Washed Up Severed Feet a Mystery for Canadian, U.S. Authorities

PHOTO The RCMP and BC Coroners Service are investigating the remains of a right foot found on Oct. 27, 2009 on the beach at No. 6 Road and Triangle Road in Richmond,

Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest there are several bodies missing their feet.

Yet another sneaker-clad foot has washed ashore in British Columbia -- the eighth foot in two years, stumping authorities in both Canada and the United States.

Seven of the feet, including the most recent foot, have been found in the waters of British Columbia. The other foot found off the coast of Port Angeles, Wash.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Annie Linteau told ABCNews.com today that on all of the feet there is "no evidence of being severed or artificially removed."

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While Canadian authorities seem to be leaning toward decomposition as the reason the feet were detached from the bodies -- which have never been found -- noted forensic pathologist and Kentucky state medical examiner Dr. Greg Davis said he thinks otherwise.

"I don't think this is an artifact of decomposition," he said. "I have never heard of feet just popping off."

Davis, who has not examined any of the feet but has followed the case with interest, said he has a friend who is an emergency room doctor in Vancouver and said people in the area are "a little more than freaked out."

"To me, it's foul play until proven otherwise," he said. "This is just too strange."

Linteau said they are not ruling anything out, including foul play.

"We can never be 100 percent sure," the officer said. "At this point the're no indication that there's foul play involved."

So far only two pairs of feet have been matched, Linteau said. A size 11 male right foot found on Valdez Island on Feb. 8, 2008 was matched with a left foot found on Westham Island on June 16 of that year.

A size 7 right female foot found May 22, 2008 on Kirland Island was matched with a left foot found Nov. 11, 2008 in Richmond, B.C.

Severed Feet the Work of a Killer or Just a Coincidence?

Only one foot, the first one found on Aug. 20, 2007, has been matched to an actual person. Linteau said that a right foot was determined to have belonged to a missing man from the lower mainland of Vancouver.

The RCMP was not releasing any other information on the man, Linteau said, only that "he was last seen to be emotionally disturbed."

In all cases, except the matching pairs, all of the feet were right feet. All but the female matching pair were male, though the medical examiner has yet to release the gender of the foot found this week. All were also found in sneakers.

The most recent foot was found in a size 8.5 Nike.

Linteau said it was unclear how long the feet had been in the water by the time they washed ashore because water temperature and sea creatures could have affected natural decomposition.

The sneakers, she said, also provide a "unique environment" that could protect the foot from the elements and possibly cause the foot to bob to the surface.

But Davis said that if a whole body is left in the water, gases inside the abdomen would eventually cause the entire corpse to float to the surface, not just a foot. Even if the skin has sloughed off, the bones of the legs and feet would still be attached unless an animal has gnawed them apart.

While there may be a benign reason for the severed feet, he said, "I'm just not able to come up with it."

If this was such a common phenomenon in decomposing bodies as to happen eight times in one location, "Why would that not happen anywhere else in the world?" Davis asked.

Davis said likely causes for the feet could be the work of a serial killer who is dumping the feet as a sort of trademark or possibly a funeral director who is dumping body parts into the ocean instead of disposing of them properly.

But even in that case, he said, "The foot just doesn't drop off and that wouldn't be the only thing that washed to shore."

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