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. Not Running In Canada

    Do any of the shoes match? Are any perhaps a left and right foot from the same person?

    September 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • John K

      From the linked report: "Four have been identified as belonging to three people...Another two belong to an unknown woman."

      So, 11 feet from a total of 9 different people.

      September 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • krs

      here is a great link that explains the feet:
      Apparently they bodies have been decomposing a while (the shoes are all manufacture years before the feet were discovered) underwater and they just detach and the shoe makes them float. I know some people wear their shoes for many years but in order for a foot to fall off naturally to decay the body has to be dead a while. I'd be way more skeptical if the shoes were recently manufactured.

      September 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rich

    Whovever is doing this has no soul.

    September 1, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nike

      or sole even

      September 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adidas

      I'm with Nike on this one.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. heston2012

    Hey CNN how about some facts ah like nationality or gender or method of separation from torso or length of time in water or make of shoe. You know facts the kind journalist are suppose to provide!!!

    September 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • akababysitter

      Feet arent attached to the torso....

      September 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poor taste

      Only if you are a thalidamide baby.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chris R

    You have to look at a few factors. First, all of the shoes were running shoes. This makes sense – running shoes float very well. Boots, leather shoes, and so forth do not float. They sink. Second, you have to realize that very rarely are these 'fresh' feet they are finding. Most of the time they are skeletal remains and only from the ankle down. Third, you have to understand what the currents are like in that area. Basically, anything that goes in the water around there has a good chance of washing up in that inlet. So what is going on? Someone falls into the water – either accidentally, suicide, or foul play. Their body sinks to the bottom and decomposes. The tendons holding the ankles to the shin deteriorates and eventually separates. The skeletal remains of the feet – inside of the buoyant running shoes floats to the surface and currents bring it to that inlet. It's not a huge mystery.

    September 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • GoldenGate

      Its not a bad theory, but if the ankle tendons and joints are gone, why aren't the foot tendons? The foot has over 200 bones in it. Once the those bones start coming apart, I don't think the foot would stay in the shoe long.

      September 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • cc

      There are only 26 bones in the human foot, not 200. The body has a total of 206 bones.

      Consider that the remainder of the foot is reasonably well protected from the environment compared to the rest of the body. It would be better protected from scavengers and other factors (currents, water temperature, etc). Like Chris said, its likely that the feet are fresh and because the shoe has protected the foot, the tendons and flesh of the foot would experience slowed decomposition.

      September 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • SSampson

      How about a SOCK – made from synthetics IN a shoe – they are 'elastic' by nature....and would essentially bag the foot parts below the ankle.... the ankle would slide out...

      I dunno – call me crazy....but perhaps TO DARN OBVIOUS for all of these junior detective CSI types who failed high school biology because they watched too much TV...

      Also – try a web search before you appear foolish – saves a bit of embarassment....

      September 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. solo traveler

    What does "no signs of trauma" actually mean in this case? That the feet weren't deliberately severed from the leg or bitten away by animals/fish? Does that mean they rotted off the body? Is that trauma? I mean, you have feet, foot bones in shoes, and the bones are obviously severed if you don't have legs along with. What is the nature and condition of the separation point?

    September 1, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RealityCheck

    Here's a pretty detailed wiki page on this:

    Trauma = removal by force, tools, etc. That is not the case here. the feet are becoming detached by way of decomposition in water. As for the source, the tsunami theory is plausible, and so is the issue with illegal migrant ships coming over from China. A few years ago, about a dozen rusty "snakehead ships" arrived in Vancouver full of hundreds of illegals. These ships were practically half-sunk by the time they entered Canadian waters. Would not be surprised if there are one or two out there which did not make the full journey, and the remains are making their way to the shores now. And to those who keep questioning the "all in the same place" angle... we're talking sites which are up and down a few hundred miles of BC & Washington coastline. It's hardly localized to one place.

    September 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. M.D., it's just the foot, no body...I'd say that classifies as trauma

    September 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WL

    Floating "feet"? Isn't Canada on the metric system?

    September 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MaxSatchel

    I wonder if the foot still had its "Toron-toe" nails!!! HAHAHA!! wooo! haha. sheesh..

    September 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • smr

      Toronto"e" is in Ontario, which isn't even close to B.C. What you posted may have been funny if it was in relation to British Columbia, where each foot is being found, not Ontario.

      September 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carmen

      As long as you think yourself funny, knock yourself out!

      September 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jacks

    I live in Vancouver (born and raised) and our coast is beautiful, but can be treacherous for people who are not careful. There are a lot of boats out on the water and many people have been lost at sea over the years, including people who take their own lives, so although it is strange as to how many feet in running shoes they've found, I'm not that surprized. Most of the time, the foot is so decomposed that it is difficult to determine, at first glance, what the nationality was and if the deceased has no DNA on file with police, it pretty much stays a mystery until all missing persons have been ruled out. More details and history:

    September 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shoe Fits

      I would think a family member would be able to identify the shoe. How long does DNA take? How many missing persons reports are there for the area? And why only Vancouver area? Why not waters in NY or Louisiana, Atlantic Canad or Mexico? Especially over the past decade. What brands of shoes? How many unrecoverd bodies are there from boating accidents? I think this could be Gang related or possibly serial killer. Several men and one woman so far. The poor "souls" that once walked in these shoes have not necessarily been reported missing..... likely because of their lifestye. There was a Ferrie that went down a few years ago did they recover all the bodies?

      September 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JohnB

    Where did they dump Osama bin Laden?

    September 1, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      Did Osama wear Reebok's? Sounds more like Russian mobsters. "CSI" says they luv the white Nikes and the track suits.

      September 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. detective

    to solve the myster/missing person, look at the shoe and determine the year it was made. from there determine if anyone is missing during/around that year. canandian police don't know what they are doing.

    September 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • FaykeKname

      You're serious? You don't think they've done that? And you think that alone would have solved the case by now?

      September 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • smr

      Believe me, the Canadian police know what they're doing. Objects can float thousands of miles in the ocean. Those feet could easily float from the US coastal area to our Canadian coast, so if a US citizen goes "missing" in, lets say, Seattle, I'm pretty sure a missing persons report won't be filed in Vancouver, BC. Also, I still wear shoes I bought two years ago and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person in the world to do that, so checking the maker/year of the shoe will not help that much.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nancy

    I thought I read at one time, something about an airplane occupied by a number of athletes going down in the region. That would explain the running/athletic shoes and the disarticulation of the feet if they happen to be dangling from bodies suspended by seat belts. Sound gorey but could be a theory.

    September 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shoe Fits

      I believe they landed on the side of the mountain near Chilliwack not on any shoreline. Gang members love their expensive running shoes and body building.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dallas Hottie

    Just in time for the release of the new Footloose movie!

    September 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Reader1

    Anyone ever read Practical Demon Keeping by Christopher Moore? Maybe not so fictional after all.

    September 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
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