Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Five feet of pure mystery in Vancouver


Sixth foot a 'reprehensible' hoax: B.C. coroner

A sixth foot believed to have washed ashore on Vancouver Island was not human, although it was found inside a sock and running shoe, according to the B.C. Coroners Service.

"A forensic pathologist and an anthropologist have examined the shoe and remains, and determined a skeletonised animal paw was inserted into the shoe with a sock and packed with dried seaweed," BCCS said in a statement Thursday.

Five feet have been discovered over the last six months in the Islands Georgia Strait off Vancouver. The story, which I’ve followed but not blogged here, tickles me for a number of reasons. First is the pure mystery and the various elements of evidence slowly surfacing; the second is some of the inane reporting, either attempts at creating a more sensational story or just the fun of wordplay.

Let’s get the wordplay out of the way first. I had my fun on Ragebot - Five foot nothing in Vancouver It has also been described as a ‘podiatric speculationfest’; gotta love that one. A “disarticulated human foot is cute.” Hold back evidence” is term that has surfaced here to describe the information investigators do not release for various reasons. “Severed Feet Plague Canadian Beaches;” one way of putting it…Jaunted describes itself as “The Pop Culture Travel Guide”

To the mystery

First up is the speculation as to where four right feet and one left foot, all in sneakers and socks, might come from. Well we’ll hang on a bit before we get to the various theories, first we need to look at the bits of evidence leaking through from investigators.

The feet were discovered on Gulf Islands beaches: Jedediah Island (Aug. 20), Gabriola Island (Aug. 26) and Valdes Island (Feb. 8), Kirkland Island, near the Massey Tunnel, on May 22, and the latest on (June 16) on Westham Island in Ladner, south of Vancouver at the mouth of the Fraser River.

The supposed facts emerging

  • All five of the feet had been submerged in water all in socks and men's sneakers
  • All apparently separated from the bodies naturally by decomposition
  • The footwear in which all five feet were found saved them from further disintegration.
  • All the feet, according to one report, are of similar shape, but then we don’t see many feet not shaped like feet
  • The first four were right feet, the fifth a left foot. Apparently the left foot does not match the previously found right feet.
  • Police refused to comment on the possible sex of the victims belonging to the feet
  • The feet have been found within about 95 kilometres of each other
  • The first two found were size 12
  • The feet could have drifted down the Fraser River, from any number of communities and tributaries in the B.C. interior.
  • On the other hand they might have drifted on sea currents into the Strait of Georgia, which separates the B.C. mainland from Vancouver Island.
  • The third was found inside a man's Reebok sneaker on Gabriola Island.

The speculation

Some believe the feet belong to victims of a float plane crash in 2005. Others say they may be those of suicide victims or fishermen gone overboard. Still others fear they are the dumped remains of biker gang murders, even though there is no evidence the feet were sawed off. Another popular suggestion is that they are Tsunami victims.

I was all for the tsunami theory until the report of one sneaker less than two years old. I’ll just keep watching, and maybe add to the list of reported ‘facts’. As long as I don’t have to hang around the Vancouver forensic scientist charged with boiling down the feet to extract usable DNA.


D.K. Raed said...

I'd seen the fluff piece about this on TV news, but you really FLESHED it out!

Now if they were all truly separated by natural decomposition, that lets out some murderous foot fetish freak. And yes, perhaps the bodies decomposed, but the plastics & chemicals that make up sneakers are indestructible, no matter what's inside them. I might suggest that material be used for caskets, except I'm a big believer in cremation. I also believe the tide that ends up in Vancouver area comes down from Alaska? We need to investigate up there to check out any new rash of amputees.

All I know is if severed feet started showing up inland, like Las Vegas for instance, there would be strong MOB implications.

Cart said...

