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BC Severed Feet: Piecing Together a Decade-Long Mystery



  • Since 2007, 21 detached human feet enclosed in shoes have washed ashore along the Salish Sea spanning the U.S. and Canada border.

  • Scientific investigation attributes the phenomenon to natural marine decomposition, unique footwear buoyancy, and ocean currents.

  • Despite initial speculations of crime or foul play, investigations have ruled out any malevolent intent behind the appearances of these feet.


Since 2007, severed human feet have been discovered washed up on the shores of the Salish sea, a body of water straddling the U.S. and Canada border on the Pacific coast.


The initial discoveries sent shockwaves through communities in the region.


Imagine the scene: a girl stumbles upon a blue and white Adidas sneaker on Jedediah Island in BC. On closer inspection, she finds the shoe contains a decayed male right foot. Within a week, a second sneaker - a black and white Reebok - is discovered on Gabriola Island containing yet another decayed male right foot.


As the count increased, with five more severed feet found within the next year, the mystery deepens.


The total count? 21 feet have washed up to shore, leading many to speculate wildly about the origins. Initial suspicions ranged from aliens and the mafia to serial killers.


So, what's the truth?


BC Severed Feet: List Of Foot Discoveries

Date

Location

Details

Aug 20, 2007

Jedediah Island, B.C.

​Size 12 Adidas shoe contained a man's right foot separated due to decay.

Aug 26, 2007

​Gabriola Island, B.C.

​A decayed man's right foot, discovered by a couple, a size 12 white Reebok.

Feb 8, 2008

​Valdes Island, B.C.

​A right foot in a size 11 Nike, with the remains identified as a 21-year-old Surrey man whose death is considered "not suspicious."

May 22, 2008

​Kirkland Island, B.C.

A woman's right foot with a sock in a New Balance sneaker.

June 16, 2008

Westham Island, B.C.

A man's left foot was found by two hikers on June 16, floating in water in Delta.

Aug 1, 2008

​Pysht, WA

​A right foot inside a man's black size 11 shoe was discovered by a camper on a beach.

Nov 11, 2008

Richmond, B.C.

A known woman's left foot, in a shoe that was found floating in the Fraser River in Richmond.

Oct 27, 2009

​Richmond, B.C.

​A right foot in a size 8½ Nike running shoe on a beach in Richmond. The remains were identified as a Vancouver-area man who was reported missing in January 2008.

Aug 27, 2010

​Whidbey Island, WA

A woman's or child's right foot, without a shoe or sock.

Dec 5, 2010

Tacoma, WA

A right foot was inside a boy's size 6 'Ozark Trail' hiking boot.

Aug 30, 2011

​False Creek, B.C.

​The foot was located in a man's size 9 runner.

Nov 4, 2011

​Sasamat Lake, B.C.

​A man's right foot was inside a size 12 hiking boot.

Dec 10, 2011

​Lake Union, Seattle, WA

Human foot and leg bone found in a black plastic bag beneath the Ship Canal Bridge.

Jan 26, 2012

Vancouver, B.C.

Bones inside a boot were found in the sand near the Maritime Museum.


May 6, 2014

​Seattle, Washington

Human foot in white New Balance shoe found along the shoreline of Centennial Park.

Feb 7, 2016

​Vancouver Island, B.C.

Hikers on Botanical Beach came across a foot in a sock and running shoe.

​Feb 12, 2016

​Vancouver Island, B.C.

A foot washed up near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. B.C. Coroners Service said it matches one found there five days earlier.

Dec 8, 2017

​Vancouver Island, B.C.

​Remains of a leg with a shoe attached washed up near Vancouver Island.

May 6, 2018

Gabriola Island, B.C.

A man encountered a hiking boot, with a human foot inside, wedged in a logjam.


September, 2018

West Vancouver, B.C.

Foot inside a 9.5 light grey Nike Free RN shoe on the shore worn by a male wearing a blue sock.

January 1, 2019

Jetty Island, Everett, WA

Foot found in a boot, later tied via DNA to missing Antonio Neill.

The Mystery Of The BC Severed Feet

Why were feet washing ashore? Well - the case of the the severed feet mystery been solved. The reason sneakers kept getting found specifically was because of the buoyancy of the lightweight foam use to craft them.


And the reason it was feet? Fish, crustaceans and shrimp tend to eat away their favorite area - the area around the ankles.


As for a potential serial killer, the feet all belonged to people previously reported missing.


Parker MacCready, an oceanography professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, tells Deseret.com that the BC severed feet can be attributed to the tides, river flows, wind patterns and overall oceanic conditions.


The key factors were:

  1. DNA Revelations: The RCMP managed to link many of the feet to individuals previously reported missing who were suspected of accidental or self-inflicted fates. Notably, a foot from Jedediah Island was traced back to a missing man reported missing since 2004 due to depression. Another foot, found in 2011, belonged to a fisherman who had been missing since 1987.

  2. Foot Decomposition: A study by Simon Fraser University for the Canadian police delved into how bodies decomposed in marine environments. They discovered that ocean life such as fish, shrimp and crustaceans, could strip a corpse down to its skeletal remains in mere days. These creatures often favored softer tissues, such as the regions around the ankles.

  3. The Reason For The Sneakers: Modern sneakers kept floating up because they're crafted using lightweight foam, often housing air pockets in their soles. This composition makes them buoyant, allowing severed feet to float to the surface.


When Was The Last Foot Found in BC?

The last foot was found on January 19, 2019, at Jetty Island in Washington. The boot consisted of the remains later recognized as being from a missing man named Anthony Neill.


Coroners working on the case hope people will regularly visit the portal launched by BC designed to aid in identifying human remains. View the portal above.



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