Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008

The Case of the Disembodied Feet

Since August 2007, five human feet have washed ashore near Vancouver, British Columbia. No bodies, no heads, no clothes, just feet (4 left, 1 right), nearly all still clad in sneakers. Canadian authorities have yet to determine how the feet ended up there or why, though DNA tests matched one of the severed feet to a man who'd been missing for several months. A number of theories have been tossed around, including the possibility of foul play (though coroners familiar with the case say ocean currents and decomposition could have naturally separated the feet from their owners). Others speculate the remains might belong to four unrecovered victims of a 2005 plane crash off Quadra Island.

In June, a prankster spooked local authorities by planting a gruesome surprise for one unwitting beachgoer — a rotting animal paw stuffed inside an Adidas shoe. The most recent discovery was made in November, when another foot turned up in Washington, less than 50 miles south of the U.S.-Canadian border. As to why there have been so few leads, police spokesperson Sharlene Brooks told CNN, "We suffer from the 'CSI' effect: People think we can do things faster than we can.'' But a Vancouver panhandler told Bloomberg News he's already cracked the case: "I'll bet you it was murder. You just don't find feet lying around.''