Why Do Shoes Containing Severed Feet Keep Washing Up On Pacific Northwest Beaches?

Published February 12, 2016
Updated February 15, 2018

Since 2007, 16 severed feet, still in shoes, have washed up on the beaches of the Pacific Northwest. Here are some possible answers to this grisly mystery.

Video Source: CTV Vancouver Island via The Washington Post

Since 2007, 16 severed human feet, still in their shoes, have washed up on the shores of the Pacific Northwest. There have been some men, some women, and various ages and sizes. The facts can get more specific than that if you want them to (five men, one woman, three New Balances, two Nikes), but it doesn’t change the fact that, that’s effectively all we know.

Earlier this week, on Vancouver Island, foot number 16 was found. This time, it was a running shoe, a black sock, and a person that likely disappeared sometime between March and December 2013. Once again, the remaining facts — the little that there are — won’t do much of anything to answer your question: why?

The proposed explanations, some coming from law enforcement and some coming from amateur sleuths, are as varied, in both content and quality, as you’d expect. Some suggest we’re finally seeing the remains of victims who went down in a nearby plane crash in 2005. Others suggest we’re seeing victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami, their bodies pulled northwards over the course of ten-plus years by the strong Pacific current. Others still suggest, of course, a serial killer.

While law enforcement agrees that the frequency with which these feet are appearing is astonishing and unprecedented, they generally suggest a far more basic answer: suicides and accidents. Two of the feet belonged to people with mental illnesses and three belonged to people who are strongly believed to have died of natural causes. Across all the cases, foul play is generally not suspected and all involved are quick to point out that ocean currents, over time, can easily cause a limb to detach from a decaying body.

Still — given the frequency, the commonalities in footwear, and more — some suggest that there are just too many coincidences for this not to be something deeper and darker. And you certainly can’t blame them.


For more extraordinary head-scratchers, check out these mysteries of ancient history and the five greatest mysteries in human history.

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