Canadian floating feet mystery deepens
Police search the Vancouver inlet Tuesday where a severed foot was discovered.
September 1st, 2011
11:38 AM ET

Canadian floating feet mystery deepens

For the 11th time in the past four years, a human foot in a sport shoe was found on a Pacific Northwest shoreline.

Foot No. 11 was found Tuesday near a marina in an inlet called False Creek, police in Vancouver, British Columbia, said. Foul play was not suspected because there was no sign of trauma, coroner Stephen Fonseca said in a report from CNN affiliate CBC.

“These human remains did not show any evidence of trauma whatsoever,” CBC quoted Fonseca as saying.

DNA samples from foot No. 11 will be compared to DNA obtained from family members in missing persons cases to try to establish an identity, he said.

So who do the feet belong to and how did they meet their demise?

One foot, found in August 2007 on Jedediah Island, British Columbia, was identified as coming from a deceased man whose family did not want further details released, according to a report in the Vancouver Sun.

But the rest remain a mystery, according to a list in the Vancouver Sun.

Mark Mendelson, a Toronto forensics consultant and former police detective, said on the TV program "Canada AM" on Thursday that he's not buying that anything nefarious is, well, afoot.

"You have to think dirty," he said.

"I don't know if you can look at this as just a coincidence," he said, pointing out that he thinks there are too many questions that don't have logical answers.

"Why is it only happening on the west coast near Vancouver… why aren’t these feet floating up off Nova Scotia or St. John’s, Newfoundland, or off the coast of New Jersey," Mendelson asked.

And why only feet in running shoes?

Where are the rest of the body parts?

“Body parts do eventually make their way to the surface. So why are we only getting feet? Why are they in running shoes,” he asked.

Simon Fraser University forensics researcher Gail Anderson offers answers in a report on the website

“We have an awful lot of people missing in our waters, either from accidental cases or people who deliberately entered the water,” the website quotes Anderson as saying. “We’re talking four years and 11 feet. That’s really not that many at all.”

And if the shoe floats?

University of British Columbia materials engineering professor Anoush Poursartip tells vancouver.24hrs he has a theory on that.

“The polymers used in running shoes are chosen partially for their light weight. This means the shoe has significant buoyancy,” he told the website.

So the shoes are dragging the feet to the surface but leaving the rest of the body in the depths?

“I’m not sure I buy the theory it’s because the shoe floats,” Mendelson said in the "Canada AM" interview.

But one thing is certain, Mendelson said.

"Something is very, very strange here.”

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Filed under: Canada
soundoff (533 Responses)
  1. physics-lite

    "For the 11th time in the past four years, a human foot in a sport shoe was found."
    "Foul play was not suspected because there was no sign of trauma."
    A human foot being cut off is "NOT TRAUMA"

    September 1, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • anw

      I'm assuming it's because they don't see evidence that it was cut off. A skeleton can naturally disarticulate as it decomposes.

      September 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Footloose

      That's just what I was thinking!

      September 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • rowan

      no trauma???? lol the foot has been chopped, sawn, or sliced off the body to which it was attatched. how can that NOT be trauma?

      September 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      sounds like a bargain underwater burial service to me

      September 1, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael B

      My question is why there are dead people wearing running shoes.

      No one chooses to die with running shoes on. Say a cemetery was full and the funeral technician was dumping bodies in the water....why are they wearing running shoes?

      Maybe selling adolescent coffins to full sized people...but again...why the running shoes..they mean there is no trama because the foot either came off naturally over times (in the water as the body decays) or the limb was cut off post mortem.

      But I still don't get the sneakers thing.

      September 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Trauma

      Yes, if it was cut-off that would be trauma – where did you read it was cut-off? It naturally decayed away from the body, therefor, no trauma.

      September 1, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shirlock

      @Rowna – where did you read that is chopped from the body? How about it naturally decayed over time and separated from the body; therefor, no signs of trauma (chopping, hacking, sawing etc.)

      September 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kelli

    "For the 11th time in the past four years, a human foot in a sport shoe was found."

    "Foul play was not suspected because there was no sign of trauma."

    A human foot being cut off is "NOT TRAUMA"

    “We’re talking four years and 11 feet. That’s really not that many at all.”

    What? This all sounds so odd. Why are they trivializing this?

