June 19th, 2008
12:58 PM ET

Six severed feet wash ashore... What's going on?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/CRIME/06/19/canada.feet/art.foot.jpg caption ="An investigator places the shoe and severed foot found on a Canadian beach on Wednesday inside of a container."]

Program Note: Watch Randi Kaye's full report on Anderson Cooper 360°, tonight 10p ET.

Randi Kaye
AC360° Correspondent

UPDATE: 4:10p ET
(CNN) - What was believed to be the sixth human foot to wash up on the shores of British Columbia in recent months was a fake, authorities said Friday. The British Columbia Coroners Service confirmed that the remains found in a shoe on Thursday were a "skeletonised animal paw" that was put in the shoe with a sock and packed with dried seaweed.

This goes down as one of the most bizarre stories I have ever been asked to report.

It's a mystery that began nearly a year ago, when a random foot was discovered on the shores of Canada. Soon, more followed.

Now, six feet in all have been discovered. All of them in the waters of the Georgia Strait area between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland.

The first two feet washed up in August 2007, one on Gabriola Island, the other on Jedidiah Island. Then in February another foot appeared on Valdes Island.

On Wednesday this week, the sixth human foot dressed in a running shoe was found.

It was discovered on a beach in Vancouver Island by a woman who was walking on the beach. The foot was still wearing a size 10 black adidas running shoe.

By now you're probably wondering, what the heck is going on?

Well you'll get the full report on Anderson Cooper 360 tonight, but here's what we know: Five of the feet found are right feet, including the one picked up this week. One of the feet discovered is a left foot, compounding the mystery.

Officials don't suspect foul play because it doesn't appear any of the feet were severed.

Investigators have far too many theories to list here but one of the more interesting ones is the feet may belong to victims of a plane crash. A plane, carrying four men, went down in 2005. Some of the bodies are still missing.

Dr. Gail Anderson, of the Simon Fraser University Centre for Forensic Research, says it's possible the feet belong to the missing bodies.

She told a local newspaper, "Perhaps a plane going down, a boat going down, where a number of deaths have occurred [could be the origin], perhaps something has happened. The tide has shifted, another boat has hit it, something has happened to move it."

Relatives of the victims have spent the past three years trying to find their remains, navigating a complex system of channels and currents and calculating where the tides may have taken the bodies.

The B.C. Coroner's Service has asked family members of the plane crash victims to provide further DNA samples to see if there's a match between their samples and DNA taken from three of the feet.

I'm wondering how far a severed limb can travel in the water? And why are just feet turning up? Also, if they're found still wearing socks and sneakers, has that helped preserve them and the DNA?

So many questions. We're going to get to the bottom of this mystery but if you have any ideas on where these feet may be coming from, I'd love to hear them.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Randi Kaye
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Sean Smith

    I live in Campbell River and I find it kind of sad that the only way this beautiful community will be recognized for the next while is for being the place the some moron decided that adding a fake foot to the floating foot mystery would be funny.

    As for the theories, I will throw this one out there. Human trafficers making a point to those on a voyage. A rope or a chain tied to a block and the body thrown overboard. The body sits on the bottom for a while, the ocean and sealife take their toll, the foot and leg seperate, the rope or chain falls away and the foot is caught by the current, made bouyant by the shoe.

    Who knows. The west coast of BC is the end of the line for a lot of powerful currents. You should see the whirlpools created around here just by our tides.

    Don't hold this hoax against Campbell River, folks. Even paradise has its idiots.

    June 20, 2008 at 12:33 am |
  2. Mic

    I'm from the small town of Ladner in which Westham Island is located and I happen to know the people who found the 5th foot and they said it seemed as if there was no cut at all to it as if it just became dismembered due to decomposing so it makes one wonder if according to the threory that the foot can float up to 1000 miles in a shoe it is from the plane crash that took place up in Campbell River...

    June 19, 2008 at 11:28 pm |
  3. amadeusmax

    IT's obvisouly the work of some type of murder,er probably from a serial killer. IF they all came from one single plane, why mostly left feet? Why only feet? If you take a look at lake currents one should be able to see where the feet came from. Unfortunately this looks like the work of some derranged killer. Maybe the police need to be looking for bodies that were missing both feet, legs altogether. Or simply the missing. Because I would like to know the bizzare plane crash scenario that would only allow mostly left feet to be found after an accident. I don't mean to sound sick, but can't you tell if the feet were decomposed at the same length of time?

    But whats even more sickening is that now people are making a joke out of this by placing fake feet in the water.

