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Shoe with suspected human remains inside found on Victoria beach

Authorities say a foot encased in a shoe is sometimes the only thing left when a body is in the water and decomposes over lengthy periods.
Gonzales Beach, where a shoe with suspected human remains was found on Sunday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A shoe containing suspected human remains was found on Gonzales Beach in Victoria on Sunday. The man who made the discovery reported it to the B.C. Coroners Service, but declined to reveal to the Times Colonist where on the beach he found it and the type of shoe until after an investigation is complete.

The coroner’s office provided few other details. “I can confirm that the discovery was reported to our office and that we are in the very early stages of investigating,” Ryan Panton, manager of communications for the B.C. Coroners Service, said Wednesday. “As such I have nothing further to provide at this time.”

A Victoria police spokesperson said the department did not receive any calls about human remains on Sunday.

Panton said it’s not common to find human remains in shoes, but such discoveries have been made over the years.

DNA testing was used to identify all the remains found inside 15 shoes between 2007 and 2018.

Panton said the Gonzales Beach shoe is the first found to contain suspected remains since 2021, when the coroner identified the last of the documented cases.

Authorities say a foot encased in a shoe is sometimes the only thing left when a body is in the water and decomposes over lengthy periods.

At least six shoes with remains have been found on Vancouver Island and surrounding Islands since 2007. Another foot found in 2011 was linked to a man who had gone missing 25 years earlier when his boat overturned near Port Moody.

The coroner’s office said the first foot in its most recent records was found on Aug. 20, 2007, on Jedediah Island, northeast of Nanaimo. The right male foot was linked to a man who went missing in early 2007.

Another was found Aug. 26, 2007, on Gabriola Island. It was a right male foot and linked by DNA to a man who went missing in 2006.

On Feb. 8, 2008, on Valdes Island, a right foot belonging to a male was found in a Nike runner. The left foot was found the following June in the Fraser River.

On May 22, 2008, on Kirkland Island at the mouth of the Fraser River, a right female foot in a size 7 New Balance shoe was discovered. The following November, the left foot of the female was found on a Fraser River beach in Richmond.

On Sept. 30, 2011, in False Creek, a human foot and leg bones were found in a shoe.

Both feet of a man who went missing on Nov. 13, 2013 were discovered on Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew within a few days in February 2016.

Another discovery was made in December 2017 near Jordan River and linked to a man who went missing three months before.

In May 2018, a shoe and foot were discovered on Gabriola Island and were later linked to a man who went missing a few months before.

There have also been hoaxes.

On June 18, 2008, what was thought to be a foot washed up near Campbell River. It was later discovered that someone had placed the bones of an animal’s foot in a sock and packed it inside a sneaker with seaweed.

Then in September of that year, someone placed a plastic foot in a runner on an East Vancouver beach.

In September 2012, Victoria police investigated after five child-sized shoes were found at the Clover Point beach area. Three of the shoes were stuffed with flesh and bones meant to look like human remains, but tests revealed that they were not human.


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