Dec 2011), "Human remains found in Eastlake neighborhood", The Seattle Times
- McNerthney, Casey (2 Jan 2012). "List of 2011 homicides in Seattle; City's homicide rate on 1950s pace". Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
- "Possible Human Remains Found Washed Up in Shoe". Vancouver Police Department. 26 Jan 2012. Retrieved 18 Feb 2012.
- "Human foot in tennis shoe washes ashore in Seattle". Q13 Fox News. 6 May 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
- "Foot in shoe that washed ashore in Seattle likely not severed". Q13 Fox News. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
- "Human Foot in Sneaker Found on Seattle Waterfront". Seattle Times. 6 May 2014.
- "Human Foot Found on Seattle Waterfront". CTV News. 6 May 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
- Sundstrom, Lauren (10 Feb 2016), "Severed human foot found washed ashore on Vancouver Island", Vancity Buzz
- Wilson, Carla (9 Feb 2016), "Human foot found in shoe at Botanical Beach", Times Colonist
- "Second foot washed up in B.C. matches first, confirmed to be human: coroner", Canadian Press, 17 Feb 2016
- "Police Investigate Human Foot Found at Jordan River beach Thursday", Victoria Buzz, 8 Dec 2017
- Haag, Matthew (12 Dec 2017). "Another human foot washes ashore in Canada. That makes 13". boston.com.
- "13 Füße in zehn Jahren angeschwemmt". bild.de. 15 Dec 2017.
- "Another human foot washes up on B.C. shores". Global News. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
- "6th foot found on B.C. south coast". CBC News. 18 Jun 2008. Retrieved 18 Jun 2008.
- "Latest floating 'foot' turns out to be a hoax". CNN. 18 Jun 2008. Retrieved 18 Jun 2008.
- "'Foot' hoax on B.C. south coast despicable: police". CBC News. 18 Jun 2008. Retrieved 18 Jun 2008.
- "Latest Floating Feet Are a Hoax, Police Say". ABC News. 6 Sep 2011. Retrieved 10 Sep 2011.
- Bellett, Gary (24 May 2008). "A fourth foot deepens the mystery; The severed-feet explanation is 'beyond imagination,' expert says after latest find". The Vancouver Sun. p. B1. Original article wrote five bodies, but it has since been confirmed that two of the feet belong to the same person.
- Chan, Cheryl (23 May 2008). "Fourth foot fuels flotsam frenzy; Still no clues after boater's discovery in Richmond". p. A4.
- "Mysterious feet may be linked to single accident: B.C. forensic expert". CBC News. 17 Jun 2008. Retrieved 18 Jun 2008.
- "Human right foot found on Valdes; This is the third foot to wash up on a Gulf Island within a year;". The Province. 15 Feb 2008. p. A3.
- Heiman, Carolyn (25 May 2005). "Families of victims seek expert's help". The Province. p. A9.
- Lambert, Shane (December 16, 2010). "Human Feet in the Pacific Northwest – a Better Theory?". Tree Pony.
- "B.C. Feet Mystery Partly Solved, As Coroner Identifies Female Suicide Victim". HuffPost. 19 Oct 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
- White, Patrick (20 Jun 2008). "Fascinated by B.C.'s floating feet". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2 Nov 2009.
- Richmond, Vanessa (26 Jun 2008). "Super, Horrific BC". The Tyee. Retrieved 2 Nov 2009.
- "Dregs by Jorn Lier Horst | Sandstone Press". sandstonepress.com. Retrieved 25 Feb 2016.
- Horst, Jorn Lier (19 Aug 2015). "Mystery of the Disembodied Feet". Retrieved 9 Oct 2016.
- Beckett, Simon (2017). "9". The Restless Dead (1 ed.). London: Bantam Press. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-0-593-06347-7.
- "Found feet; Human feet found near B.C. shores since August 2007 [interactive map of discoveries]", CBC News, November 8, 2011
- "Human Feet and Graham Crackers" (podcast), How To Do Everything, NPR, May 14, 2014
- Clark, Josh (June 2016), "Why Are So Many Disembodied Feet Washing Ashore In British Columbia?" (podcast), Stuff You Should Know