VANCOUVER, B.C. – One of the five feet that have mysteriously washed up on the shores of British Columbia over the past year has been linked to a depressed man who went missing a year ago, police said Saturday.
Police sergeant Pierre Lemaitre said DNA testing helped to identify the man. The man’s name is not being made public at the family’s request, said Lemaitre.
“We’re being very sensitive to the family’s demands,” he said, adding more information will be released on Monday. “They wanted the time to reach out to their immediate family and share the news among themselves.”
A team of investigators has been working on the bizarre case since the first foot washed up last August on Jedidiah Island in the Strait of Georgia.
Since last year, detached feet began appearing, floating within a few miles of each other along island shorelines in the Strait of Georgia near Vancouver. The bizarre findings baffled Canadian officials.
Lemaitre did not comment on reports that a U.S. coroner in Washington state’s San Juan Islands had found a footless body five months before the first foot washed ashore in British Columbia, except to say that Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigators are looking into the reports.
San Juan Islands coroner Randy Gaylord said he was never contacted by Canadian authorities about a possible connection.
The first foot was found nearly a year ago on Jedidiah Island in the Strait of Georgia. Within days, another right foot was found inside a man’s Reebok sneaker on nearby Gabriola Island.
The third foot was found in the same area, on the east side of Valdez Island in February. The fourth foot was found in May on Kirkland Island in the Fraser River, less than a mile from the site where the fifth foot was found later on.
A sixth discovery last month turned out to be a hoax, with an animal paw stuffed inside a shoe.
So far, investigators have concluded that two of the five feet belonged to one man and that one foot was from a woman.
Police said they are reviewing almost 300 missing persons files and haven’t yet been able to match any other DNA from the feet to any missing people.
British Columbia coroner Jeff Dolan has said there was no evidence the feet were severed.
Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer based in Seattle, said when a human body is submerged in the ocean, parts like arms, legs, hands, feet and head are usually what come off the body.
Ebbesmeyer said the feet could have been severed or detached from their bodies on their own.
Dr. John Butt, a forensic pathologist based in Vancouver, B.C., speculates the reason the feet were discovered was they were tightly laced in buoyant running shoes, which floated to the surface.