New (July 11): New leads emerge after B.C. police reveal shoes… (globeandmail.com)
New: CBC News video:
New: Cops seek help in solving missing feet mystery (CTV Video)
New: Pictures of all 5 shoes (in post below)
New: Cororner’s findings, DNA analysis yields more clues in feet mystery (pdf)
New: Transcript of opening remarks from investigators.
New: CTV raw (UNEDITED) VIDEO of the news conference
(July 10) Canada’s CTV is reporting that two of five human feet that have washed ashore in the Strait of Georgia over the past year are from the same man.
Not surprisingly, several stories about today’s news conference are now appearing on the Internet. Here’s an excerpt from a report published on the Toronto Star’s Web site:
Although, initially, all the feet found were believed to be male, police now say that one of the feet belonged to a woman.
Constable Annie Linteau said there is no evidence that the feet were severed.
And here’s an excerpt from the CTV report:
Appearing at a news conference, RCMP Const. Annie Linteau said there is no evidence of trauma or tool markings to suggest the feet were severed.
“It appears it’s a natural process of decomposition,” she said, adding, “We have to be aware these still could be homicide victims.”
This distinction regarding the word “severed” is important.
I’ve refrained from using it in my stories about this case because it seems to me that “severed”–in its popular usage–strongly suggests that someone had cut the feet from the bodies.
(note: I’ve just noticed KOMO also uses “severed” in its headline concerning today’s news conference, Police: Two of Canada’s severed feet from same person)
KOMO’s headlines are deserving of scrutiny given this afternoon’s declarative sentence from the Toronto Star: “Constable Annie Linteau said there is no evidence that the feet were severed.”
KOMO isn’t alone, at the very moment Constable Linteau firmly states that there is no evidence that any of the feet were severed, CTV put the the following words over at the bottom of the video: Update on B.C. severed feet investigation (the headline for this story on CTV’s Web site opts for the word “detached”: RCMP update the detached feet case.
When I went to dictionary.com this morning, I found 6 definitions for “sever”, including:
1. to separate (a part) from the whole, as by cutting or the like, and
2. to divide into parts, esp. forcibly; cleave.
Loosely, I felt “severed” worked in this case. But in the popular use of the word, especially as it implies some sort of cutting, I don’t think it’s the best word here. One could argue that to do so is even misleading; especially in light of information that came from today’s news conference.
I worked in TV news for 20-years, and I can almost hear the argument in a newsroom for using “severed” (someone has no doubt quipped that the “sexiness” of the word gives the story “more legs”).
In previous media reports that have addressed “theories” for the mystery feet, investigators and scientists have stated that the most likely explanation for the feet in this case is the natural underwater “decomposition” of bodies.
In its excellent June 23 report, 5 feet, few clues make 1 big B.C. mystery, the Seattle Times addressed several possible explanations for the feet, including:
The feet are the result of the natural decomposition of people who have drowned or gone missing in the Strait.
Pro: This theory is most favored by experts, who say there is no evidence of foul play.
Con: The number of feet found in a short time — without any accompanying body parts — makes for an incredible coincidence.
All of this hardly sounds like someone’s going around cutting feet off of people (living or dead).
While it’s still possible, the experts have suggested it is the less likely explanation for this case.
Even if the decomposition theory turns out to be correct, foul-play could be involved. Afterall, how did these people die (if we are to assume they are dead)?
And if, in fact, the entirety of the bodies were/are in the Strait of Georgia, how did they end up there?
Previous posts on Mystery Feet: