Beached feet mystery unique to B.C.
Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, June 20, 2008
The mysterious story of feet washing ashore along B.C.’s south coast has captured the fascination of people around the world — likely because the mystery doesn’t appear to be happening anywhere else.
“I think our experience of cases like this is pretty much nil,” said former Vancouver police geographic profiler Kim Rossmo, now a Texas State University professor.
“On one international listserve I’m on, no one seems to have ever heard of something like this.”
Five feet clad in running shoes have been found on islands in the Georgia Strait and the mouth of the Fraser River over the past 10 months.
Police and the coroner say there is no evidence yet that the feet are connected in any way, or that any foul play was involved.
But Rossmo argues five feet makes things pretty suspicious.
“I think we’re way beyond the coincidence level, but the question is whether it is foul play? Is it a serial killer? Is it a joke? Is it from an accident?”
Rossmo, whose expertise is pinpointing where a suspect lives or operates based on the location of crimes, said it would be challenging to determine where these bodies originated due to variables such as ocean currents, temperatures, and when they entered the water.
The story has all the twists and turns of a crime-scene thriller.
No one knows that better than Jay Clarke, a Vancouver lawyer who is also a successful novelist who goes by the pen name Michael Slade.
If the theory is that feet are surfacing now because running shoes are more buoyant, he asks why that phenomenon isn’t happening in other parts of the world.
And if this is merely the work of a prankster, where are the feet coming from?
“Surely there’s a pretty tight record of cadavers in medical school and bodies in funeral homes?” asked Slade, whose 2001 novel Death’s Door is about mutilated bodies found on the shores of B.C. islands.
“Am I saying that there is a serial killer on the loose? I certainly can’t go that far. But you can bet that it is one of the cards that must be put down on the table.”
But RCMP Const. Annie Linteau said the province’s specialized homicide squad, IHIT, is not investigating the feet.
“We don’t know what it is we’re dealing with. Until these remains are identified we don’t know if we’re dealing with a suicide or someone who fell in the water or foul play,” she said.
None of the five feet has so far been identified by DNA.
The RCMP has refused to release photos of the shoes, or information about their make or size, which could help people identify missing loved ones.
Police are, however, asking the public to call CrimeStoppers if they have any tips.
The five feet were found on Jedediah Island (Aug. 20), Gabriola Island (Aug. 26), Valdes Island (Feb. 8), Kirkland Island (May 22) and Westham Island (June 16).
The bizarre story has made headlines around the world and generated multiple theories about where the feet came from.