It’s happening again. Another wave of ‘Dexter’-style discoveries have been occurring on the shores of Canada and the United States.
Since August 20, 2007, there have been reports of severed feet washing up on the shores of the Pacific Northwest and Canadian lakes. Typically the limbs are always right feet and wearing a running shoe, though a few ‘pairs’ have also been found.

One of the grisly finds, an animal paw, was found to be a hoax, but the rest have left police and forensic teams scratching their heads. A few of the feet have actually been identified as belonging to local people whom police believe died from natural causes, and forensics have managed to ascertain gender in other cases. Beyond this, no cause, motive or perpetrator has been discovered to date.

The latest finds were made at Ocean Beach, San Francisco, and Gull Island, Lake Ontario, and were consistent with previous discoveries in that both were wearing size 11 running shoes.

As human remains can be preserved by cold temperatures in the ocean, it was initially thought that the feet could be related to those lost in the tsunami in 2004, but once some of the feet were traced back to missing locals this idea was dismissed. Other theories include stowaways falling overboard, victims of boat or plane crashes, a serial killer preying on joggers or a hoax perpetrated by a morgue attendant with a dark sense of humour, but so far investigations have failed to uncover the truth behind the gruesome discoveries. As one foot was linked back to a woman who was known to have suicide by jumping into the water, Canadian authorities at one time believed the all eight feet found in their province were suicide bridge-jumpers; this, however, would suggest that running shoes are the footwear of choice for all individuals choosing to end their own lives in the area.

DNA testing of the remains can take months, and samples are often heavily contaminated by the build up of adipocere, a waxy, soap-like substance created from fat tissue by anaerobic bacteria in air-less environments.

Various body parts wash up on beaches all over the world and this in itself is not unusual; limbs become detached from the bodies of those lost at sea and can be preserved at sea for decades, though the consistently similar footwear in all cases must be considered to be a key feature of this mystery. Scientists have attempted to explain this aspect of the case by suggesting that feet encased in normal shoes might sink in water and rubber-soled running shoes float, meaning that only feet in this type of footwear would surface, but the revelation that at least one of the limbs had been deliberately severed has added a sinister note to the investigation, and some form of foul play must be suspected.

Unknown Country has been monitoring this story for years and will bring you the latest insights as they become available.

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