Human foot in sneaker found along Seattle waterfront

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The shoe is a New Balance athletic sneaker, men’s size 10.5, white with blue trim.
Credit: King County Medical Examiner

Authorities in Seattle are seeking clues after a human foot inside a sneaker washed ashore along the city’s waterfront earlier this week.

Volunteers who were cleaning up Centennial Park, near Pier 68, found the shoe about 10 a.m. on May 6, The Seattle Times reported.

“They were cleaning up trash at the park and came across a tennis shoe,” Port of Seattle spokesman Peter McGraw told the Times. “Upon further examination, they found there was a foot in it.”

The King County medical examiner’s office released a photo of the New Balance sneaker on Wednesday. It is a men’s size 10.5, white with blue trim. That model of shoe first went on sale in April 2008. A black, cotton Hanes sock was also found on the foot. The sex, age, ancestry and stature of the individual are not known.

Anyone who is aware of a missing person known to have worn this type of shoe is urged to contact the medical examiner’s office at 206-731-3232, ext. 1.

According to NBC News, this is the 15th case since 2007 in which a bodiless foot encased in a tennis shoe has washed ashore in the Pacific Northwest, including several in British Columbia.

While there have been many theories as to how the appendages end up in the waters, including speculation about a serial killer, NBC reported that all of the 11 feet found there were determined to be the result of “non-suspicious deaths” and are attributable to accidents or suicides.

“We found there is nothing suspicious in any of them,” a spokeswoman for the British Columbia Coroners Service told NBC. “It appears that the feet become disarticulated from the body naturally with time, as the bodies decompose and are eaten by sea life or other marine organisms.”

Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer told the Seattle Times that decomposing bodies come apart at the joints, including ankles. New, lightweight sneakers help the remains stay afloat, while also protecting them from birds, by floating sole up.



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