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Page last updated at 22:43 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 23:43 UK

Canada coroner condemns foot hoax

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A severed "foot" in a running shoe found in Canada's British Columbia is not human, the province's coroners service says.

It said the remains found near Campbell River on Vancouver Island on Wednesday belonged to an animal, describing the hoax as "reprehensible".

Five human feet in shoes have been found in the area since last August. All but one were right feet.

Police have not reached any conclusions on the origins of the feet.

'Skeletonised animal paw'

The latest find was on Wednesday when a woman collecting rocks spotted a shoe-clad foot on a beach.

This type of hoax is reprehensible and very disrespectful to the families of missing persons
British Columbia's Coroners Service

Another woman, who manages a tourist campground at Campbell River, a fishing town on Vancouver Island, accompanied her to the spot.

"I could see two white bones sticking out of a black sneaker," Sandra Malone told the National Post newspaper.

"It was definitely severed, like it had been sawn off."

But British Columbia Coroners Service (BCCS) later said the remains belonged to an animal.

"The coroners service, a forensic pathologist and an anthropologist have all examined the shoe and remains, and determined a skeletonised animal paw was inserted into the shoe with a sock and packed with dried seaweed," it said in a statement.

"It is the position of BCCS that this type of hoax is reprehensible and very disrespectful to the families of missing persons.

"It fuels inappropriate speculation and creates undue anxiety for families and communities while wasting valuable investigative time and resources that could be spent on the main investigations," BCCS said.

Gruesome finds

On Monday, a human foot was found on another island off Vancouver.

Like the previous four, it is believed to have become detached at the ankle, in a process called disarticulation.

Forensic scientists say it is not unusual for body parts to become separated after they have been in the water for a long time.

Running shoes help to preserve the remains and because the soles are buoyant, the feet are brought to the surface.

Last August, two human feet washed up on the beaches of small islands off Vancouver. Then in February a third single right foot drifted ashore.

The fourth foot was discovered on a beach in suburban Vancouver in May.

Investigators are looking at the cases individually but are also trying to establish if there any links.

Forensics teams are taking DNA samples and police are also trying to find out who made the shoes and where they were sold.

But with so little concrete information, theories abound.

Organised crime, boating accidents, even the 2004 Asian tsunami are all being offered as possible explanations.


SEE ALSO
Fifth human foot found in Canada
17 Jun 08 |  Americas
Foot find confuses Canada police
24 May 08 |  Americas

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