Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Plot Thickens

This is no coincidence.

About three weeks ago, we posted about the mysterious severed feet which have been washing ashore in British Columbia. Four feet had washed ashore then - but now, a fifth severed foot has been found. A special HPO thank-you goes out to our correspondent Anita Mandalay, who sent us this link:
5th human foot washes up on Canada coast
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — A fifth human foot in a year has washed ashore off the coast of British Columbia, and this time it's a left one.
Police said two people out for a walk spotted the left foot floating in water off Westham Island on Monday morning.
Delta Police Const. Sharlene Brooks said officials are working with the B.C. Coroner's office to see if this foot is linked to any other partial remains recovered in the province.
Westham Island is at the mouth of the Fraser River, about 15 miles south of Vancouver.
"A passerby noticed a shoe floating in the water, pulled it in and notified police," Brooks said. "We're treating it as a criminal investigation."
While the similarities to the other found feet is strong, she said there's no indication this foot is related to the other cases.
"We're certainly not discounting the possibility that this may be linked to the other recovered feet, but it's just too premature and very speculative for us to even entertain that right now," she said.
The last foot was found May 22 on Kirkland Island in the Fraser River, about one mile away from Monday's discovery.
The first in the series 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 was found in the same area, on the east side of Valdez Island in early February.
The origin on any of the remains is still unknown.
"This might take a long time," Brooks said. "This is not CSI." She said in order to identify the foot, other remains from the body or identifying material such as a DNA would be needed. "It's going to be pretty difficult."
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has said there's no evidence the feet were severed or removed from the victims' legs by force.
Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer based in Seattle, Wash., said when a human body is submerged in the ocean, the main parts like arms, legs, hands, feet and the head are usually what come off the body.
He said his theory is that the feet came along as a result of an accident that might have happened up along the Fraser River, that washed down and spread out along the Straight of Georgia.
Ebbesmeyer said when the third foot was found the feet could have drifted from as far as 1,000 miles away. Ebbesmeyer said the feet could have been severed or detached from their bodies on their own.

Apparently, the Canadian police are still selling us their "plane crash" explanation, believing that all five feet belonged to people involved in some accident and that now, over a year later, the feet are turning up. If this is true, why has every single foot been in a sport shoe when it was found? Isn't that a bit strange?

Generally, we don't have too much faith in the way this investigation is being handled. Let's be realistic here - if we're really hypothesizing that the feet washed down the Fraser River from some accident which occurred there, how do you explain the location of the five feet?

View Larger Map

As you can clearly see from the map, the five severed feet have been found fairly close to each other in the Georgia Strait. Now, the Fraser River flows right through downtown Vancouver and empties into the Strait. However, the currents in the Georgia Strait usually push the silty run-off from the Frasier River to the south and east of the drainage - which conflicts with the locations of three of the feet, found to the north and to the west of the mouth of the river.

And, according to experts, currents and tidal patterns are not very good evidence:

The use of oceanographic science is not routinely used in investigation, but activated when other lines of inquiry are founding wanting. Use of experienced physical oceanographers in the early stages of inquiries into a water related deaths will save time and reduce the chance of false assumptions being made by investigators. The most appropriate personnel are those with a firm grounding in fieldwork as well as numerical techniques, rather than those who have only worked at the theoretical level. Such personnel should also be familiar with the integration of weather data with hydrodynamic simulations.

So, all that speculation that is being done by those genius oceanographers working with the Canadian police should be taken with a grain of salt - these are only theories, and pretty far-fetched ones at that.

Now, we have to assume that over the past few months of this investigation, the cops have pulled the files of all missing persons in BC over the past three years, focused on the ones missing from near the Fraser River or one of its tributaries, and tried to match the severed feet to those missing people.

But the real question is: Does the "upstream river accident" theory really make sense? We think the answer is "no". Which is why we're betting that the answer to this mystery is "serial killer"... Plain and simple.

We'll keep you posted on further developments.


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