TY for the FLESH :( But for the rest, I haven't introduced this bit yet - too many local dramas.
Susan Allen, an associate professor from the University of B.C.'s Earth and Ocean Sciences department, specializes in the marine ecosystem in the Strait of Georgia. All of the feet have been located in or near the strait.
It's nearly impossible to pinpoint where these feet may have originated – the strait is a cauldron of fickle currents. “There is nothing simple in the Strait of Georgia,” she said. “The currents change with the wind. I can't tell you what is upstream.”
But it is probable they are, she said, a “local problem.” They likely began their journey either in the strait or in one of the rivers that feeds into it. (In the case of the two feet that washed up at the mouth of the Fraser River, the math is simpler because nothing flows up that river.)

D.K. Raed said...

well that let's out the Alaska connection. I simply don't believe the suicide or fishing accident posits. Too many of the same thing for suicides (and besides, aren't Canadians HAPPY people?). And fishing accidents would be reported & body parts searched & watched for. And regardless of how popular running shoes are, I think that's also too big a coincidence. The DNA might be matched to missing persons but still won't show HOW or WHY.

I've got a very evil imagination picturing dark jogging trails with a sicko stalker lurking in the bushes. Now as to why the feet are well preserved, beyond the encased-in-running-shoes idea, I've got another theory involving formeldyhyde & refigerators, but that is too Jeffrey Dahmer-ish, even for a Stephen King scenario.

Sorry, I guess I'm taking this more seriously than you intended.

abi said...

I believe this is the work of a necrophiliac with a foot fetish.

D.K. Raed said...

Abi, if that's the case, at least the feet were already dead. Not quite so horrific.

Cart said...

I dunno, the neck bone's connected to the shoulder bone... Oooops, that isn't necrophilia.
I've had another idea put to me that those whose business it is to quietly dispatch bodies might need to do some visible marketing occasionally.
The feet certainly seems to derive from the Fraser River, and one would expect a few nefarious goings on along its course.

D.K. Raed said...

Sorry Cart, I can't figure out what severed feet would mean. In the mob underworld, a severed tongue means a snitch, a severed hand means an embezzler, a severed (male body part) means a man that had an affair with your wife ... etc. So ... what would a severed foot mean to the mob?

Cart said...

DK. No hidden meaning really. But a foot in a sneaker might just be preserved longer than more exposed body pars and the sneakers float. I’m just suggesting it could be an underworld advertising gimmick.
On the other hand one notorious ‘magician’ (disappears people) her in Aust some years ago liked to dump people at sea with a cast iron cooker tied to a leg. Apparently the idea was to let the victim think about why they were dying – though that one escapes me. Anyway, the rope around the ankle would assist in severing the foot.
Just wild speculation. But I doubt if I have any reasonable insight into the criminal mind.

D.K. Raed said...

hmmmm, yes, something heavy attached to the ankle would do the job, alright! A different take on the "cement shoes" mob favorite. But, once again, why were they all wearing running shoes?

BTW, isn't it just the 6th foot that is a hoax? The other 5 are still human, aren't they?

Cart said...

The sixth foot was a hoax, I added that at the top of the post, but you won’t have seen that. The rest are human.
There is a suggestion now that they are all part of an elaborate hoax. The idea is that a person/people in the cadaver scene, mortuary or whatever, could be playing silly buggers.
Seems as likely as any other scenario; as someone pointed out, this is one of the few real mysteries with endless scenarios. I was just reading one of the family members of the plane crashed in 2005 mentioned throughout this. She said how it was a constant painful reminder that they don’t have closure. If it is a joke I wouldn’t like to be one of the jokesters…

D.K. Raed said...

so from now on, I guess the bereaved family & friends will have to open the casket all the way & inspect to see if both feet are still attached? Oh but that wouldn't preclude grave diggers after the fact. How many family members actually hang around to watch the complete burial? Not many, I'd wager.

And STILL that leaves cremation antics. A quick chop right before shoving into the fire.

Nope, I'm just not buying the hoax idea. Not five feet worth anyway.

Cart said...

When you see the tourism boost from foot hunters...
Nah, that was a crude suggestion. I don't know DK, but the hoax idea is as likely as any for now.