The mystery has intrigued Canadians for more than a decade: one by one, feet with sneakers have reached the coast of British Columbia with disturbing regularity.
Recently, the 14th foot was discovered by a man walking on a beach on Gabriola Island, a picturesque enclave with a population of four thousand inhabitants, known for its captivating sandstone and its united artistic community.
This time, the foot, caught between a pile of logs, was inside what looked like a hiking boot, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The thirteen foot that had previously been found along the coast since 2007 had sports shoes: Adidas, Reebok and other brands. Every time one appeared, questions also arose: why do the feet appear in Canada? Where do they come from? Where are the other parts of the body?
The discoveries have made people speculate, whether it sounds rational or not, that severed feet could be the work of a tsunami, a human smuggler, a mafia hitman, a deranged foot fetishist or a serial killer. that had thrown parts of a corpse into the sea. Others have proposed that floating limbs may belong to people who have fallen from a boat or died in a plane crash.
British Columbia, the province that is located in the extreme west of Canada, known for its imposing mountains, its exciting ski slopes and its delicious seafood, has become accustomed to being known as the destination of what some newspapers have called Los Floating feet.
However, forensics has strived not to let conspiracy theories thrive and control the overactive imagination of people. Barb McLintock, an ex-Forense of the British Columbia Forensic Service, once called it “the myth of the famous feet”.
In 2016, when a hiker found a foot with a sock and a sports shoe on Botanica Beach on Vancouver Island, McLintock told the Canadian news media that the foot did not belong to a victim amputated by “strange serial killers” nor was it the work of “little unruly aliens” who spread their feet along the coast.
Andy Watson, a spokesman for the Forensic Service, said this week that violent crimes had been ruled out as a motive in all cases. Forensics believe that severed feet belong to people who committed suicide or had an accident: someone who slipped and fell into the sea, for example, or swimmers swallowed by the ocean after being dragged by a large wave.
Nine of the feet have been identified; two of them are from the same person, according to the Forensic Service. Most of the feet were of men. In at least three cases, the shoes were size twelve. Not all the remains belonged to Canadians.
In the most recent case, Watson said, researchers will use DNA tests to try to identify their owner.
Despite the official conclusions, the feet that reach the shore are still subject to speculation due to the opacity of their appearance and the probability that many of the deaths have not been witnessed.
The phenomenon has led to several frauds committed by pranksters who have put animal feet on shoes to deceive the police. One person used chicken bones.
Watson pointed out that the severed feet had surely been separated from the body naturally in the sea and that the shoes had helped to preserve them. Because the shoes float and the currents are strong, he said, the remains may have reached the shore even from as far north as Alaska.
In 2012, a foot found in a lake in Port Moody, northeast of Vancouver, was linked to a man whose boat had capsized while fishing in the area twenty-five years earlier.
In December of last year, a rottweiler discovered the lower part of a left leg and his foot with a white sock and a black sports shoe on the Vancouver coast. Some months later, with a DNA analysis, the researchers discovered that the remains belonged to a 79-year-old man from the state of Washington, United States. Even so, there were unanswered questions. The man’s family told the police that he had disappeared months ago, after leaving home without his medication.
Source: NY Times