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Why have more than a dozen human feet washed up on the shores of the Pacific Northwest?

Human feet washing up on shores of Pacific Northwest

Note: See updates at bottom or article.

As of 2014, police say they do not think a serial killer is responsible for the mystery feet but can’t totally rule out the possibility after the 15th human foot washed up on the shores of the Seattle waterfront this week. Since 2007, an average of two human feet per year have washed up on a 125-mile shorefront along the Pacific Northwest. The human foot found on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, was wearing a size 10-1/2 white New Balance tennis shoe and was found on the shore at Centennial Park, just north of downtown Seattle.

The first mystery human foot was found on August 7, 2007, on a beach at Jedediah Island by a young girl who found the foot when she picked up a shoe and opened the sock inside. Since then, the grisly remains of fifteen dismembered human feet, wearing tennis shoes or hiking boots, have been found along the stretch of ocean-front land bordering British Columbia and Washington. In most of the cases, police ruled that the feet were the results of “non-suspicious deaths” – either accidental drowning or suicides.

According to medical examiners, the feet become “disarticulated from the body naturally with time, as the bodies decompose and are eaten by sea life”. The material in the running shoes, hiking boots, and socks is too tough for anything to eat through so the foot remains inside the shoe – intact. In addition, the rubber soles of the shoes have air in them and therefore float, allowing them to travel with the ocean currents. This phenomenon occurs all over the world but the circular currents along the “Salish Sea” (the area off northern Washington and southern British Columbia) make it uniquely suited as the resting place for the grisly remains of deceased humans lost at or around the sea.  It is possible that the feet arrive on the shores of the Pacific Northwest from all over the world.

NBC News reported:

“Coroner’s officials have managed to match all but two of the recovered feet to victims, providing closure to their families. In one case, they were able to confirm the death of a fisherman who had vanished in 1987 – 25 years before his foot was found.”

Found feet

August 20, 2007

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Foot of man wearing size 12 Adidas shoe and a sock.  Shoe was found to have been produced in 2003 and distributed in India.

August 26, 2007

Discovered by a couple off Gabriola Island.  Foot of man contained in shoe produced in 2004 and sold worldwide.

February 8, 2008

Right men’s foot found on Valdes Island in sneaker and sock.

May 22, 2008

Woman’s right foot found in New Balance sneaker manufactured in 1999.  Discovery was made on Kirkland Island and thought to have washed down from the Fraser River.

June 16, 2008

Two hikers discovered left foot floating in water near Westham Island.  DNA matched the foot to the right foot found on February 8, 2008.

August 1, 2008

Right male foot found in size 11 athletic shoe by a camper on a beach near Pysht, Washington.

November 11, 2008

Foot found in New Balance tennis shoe found floating in the Fraser River in Richmond was matched to foot found on May 22, 2008.

October 28, 2009

Foot found in running shoe along beach in Richmond.

August 27, 2010

Human foot of child or female found without shoe or sock on Whidbey Island, Washington.  Investigation revealed it had only been in the water for two months.

December 5, 2010

Right foot inside boy’s size 6 Ozark Trail hiking boot found in Tacoma, Washington.

August 30, 2011

Foot attached to lower leg bones found floating next to the Plaza of Nations marina in False Creek, Vancouver.

November 4, 2011

Foot found in size 12 men’s hiking boot in a pool of fresh water at Sasamat Lake near Port Moody.  Foot was identified as that of Stefan Zahorujiko who was reported missing in 1987.

January 26, 2012

Human foot remains found in sand near the Maritime Museum in Vancouver.

September 16, 2013

Human tissue and bones found inside size 7 1/2 Puma tennis shoe on Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California.

May 6, 2014

Human foot found in size 10 1/2 New Balance tennis shoe along shoreline of Centennial Park in Seattle.

February 10, 2016

Human foot found clad in running shoe and black sock.  Foot was found along Vancouver Island’s Botanical Beach by a hiker.  Police still believe there is no serial killer at large.

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