    June 19, 2008 at 8:56 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    I love all the theories advanced in the comments – particularly the one about the feet being from people who died in the Tsunami. That was a while back now but maybe its possible the feet could have lasted this long. Whatever the cause is, finding unattached feet on the beach gives a whole new slant to beach combing
    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 19, 2008 at 8:52 pm |
  5. Lily of Vancouver

    I'm also from Vancouver and never heard of a serial killer with a serious foot fetish. It is highly possible that the feet come from missing people, be it from a boat or plane and of course, there are many homeless who disappear all the time. Anyway, if someone chopped off your feet because you forgot to pay for that pound of coke, you would need to go to a hospital and eventually be fitted for prostheses. That kills the therory of footless people. They'll figure it out. Someone ought to call Grissom and Willows and the mystery will be solved in 24 minutes (sans commercials). Still strange that the feet are in runners and mostly right feet. Sure is creepy.

    June 19, 2008 at 8:00 pm |
  6. Oreste Matellini , Toronto-ON.

    Now I read last "foot found" was an "animal paw"????? This is just macabre-surrealism and I KNOW sooner or later a movie or documentary is going to come out about this story.......I still stick to my "theory" of some sick jokester removing feet from unclaimed bodies in some morgue.... Just watched actually some documentary about what happens to unclaimed bodies in Los Angeles and apparently they are "stored" for ages til eventually they are cremated and buried in mass graves.... Who would know if someone is taking bits or their limbs away?? This story is just freaky yet with a touch of macabre humour thrown in...

    June 19, 2008 at 6:21 pm |
  7. Norm Bush

    I think that Stacy's post above is spot on. But would you respect the opinion of a guy with the last name of Bush LOL (for the record no relation , born and bread Canuk here)

    June 19, 2008 at 5:57 pm |
  8. Keith

    Perhaps it is a Viral Ad campaign for Dexter Season 3...

    June 19, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  9. Sammy

    Seems the 6th foot is a hoax.. an animal claw in a sock, stuffed into a shoe and packed with seaweed. kind of sick if you ask me.
    So we're back to 5 feet, 4 right and 1 left. all in shoes. Seawater critters and bacteria are making DNA testing difficult. could take months to solve. When muscle and tendons decay, its pretty easy for a foot to "fall off" at the ankle.. especially if it has the extra weight of a shoe. The shoe is what is making the foot float and find its way to the beaches. Unlikely that this is Tsunami related given tidal currents. This is something local.

    June 19, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  10. Amanda, Alberta CA

    Stacy McCurdy, I'm impressed and intrigued by your theory. I never would've thought of that but it certainly makes alot of sense to me.

    I have been following this for a while as well and as I understand it from news reports in Canada, they have DNA off three of the feet and DNA from some of the plane crash victims, which leads me to believe that the feet came from somewhere else. I would think that if the DNA matched the plane crash victims then it would be reported.

    Of course whoever planted the fake sixth foot they should be ashamed of their actions.

    June 19, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  11. Alain Troi

    I think that what we are looking at here are remnants of the Tsunami and other disasters in Asia that have made there way to the North American shores. In the Queen Charlotte Islands there are certain marine animals that are not indigenous to the area showing up every so often because of the ocean currents. As well, the foam and structure of modern shoes make a foot boyant and would thus allow it to float away. What the RCMP should release is the ethnic background determined from the DNA and the sex of the person who once wore the shoe and the time that decomposition has taken place. I read that a shark was caught off the coastof Madagascar (tiger shark) that had several arms and legs of humans in it's stomach. It was later determined that the human parts were from the Tsunami victims that were washed out to sea. Sharks and currents can and do move around more than what we think.
    Atleast that is what I think.......

    June 19, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  12. Stacy McCurdy

    I believe that the shoes/feet belong to tsunami and/or typhoon victims that have been washed out to sea. The rest of the bodies have long since be devoured, but the foot is being preserved and protected from fish by the shoe. The shoes float, thereby traveling along the sea currents (and being pushed by storms, etc.) and are now washing up along the coast and inlets of Canada. If bottles thrown in the ocean can travel halfway around the world, so can shoes. That's my theory...

    June 19, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  13. Toni Clark

    I think it's a serial killer or from drug dealers, they do freakish things, tied up a girl in this area and set her on fire, she managed to get (burn) loose and walked to help, still smoking.

    June 19, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  14. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hi Randi~
    That is bizarre! What kind of sick person is doing this?
    Well, you always find the most interesting stories!
    I look forward to hearing how this severed foot mystery unfolds.. . I think~

    June 19, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  15. Tabby

    I live on the BC coast (Lower Mainland) and according to the news here, I believe all the feet that were found had shoes (runners) on. If these feet were part of the people who died in the plane crash, I don't think your shoe would stay on on impact. Even people getting hit by a car, their shoes tend to fly off, so I don't believe the theory that the feet are the remains of the plane crash victims, just my opinion. Also, the witness that did find the last foot in Campbell River did say that the the cut was a clean cut 3 to 4 inches above the ankle. They are all men's feet except for one.

