Two feet found on B.C. coast from same person

From Friday's Globe and Mail

VANCOUVER — Officials investigating the feet washing up on British Columbia shores hope someone will recognize a waterlogged sneaker and give them a call.

Police revealed Thursday that DNA analysis has determined two of the feet, in men's blue-and-white size 11 Nikes, belonged to the same man. But coroners and forensic anthropologists have said that's just about all the information they're going to get without more leads from relatives of missing persons.

Coroners Service regional executive director Jeff Dolan said DNA and forensic investigations haven't revealed any clues as to the victims' age or ethnicity, how long the feet were in the water or any possible cause of death.

“This hinges on identifying who the individuals were and then working back,” he said. “[Coroners are] going to be following up on all the leads that have come in or will come in. There are leads they're currently following up on that have been received prior to today.”

At a joint news conference Thursday, the RCMP, the B.C. Coroners Service and the Delta Police Department distributed photos and detailed information on the five feet found since August, 2007. The unusual discoveries have produced heated conjecture, conspiracy theories and a hoax foot, but few concrete answers.

What is known is that two of the feet make a pair: The man's right foot was found Feb. 2 on Valdes Island, the left June 16 on Westham Island.

One of the other three right feet, which was found May 22 on Kirkland Island, was a woman's.

The RCMP reiterated Thursday that the feet weren't forcibly severed. Police have narrowed efforts to match the feet with missing persons to 113 men and 159 women, most of them from B.C.

But the rest is a mystery.

“Until the remains have been identified we are going to explore all possibilities,” RCMP Constable Annie Linteau said. “We are inviting anyone who's had a missing loved one last seen wearing these particular shoes to call our information line.”

That's no comfort to Sally Feast, who found out recently that none of the feet match DNA samples of her older brother Arnie, who died with four other people in a plane crash in 2005. She has been looking for his body – and closure – ever since.

“It's very sad. I would have taken anything,” she said. “Every day you question it. You wake up and you go, ‘Maybe today?'“ At the same time, the news comes as a relief, she said. “That means that he's all together in one spot. … If it was him, where's the rest of him? That would be the tough part of it.”

Investigators have identified the brands of all five shoes and the years they were made in the hopes of shedding more light on their origins. In addition to the Nikes are one man's Reebok, a woman's New Balance and a man's Campus shoe. They date from 1999 to 2004.

Three of the four brands are widely available in North American stores, but Campus shoes are produced by Delhi-based Action Shoes and are sold predominantly in India, Constable Linteau said.

“The Campus brand shoe was very difficult because there's not a lot of markings on them,” she said, adding that the RCMP had been in contact with Action. “They're not sold here.”

New Balance spokeswoman Amy Vreeland said the RCMP contacted the shoe manufacturer in May or June to confirm the brand. She said most New Balance shoes have model numbers the company can use to determine when the shoe was made and what stores would have carried it.

“I don't know how far back we have that system, but today I could say, ‘This particular shoe model is sold in these types of stores.'”

Richard Thomson, a physical oceanographer with the Institute of Ocean Sciences, said knowing two feet found in different locations belong to the same person could give coroners a clue as to where the body entered the water – but they need to know which foot washed up first.

If it was the foot found on Valdes Island, that means the second foot would have drifted up into the mouth of the Fraser in winter, when low water levels can reverse the river's current. If the foot found on Westham Island washed up first, both feet probably flowed down the Fraser River before being dumped into the ocean.

“You can't say definitively where the two feet came from until you know the relative length of time they were in the water,” Dr. Thomson said, “and that would tell you a heck of a lot.”




Ottawa Mens, from Canada wrote: The RCMP ran insufficient DNA tests! IF they included Ydna and Mtdna testing it would have possibly provided living distant cousins. It would have provided race and build information about male deceased from the Ydna and Mtdna. The female deceased would have provided maternal information that again would clearly show say an aboriginal mother or a mother from a specific racial group or sub group. That would go a long way to pointing investigators in the right direction. WHEN will the RCMP RUN THESE MARKERS ?