It started back in August, 2007, when a twelve year old girl stumbled across a very unexpected bit of flotsam (or is that jetsam? I never know the difference). It was a size-12 sneaker, which would appear to be nothing unusual, except that there was still a foot in it! This occurred on Jedidiah Island, one of the many small islands found in the Strait of Georgia, a body of water running between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. A rather grisly find, no doubt, but not much to write home about. A week later, a couple walking along the beach of another Gulf Island, Gabriola Island, made a similar discovery. Another sneaker, another size-12 foot. One would assume that it belonged to the same person as the previous foot. But no, this was another right foot. Now, I know that there are some people out there with two left feet, but two right feet? Hmmmmm, this is starting to look a wee bit suspicious to me. According to Cpl Garry Cox of the RCMP - aka the Mounties, who always get their man - "Two being found in such a short period of time is quite suspicious." No shit, Sherlock.
It is now February and things are starting to get creepy. I wake up one morning after dreaming about finding a foot on a beach and then when I turn the TV on for my early morning fix of local news, what do I hear? Yep, another foot has washed ashore on a Gulf island. Yep, it is a man's foot and yep, it is a size 12 in a sneaker and yep, it is a right foot. OK, this is definitely getting beyond a coincidence. What is happening here? Where are these feet coming from and where are the rest of the bodies? Of course, the RCMP are remaining very tight lipped.
May 23rd, another one hops ashore, this time at the mouth of the Fraser River in Richmond, just south of Vancouver. Another right foot in a running shoe.
June 17th, human foot found in a running shoe off Westham Island, Ladner, just south of Richmond. This time, it is a left foot. So far, five feet in total, all in running shoes and all but one, right feet.
June 19th, number six, off Campbell River on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Enough, enough...............we need answers.
So, what could possibly explain this plethora of feet sans bodies? The RCMP are certainly not rushing in with any explanations. They are still claiming that there is no evidence to link the feet and that they are treating each case separately. Hello? How likely is it that six feet could have washed ashore in a small geographical area and not be in any way connected? You really are talking one hugemongous coincidence for that to be the case. And can we remember a case about a man and his pigs and some fifty women who went missing from Vancouver over a period of twenty years? How long did it take before the police managed to cotton on to that one and link the cases together? Now, don't get me wrong, I am not denigrating our police - they have a very hard and thankless job to do - but come on! Surely there has to be some connection. Let's have a look at some of the theories out there that could explain the feet.
- The feet belong to accident victims. Several small planes have crashed in recent years in the Georgia Strait and the accident victims are not always recovered. It is possible that the feet belong to such unfortunate individuals and no foul play is involved. However, DNA tests have been carried out and the DNA does not match any missing person on file.
- Many young, healthy men have gone missing from the Vancouver area over the past few years and the feet could belong to some of them. Again, no DNA matches have been made.
- Some people seem to think that the feet have just collected in this small area due to the prevailing currents bringing the feet in from a much larger area. Apparently, a body in the water will naturally sink and decompose and the bones will disarticulate. A running shoe is naturally buoyant and so will float to the surface with the remains of the foot still inside. Apparently, most people's right foot is slightly larger than their left foot and most people tie their right shoe slightly tighter than their left, and so it is more likely that a right foot will stay inside the shoe. Hence the conspicuous shortage of left feet. One RCMP has stated "This may very well be nothing more than the results of natural process of decomposition in water and the combined effects of predation by aquatic scavengers." While I can agree that feet will detach from a body and running shoes are likely to float, what I don't understand is why here and why now? How come feet are not washing up in other places of the world on such a regular basis? Surely there are many people that are lost at sea whose bodies are never recovered? I have never heard of so many feet being found over such a short time span in such a small area.
- Foul play. No matter how many times the police say there is no reason to suspect foul play, well, you have to. Too many people have gone missing and too many feet have floated ashore. Vancouver is well known for its drug trade and criminal gang activities. I can't help but think that this may be their way of dealing with rivals or unwanted individuals. The next question is, are the feet the end result of this or are they being deliberately dumped as some kind of warning? Are the mafia now using a concrete boot instead of boots?
I am sure that there are other explanations and I am sure that we would all like to see this matter cleared up if for no other reason than to solve this baffling mystery. I am concerned that this investigation did get off on the wrong foot, but I am sure that the RCMP are putting their best foot forward...........
Enough with the bad jokes. It has just been announced that the sixth foot found was not, in fact, human. It was someone's idea of a joke. They placed a dog's paw in a sock, put it in a running shoe which they then stuffed full with seaweed and left it on the beach. Now that is just despicable. What on earth were they thinking? Why would anyone do that? Did they not consider how this might affect the families out there who have lost loved ones at sea? This sixth foot was planted on a beach just 10 kilometres away from the crash site of a small plane that went down three years ago. Four of the people on that plane were never recovered. That doesn't bug me, that just makes me angry.