    There are theories flying around that these feet could be part of the missing men that have been disappearing the last few years in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland – disappearing without a trace!

    I do find it strange only feet are showing up and I am sure that the police know more than they are saying, which is understandable.

    It is very unsettling.

    June 19, 2008 at 3:32 pm |
  16. jacey

    I've secretly wanted to see the theories devolve to Canadian piranhas.

    June 19, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  17. Gary Chandler in Canada

    From this desk, I can see Gabriola Island, where one of the feet was found.
    As I said above, and Oreste Matellini, reiterated in the next Post, there is only one explanation.
    I just phoned the Gabriola RCMP detachment to suggest they interview all the newest and employees of crematoriums and mortuaries, especially ones that have a boat. I also suggested showing pictures of the footwear to all the owners of these businesses. There is NO way these feet could be 'washing up'. Somebody is planting them, and who has access to body parts!?

    June 19, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  18. John Victoria

    Why are we so nieve.

    I'll go out on a limb:

    Five right feet show up from a plane crash some years ago with four passengers aboard?

    The limbs are not severed but are mearly falling off?

    Nobody is claiming any feet?

    Tides move right feet in different directions than left feet?

    Some two years later feet with running shoes finally wash ashore here only?

    Salt water either preserves or destroys flesh?
    These reasons escape imagination. How about,

    MS 13 is working in Vancouver.

    June 19, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  19. Lilibeth

    Anything is possible. I can only imagine how unsettling this would be for those who live in the area. I hope they get to the bottom of this soon.

    June 19, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  20. twyla landry hawaii

    I still think it is strange that only feet are washing up.....does the shoe on the right foot match any of the shoes on left feet that have washed ashore???? All the junk you find in a shark's belly, it just seems strange that they would be spitting feet out but like Oreste said "Anything is possible....:

    June 19, 2008 at 2:11 pm |
  21. Marie Claude

    I am not sure if they could be those of the men missing from the plane crash because there was an article about a woman whose husband died in that plane crash that killed 4 or 5 men and said that her husband had been located and burried after the crash. Although he is the only man that had been found, it would mean that they are now down to 3 or 4 men missing. Seems like there are 5 RIGHT feet that have been found lately.. to whom that extra foot (or these extra feet)would belong to then?? More feet turned up than actual missing men from the plane!!

    June 19, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  22. Jody

    There is obvously alot of information that is being kept out of the news that is too early to share with the media but a little more information may help someone identify the person(s) to whom the feet belong to. I think they are dealing with something much more complicated than a plane crash and they are baffled.

    My questions are:

    Did the first five feet have shoes as well?
    Are they all men's feet? (I thought I read that there 5th foot was a woman's)
    If the bones were not severed, why isn't the shin bone attached?
    How much flesh is still attached to each foot?
    The obvious question! If they are from a plane crash, where's the rest of the bodies, why only feet.

    June 19, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  23. Oreste Matellini

    No doctor here but a foot inside a laced up shoe can be preserved I guess from being eaten by sea life, which would not be the case on other body parts exposed more to the elements if these are body parts from some plane crash or the like.... But if there's some looney person chopping people's feet with tools those tool marks would have been eaten away by sea life I guess???? Of course, If the owner's of the feet are alive they would have come forward already! What about some morgue intern playing with unclaimed body parts??? Maybe I watch too many movies but hey! Anything is possible....

    June 19, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  24. Gary Chandler in Canada

    There is only one explanation I can think of.
    An employee at a mortuary or a crematorium, with access to these body parts, has a macabre sense of prankster-ism.
    The other theory going around concerns a serial killer who is a boater.

    June 19, 2008 at 1:38 pm |
  25. Pat

    Your initial report suggested foul play because the feet had been clearly severed with a very clean cut. Now that fact appears to have changed. Sounds like the investigate is far from complete even as far as the report of condition of the evidence is concened.

    June 19, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  26. Fay, CA

    Randi, this is a story I've been following on the web for a while and it just gets stranger by the day–the theory about a plane crash or a boating accident being the cause sounds pretty plausible–or at least that's what I'd like to believe, because it freaks me out to think that there's some maniac going around chopping people's feet off and dumping them in the water.

    June 19, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  27. Melissa

    How can the officials say the feet weren't severed? If they weren't, wouldn't they be attached to the leg? There's a lot the officials aren't releasing about these feet for us to even try to understand what might have happened.

    June 19, 2008 at 1:10 pm |
  28. Janna

    re; only feet turning up- Perhaps hungry sea life devoured the rest of the bodies...

    June 19, 2008 at 1:06 pm |
  29. Cindy

    I have been reading about and keeping up with this story. It is very strange indeed! The first thought that came to my mind was that someone was killing people, dismembering them and putting their bodies in the ocean. But now they don't think that is the case.

    I will really be looking forward to this report tonight.


    June 19, 2008 at 1:05 pm |