For years, human feet washed up on beaches in the US and Canada. The reason is grim, but not as sinister as you may think.
It all started back in August 2007, when a young girl on Jedediah Island, British Columbia, found an sneaker washed ashore. She picked it up, looked inside and found a decaying foot.
For the next 10 years, more were discovered, mostly featuring feet inside running shoes of some sort. It attracted mass speculation, with some believing it to be the work of a twisted serial killer, the ‘mafia’ disposing of bodies or even extraterrestrials. This is not the case, however.
Following another discovery shortly after the first, Cpl. Garry Cox of Oceanside RCMP on Vancouver Island told CBC, ‘We have been informed that it looks like both feet had separated from the body by natural decomposition, possibly while in the water.’
The island’s regional coroner Rose Stanton also confirmed, ‘Both feet were decomposing, but still had flesh on them.’
Among the other stories, a man’s shoe with a foot was found floating next to the Plaza of Nations marina, False Creek, in August 2011, with some of the lower leg bones still attached, having detached from the knee due to the water. In 2014, a human foot was found inside a New Balance shoe along the shoreline of Centennial Park.
In total, between 2007 and 2019, 21 feet had been discovered by people walking on the beach. While surely a horrific thing to find, these mysterious appendages had authorities baffled for years.
Fortunately, coroner Barb McLintock had the solution. ‘We pretty well think we know what happened in every case. There’s none that have any suggestion of homicide.. in every case there is an alternate, very reasonable explanation,’ he told the National Post.
In response to the mad tales people credit for the washed-up feet, like aliens and murderers, he said it’s ‘sad but true… a lot of this is simply the quelling of the public imagination, to say, no, this is unfortunate and they’re all very sad cases’.
It’s all to do with the improvements in running shoe technology. ‘It really didn’t come up until we had running shoes that floated so well. Before, they just stayed down there at the bottom of the ocean,’ McLintock explained.
The feet themselves are often believed to have come from people who took their own lives or drowned as a result of an accident, with their bodies sinking to the bottom of the sea. As creatures feed on them, the feet then separate and float back to the surface, later washing ashore.