Thursday, February 18, 2016

Pacific North West macabre shoe finds

Washed up shoes containing human feet continue in British Columbia with the most recent find in February 2016. A pair of running shoes containing human feet washed up on on Botanical Beach almost a week apart. The BC Coroners Service Identification Unit were able to confirm the macabre findings were a matching pair of human feet. The latest find involved men’s New Balance running shoes, blue and black in colour, size 12. This type of shoe was first sold in North America in March 2013 which implies that the shoe’s owner died at some point between March 2013 and December 2015. These are the 13th and 14th feet that have washed up along the B.C. coastline since 2007.

Feet disarticulate naturally from the rest of the body, a result of prolonged immersion in water and washed up remains have been a reasonably regular find along this coast since 2007. British Columbia coroner, Stephen Fonseca, was convinced the earliest finds did not belong to victims of the Asian Tsunami of 2004 and has also dismissed the theory they were victims of a human trafficking ring or that they might be stowaways who smuggled themselves onto a container ship as it left Vancouver. The BC Coroners Service has been able to identify 10 of the previous 12 feet, belonging to seven individuals. In none of the cases was any foul play involved. Seems on the balance of probability most belonged to suicides who threw themselves off nearby bridges. Whilst bodies submerged in water decompose the feet in all cases were preserved by the rubber soled shoes. The shoe not only protects the decomposing foot but because its buoyancy floats on the tides it can carry them hundreds of miles. Fish are unable to chew through them and the remains were taken by the tide and deposited at random places along the coast of British Columbia in Canada and Washington State in the U.S.

According to reports in the Canadian press, the discoveries began in August 2007 when a man's foot was found on Jedediah Island, northeast of Nanaimo in British Columbia. Over the next five years they have turned up with occasional regularity on nearby beaches and always clad in a rubber soled shoe. Through painstaking work the forensic experts cross-checked the locations where the feet were found with missing person’s directories. Tide flows and data on where the shoes were manufactured. It appears most of the victims jumped from a bridge over the Fraser River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver.

Pranksters have also made the investigation more difficult. In 2008 they planted a hoax ‘foot’ on Vancouver Island which renewed interest in the case.

More information
Why are severed feet washing up in Pacific North-west? Newsday BBC World Service

Reviewed 18/02/2016

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