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“Mystery Feet” news conference: 2 feet from same man (VIDEO)

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

Part 1 (runs 8:12)
Part 2
(runs 15:28 )

(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.

Shoes 1 and 2
Shoes 1 and 2

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.

After reading KOMO-TV’s July 9 headline about this case on komonews.com, I felt compelled to revisit the definition of sever. KOMO’s headline read, Retracing the steps of the severed feet.

(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.

Shoes 3 & 4
Shoes 3 & 4

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).

Shoe 5
Shoe 5

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:

July 9:     Breaking News: Police to hold news conference about human feet mystery
June 28:  Pig video lends insight into B.C. human feet mystery
June 23:  Truth yet to surface in human feet mystery

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Truth yet to surface in human feet mystery

(Update, July 9, 1:30pm PST): Breaking News: Police to hold news conference about human feet mystery

(Update, June 28, 8:59am PST)“Pig video lends insight into B.C.’s human feet mystery”

Update:  NEWS CONFERENCE DELAYED

(June 26, 2:23am PST):  “Police delay update on feet mystery” –Seattle Times

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has delayed a news conference on the case of the five feet that have washed ashore along the Strait of Georgia over the past year.

The RCMP had planned to update the public this week but has now decided to hold off until more of the investigation is complete, said Constable Annie Linteau, the agency’s spokeswoman. –Seattle Times

(June 23) It’s already happened five times in less than a year: a human foot found washed-up on a beach or floating in the waters within British Columbia’s Strait of Georgia.

One week ago, a foot was found inside a sneaker floating near Westham Island in the mouth of the Fraser River.

It was a left foot.

Four prior discoveries, dating back to August 2007, were all right feet.

It’s a story that appears in today’s Seattle Times.

So far, investigators have not been able to link any of the feet to people who’ve been reported missing.

British Columbia’s chief coroner says that–so far–there is no evidence of foul play.

Despite a tight-lipped stance from police, the case is now netting media attention from around the world.

Of course, theories are emerging from people trying to solve the mystery.  One theory is that the feet drifted across the Pacific Ocean after tsunamis or storms in Asia.

Others speculate that the feet are from people who’ve drowned or disappeared in the strait.

Another theory is that the feet are the result of a sick prank performed by someone who has access to cadavers.

And, yes, some people wonder if this is the work of a serial killer.

According to the Seattle Times, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is expected to hold a news conference about the case this week.  Although, the paper reports, it’s quite possible that the news conference won’t produce much new information.

subsequent news coverage:

(June 24): “Cold Feet: A bizarre mystery baffles British Columbia” –newsweek.com

The macabre discoveries have attracted armchair investigators from around the globe and inspired a couple of twisted pranksters. An anonymous posting on Craigslist last week urged readers to “have some fun” and “take a raw turkey drumstick, tie it inside one of your old running shoes and throw it in the ocean late at night when no one can see, or drop it off the ferry from the car deck. Then watch the news.” A sixth foot, found at Campbell River on June 19, turned out to be an animal appendage wrapped in seaweed and crammed into a shoe-seemingly a sick joke on the cops and local citizens, who are gobbling up any details about the story they can find. –newsweek.com

(June 24): “Feet theories abound, while 28 men are missing” –globeandmail.com

We’re likely to get fresh news this week about the feet. At least, so says RCMP Constable Annie Linteau, the poor soul responsible for dealing with the monsoon of media calls from around the world about the feet-stuffed shoes washing up on our shores.

Actually, Ms. Linteau sounds a little star-struck by some of the calls she’s been getting. The king of talk, CNN’s Larry King, wanted her on his show to chat about the story. So did Mr. King’s CNN colleague, Nancy Grace. Constable Linteau graciously declined the invitations.

Jay Leno may be harder to turn down.  –globeandmail.com

-prior news coverage:

( June 21, 2008 ) “B.C. floats endless foot theories” –thestar.com (Toronto)

Eric Kunze, who conducts research into ocean physics at the University of Victoria, said it would be impossible for the feet to have travelled from Asia to the coast of British Columbia.

“If feet were coming through from there, we would have thousands of feet coming onto the shores of B.C.,” he said. “From an oceanographic standpoint, all we can really say at this point is they originated somewhere from the Strait of Georgia.” –thestar.com

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