The Tenth Foot
by Robert A. Waters
On December 5, 2010, a boot with the remains of a foot inside was found in the tideflats near Tacoma, Washington. It was an OzArk Trail hiking boot, size 6. This type of boot was sold at Walmart stores in 2004 and 2005. Authorities told reporters that it would have been worn by a juvenile or small adult.
This is the tenth foot that has washed ashore in the Pacific Northwest since 2007. Some experts say it’s normal--most non-experts see nothing at all normal about it.
The first foot to wash ashore was identified as having belonged to a depressed individual whom investigators believe committed suicide. None of the others have been connected to any missing person.
Because it is so unusual to find shoe-clad feet along the shores of America, media speculation has been rampant. Some contend that the unidentified feet belong to persons killed in a plane crash. Or they’re the last remnants of victims of a serial killer. Or maybe they floated in from Asia, just a few thousand miles away.
The fact is that nobody knows where the feet came from. The one thing we do know is that it’s rare for feet encased in shoes to drift in on the tide. And it’s even more unusual for them to be clustered in one area.
While I don’t subscribe to the theory that the feet belong to victims of a serial killer, I think it’s irresponsible for police and experts to categorically deny it. Investigators contend that since there are no cut-marks on the feet, they can’t belong to a killer. But if the victim was shot, stabbed, strangled, smothered, or died in any other way, violence wouldn’t have shown up on the feet. Again, I don’t think it happened, but it can’t be discounted.
The plane crash theory keeps popping up. A small plane did indeed crash in 2005 near Quadra Island, not far from Vancouver. Only one of the five occupants was recovered. But DNA tests conclusively eliminated the plane crash victims.
Is the Puget Sound area around Tacoma and Vancouver a kind of gyre that funnels debris from the Pacific? Maybe, maybe not. Still, the questions remain. How did the bodies get into the water? Where did they originate? How many unfound feet have washed up in the area--feet that were buried in the sand or ended up unseen in a crevice of rock somewhere or on some lonely, deserted beach?
The mystery deepens as feet continue to make their appearance on shorelines across the Pacific Northwest.