    September 1, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smartypants

      Yes Miss Forensics – where did you read that a foot was chopped or cut from the body? It naturally decayed from the rest of the body as it's not made of steel; therefor showing no sign of 'trauma'!

      September 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Marto

    It could be a mortician with a sick sense of humor. Better start checking on the area funeral parlors and such. John/Jane Does can have their limbs severed just before cremation or burial none would be the wiser.

    September 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. michaelfury

    "Something is very, very strange here.”

    September 1, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. driranek

    I'd suspect grave robbers with a exceptionally macabre sense of humor but who gets buried in running shoes? Did they put a running shoe on an exhumed foot? Are there traces of embalming?

    September 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DSmith

    For a second I thought this article was a goof, I swear this is the basis of an Episode of Fox's "Bones" I watched last night, no joke!

    September 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • butlerbulldawg74

      Some episodes of Bones have been loosely based on real cases.

      September 1, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bimbo the Birthday Clown

    AARRRGGGHHH!! I wasted all that time typing something and it didn't post. I'll try again.

    The general theory is something like this:

    The feet are not being cut off. They are becoming naturally disconnected from the bodies due to decomposition. Numerous people go missing every year on the ocean or shorline, due to accidents or suicides. It may be that the ocean currents are carrying these feet to the area of the Juan de Fuca Strait. In previous years, the feet of dead bodies would not float to the surface too often because the materials used in shoes would become waterlogged. More recently, the materials used are more likely to retain air pockets, even after months, and therefore float when the foot is freed from the body.

    September 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • ginn

      Don't be so rational Bimbo, people don't want to hear that, it's not as exciting!

      September 1, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • samiam1955

      Great answer, Bimbo. Why is it that the reporters who covered this story and the 'experts' they consulted were not able to come up with this very simple explanation?

      September 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

      Actually samiam1955, it is not my theory. Some experts have come up with this theory. Don't just depend on CNN, do a little more checking. A simple google search of "British Columbia foot" will point you to a few articles. You can start with the wikipedia Salish Sea article, but there are others.

      September 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I agree. I posted something similar but it did not get posted. Sneakers/running shoes also contain air bubbles and air cushions which assist with floatation. currents and such after bodies decompose will aid in teh floatation. We also need to realize that in the past 6 years we had 2 major Tsunamis in the Pacific ocean that swept thousands and thousands out to sea. we will be seeing strang things like this for years to come.

      September 1, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • svann

      Except that shoes do not retain air pockets. Running shoes are designed to allow air to circulate in and out.

      September 1, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leafonthewind

      Good point, Bimbo, but it makes me wonder: what are the odds against any of these feet matching up into a pair?

      September 1, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • heather

      people that commit suicide by drowning take off their shoes before going in the water. They also take off their glasses before they jump. It's one of those weird little things that leaves a tell tale sign of suicide so this is really weird. I can't believe that many people fall in the water with sneakers on, drowning swimmers would have them off. One is not buried with sneakers on....a serial killer with a sneaker and foot fetish?

      September 1, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. the Vancouver Tourism Bureau

    Come to Vancouver this year. Enjoy Beautiful Stanley Park. See the Olymic facilities. Enjoy our culture, our weather, the friendly people. Frolic on our beaches littered with decomposing feet.

    September 1, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sam

    "what's behind canada's foot mystery?"

    a heel?

    September 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Andre the Giant

    Probably a mentally ill undertaker cutting them off and tossing them in the ocean.

    September 1, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Troy McClure

      Andre the Giant, we hardly knew ye.

      September 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sam

    Friendly place to live this canada...

    September 1, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©

    Well, this is different...

    September 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. svann

    “The polymers used in running shoes are chosen partially for their light weight. This means the shoe has significant buoyancy,” he told the website.

    Shoes float? No I dont think they do.

    September 1, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

      I think Mythbusters needs to get on this. They'll settle it.

      September 1, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • dale

      try thinking! or throw your nikes in the tub and watch them float.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tracie

    I think further investigation will show that poo was somehow involved. Maybe check the stomach contents of the feet for poo residue? Or maybe the bottoms of the sneakers will reveal some brown sweetness? I'm hungry now, I have to go. Bye.

    September 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fernt

    this is how we do BOGO sales in Canada.

    September 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
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