Aug. 31, 2011— -- Another human foot has washed ashore in British Columbia, keeping investigators on their toes in the case of 11 mysterious feet in running shoes that have appeared on area beaches since 2007.
Eight feet have washed up around Vancouver and three feet have come ashore in nearby Washington state since 2007, according to Stephen Fonseca of the British Columbia Coroners Service. None of the cases have been deemed suspicious.
Fonseca said that human remains can come apart naturally in a water environment, and with the high amount of marine activity, beaches, and people involved in accidents in the water, it's likely that these are all unrelated cases. He also noted that there are many bridges over waterways in the area, and distraught people who may have jumped could also be a cause for the body parts washing up on shore.
"Running shoes of today are more buoyant," he said, "and it's a very rational explanation that when the feet do disarticulate, through marine scavenging and decomposition, the shoe will bring the foot back up to the surface and it will float there until it reaches shoreline."
The Mystery of Feet Washing Ashore in Northwest
The Coroners Service will try and build a profile of the person to whom the foot belonged through DNA testing as well as spatial and temporal profiles based on where and when the shoe arrived, how old the foot is, and when the running shoe was made, he said.
"When dealing with feet, we don't have the luxury of building up a very comprehensive profile, with blue eyes and blond hair. A 16-year-old could have the same size shoe as a 65 year old," he said.
Fonseca and other coroners would be going over the foot today to ensure that it was a human remain, and then would begin compiling information on what they called its "donor." The process could take weeks or months, at which time the data would be compared to missing persons lists, he said.
This foot was found in an inlet near False Creek, a protected body of water, he said, while other feet were found on beaches and nearby islands. He hoped the location of this foot would be helpful to determining its origin.
The investigators are still working to identify the donors of other feet, including a female who had two feet wash up on shore, and a male who had one foot wash up on shore.