Every now and then, a human foot washes ashore in Washington State or British Columbia. Sometimes, it's really plastic replica or animal bones and flesh stuffed in a sock.
But most of the time, it's the real thing, and police have only DNA testing and a shoe to figure out who the person may be. Often, the limb remains unidentified, but on occasion, they're able to follow the clues to a name.
That's what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are hoping for after the 13th human foot showed up in the area, now on Vancouver Island, the Vancouver Sun reported. They have a general idea when its accompanying sneaker was made and therefore can guess as to when its owner went missing.
The local coroner hopes to match DNA with missing persons records so the person can be identified this time and bring closure for the family, CHECK added.
On Sunday afternoon, Charlotte Stephens was on a family trip to the island's Botanical Beach when her husband found the human foot, still in its sneaker.
"(My husband) was up on the driftwood and he happened to find the shoe. He picked it (up) and brought it out on to the beach and we had a look at it for about five minutes and we thought it almost looks like there is an actual bone in it … All you could see is about three inches of white material, and we were trying to determine if it was actual human bone or just something else placed inside. It definitely looked like it but we weren't going to take anything out of the shoe to find out."Wherever the human remains came from, police don't suspect that it detached from the body as a result of a crime. As with the other dozen that have shown up in British Columbia and Washington State, the authorities don't suspect foul play.
According to CTV News, it "disarticulated" from the body after the entire person had been in the water for a long time. A preliminary exam revealed evidence that the separation was completely natural, and the limb followed its own course to Vancouver Island on February 7.
The coroner's office, which will spearhead the investigation, according to the Huffington Post Canada, has determined when the shoe was made, implying a window of time in which the owner could've died.
Without this information, the coroner said it would be very difficult to estimate how long the pair was in the water before washing ashore on Vancouver Island. Due to ocean currents, it's also difficult to trace it back to its point of origin.
The sneaker was first available in North America three years ago, sometime after March 2013. The person who purchased the shoe likely went missing between then and December 2015, said Vancouver Island coroner Matt Brown.Most of the remains washed up between August 2007 and November 2011. In total, 10 of the now 13 feet found belonged to seven people and of those, only three have been identified. Their names haven't been reported.
The oldest human foot to materialize was from a man who'd been missing for 25 years after his boat capsized. A right male foot found in 2007, the first one discovered, was linked to a depressed man who vanished earlier that year.
The fourth and seventh feet discovered -- the right in May and the left in November 2008 -- belonged to the same woman, and she was identified. The third and fifth feet were linked as well to the same man, whose identity is still a mystery; his feet surfaced in February and June 2008.
The remainder belongs to as-yet unidentified people, including one who may be a child.
So far, police don't believe that the foot washed ashore on Vancouver Island arrived there under suspicious circumstances. The coroner has ruled all of the other deaths the result of accidents or suicides and expects the same conclusion will be reached again.
[Image via 2009fotofriends/Shutterstock]