Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ninth Severed Foot Washes Ashore

Since 2007, a total of nine severed human feet have washed ashore on the islands and beaches between Washington State and Vancouver, British Columbia. The ninth was discovered August 27, 2010 on Whidby Island in Washington.

The foot, which seems to be that of a female or child, was discovered around mid-morning by a tourist strolling the beach. Officials who examined the unshod foot estimate by its decomposition that it had been in the water for less than two months. As yet, no missing persons cases match the facts known thus far.

All the others found along the coast were clad in running shoes. This is the first foot found bare.

These events began on August 20, 2007 when a man's right foot was discovered ashore on Jedediah Island. On August 26, another foot was discovered on Gabriola Island. Later it was learned the foot belonged to a deceased man whose name had been withheld by the police. On February 8, 2008, a third foot - another right - was discovered on Valdes Island. The fourth turned up on Kirkland Island May 22, 2008. This was the first female foot found. On June 16, 2008, at the mouth of the Fraser River on Westham Island, a man's left foot was discovered. DNA from this one matched the one from Valdes Island. The man's identity remains a mystery. The sixth turned up near Port Angeles, Washington (US) on August 1, 2008. On a beach near the Fraser River in Richmond, the seventh was discovered November 11. It was a woman's left foot and its DNA matched that of the fourth, which had been found on Kirkland Island. Officials were able to identify this woman. The eighth turned up in Richmond on October 27, 2009 - another man's right foot.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police believe these appendages became dislodged through natural processes affecting individuals who had drowned in the water. Both US and Canadian authorities are investigating this latest case, hoping to identify the victim. DNA tests will be conducted to aid in that effort.
The following excerpt is from a Wikipedia article on the subject:
Finding human remains on a beach is not uncommon. Storms may erode old burial sites and wash the debris out to sea where it is subsequently found, although this in particular would mainly reveal bones. In addition, missing people are common, and people fall off vessels at sea on occasion. Decomposition may separate the foot from the body because the ankle is relatively weak, and the buoyancy caused by air either inside or trapped within a shoe would allow it to float away.[2] According to SFU entomologist Gail Anderson, extremities such as the hands, feet, and head often detach as a body decomposes in the water, although they rarely float.[4]

However, finding feet and not the rest of the bodies has been deemed unusual. Finding two feet has been given a "million to one odds" and has thus been described as "an anomaly".[2] The finding of the third foot made it the first time three such discoveries had been made so close to each other.[4] The fourth discovery caused speculation about human interference and, statistically, was called "curious".[24]

This same article goes on to say that " is possible that the bodies could have been weighted down and disposed of, and the feet are separating due to natural decay."

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