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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soundoff (533 Responses)
  1. Jacob

    I am pretty sure that if a foot is separated from the rest of the body, there's some evidence of friggin trauma right there.

    September 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      Not necessarily.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob U

      You took the words right out of my mouth.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fenris

      By "no evidence of trauma" I think they mean the bones don't look chewed off or chopped off. If someone drowns and isn't discovered, the body could rot and fall apart. When just the foot is found, you have no evidence of trauma (of course drowning would be "trauma" but no lungs or heart to see that evidence). If the foot had been cut off with an or by a boat propeller, that would be trauma they could see.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      A body can degrade naturally in the water from animals and such. Then the foot can become detached and float to the surface. Therefore, there would not be any evidence of of trauma.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fenris

      Sorry – typo. Was trying to say if the foot had been chopped or "with an axe or by a boat propeller"

      September 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • ryan

      By no evidence of trauma I'm assuming the foot was cut off post death. Seems pretty straight-forward unless your trying to be a smartass over the internet.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      Exactly Fenris. I am chuckling about people saying "how is a severed foot not trauma?" when nothing in this article said anything about the feet being severed.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      trauma to the persons brain who thinks that. grats on understanding how a body decays..... and how the human body is kept together..... FYI your feet and hands arent connected by rebar so when the cement decays away they fall off.... go back to biology cuz u failed the class horribly

      September 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      MIght be tough for the sea life to eat the feet in the sneekers. The eat the rest of the body, leaving the feet in the sneekers, which float to the surface.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amerikid

      I have to agree with that. No foul play?? Excuse me? You've only got a foot!! That makes no sense to me that there is no trauma or foul play suspected. Was the foot "cut off", or were they just bones floating in a shoe? Either way, I still would think there would be some sort of thought about foul play. Talk about weird. These police spokespersons are weird.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      Ryan- Wrong. If there were evidence that it was cut off at all that would be considered trauma. Where are people getting the idea that these are severed feet? A body that goes into the water will come apart eventually over the years without displaying any signs of trauma to certain part.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba Bo Bob

      Are Americans just this absolutely stupid? It means the foot wasn't cut off. Man just reading these replies is giving me a headache.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flip-Flop People!

      @bspurloc – LOL!

      September 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Thackerie

    Students at a medical school playing pranks with lab cadavers? That's my theory and I'm sticking with it (well, at least until something better floats by).

    September 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • debbie

      Not a bad theory on the surface, but I would think there'd be traces of formaldehyde in the feet. All cadavers for med schools are pickled.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      I'm pickled. Or would like to be.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dave johnsen

    could they be from the Indonesian Tsunami in 2004?

    September 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Russell

      My thoughts exactly Dave.....thousands were washed away during that event.....Vancouver is technically on the same body of water..... the rest of these people for whom these feet were attached may of became fish food...but the buoyancy and protection from being eaten that the shoe provided would allow these feet to make their way across the ocean...

      September 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TheBossSaid

    College initiation requirements into some society: dig up a corpse from some grave, cut off a foot and throw it in the ocean wearing sneakers.

    September 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mr pancakes

    In the late 1800s, it was not uncommon for human smuggling operations to force their passengers overboard to drown before reaching their destination (after collecting their fee, of course). A ficticious account of a similar operation in the Caribbean is described in Hemingways' "To Have and Have-Not"

    September 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. no

    No sign of trauma??? The foot was somehow detached from the body. That sounds like trauma to me!!!

    September 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Not The Same Dave

    Dave seriously think a bunch of feet (and only feet) dressed in running shows were washed from the south Pacific to the north Pacific over a seven year period? And didn't decompose during that time?


    September 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Shoe Fits

    When someone goes "missing" be it a boating accident, suicide attempt from a bridge etc. those bodies are looked for extensively. The people that were once walking around in these shoes went missing but nobody paid attention because of their lifestyle.. The family that does not want to be identified was it because their loved one had a Gang affiliation? Like I said a family member longing for a missing loved one would be desperate to get a look at those shoes and it should not take long to identify who they are. Why is no one "looking" for these people? Gang killings, immigrant boat disaster... that is more likely.

    September 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JohnnyJett & The Dirty Socks

    If the guy was deceased maybe the funeral home is "cutting costs" no pun intended on the size of the caskets, maybe the guy was too tall?

    September 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |

    MY thoughts are that it's a funeral home worker cutting off the feet of the deceased. Think about it, when you go to view your loved ones, do you ever check to see if their feet are still attached to their body?

    September 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shoe Fits

      Pretty tricky to cut through the cartilage without nicking the bone with the blade.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. no

    The answer to this is that some sick person is killing people and trying to freak us out by doing this. That's the only thing that makes sense.

    September 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shirlock

      Send your application into the Forensics Team ASAP!

      September 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rozelle

    Just because there's no trauma in the surviving foot doesn't mean that something else on the body didn't suffer trauma, whether it was accidental or intentional.

    September 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      Thank you Miss OBVIOUS.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Danno G

    I live in Van and it is a mystery,,,,,,,, Is there a song called the Hokey Pokey? or a movie called My Left Foot?

    September 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bigp0wer

    Check out funeral homes in 50 mile radius. I'm sure you'll find your nut in that huge goodie bag.

    September 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Shoe Fits

    Make, model, age and costs of these shoes would be a great lead. Immigrant boat would not likely have super expensive running shoes. Is there such a thing as knock off runners? Probably? Hopefully the police are looking into this. One of the biggest problems in solving these crimes is there are far too many police jursditions involved. This is why the Pig Farmer serial killer was able to get away with it for so long and add a national boarder to this and it gets even more convoluted. I have not read that there is a "task force" in Canada working with US officials to solve this.

    September 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
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