Victoria Police say they are launching a full-scale investigation to track down the “sick” pranksters who left three child-sized shoes filled with meat-like materials on a popular city beach area.
Const. Mike Russell confirmed Friday the shoes found at Clover Point contained non-human remains and were left on the beach as an act of public mischief.
He said the discovery sent chills throughout the Victoria area and the tourist who found the first shoe while strolling on the beach Thursday evening was shaken.
A police dog searching the beach found the two other shoes after the initial discovery, Mr. Russell said.
“Imagine what the community feels like when they are thinking that some kids’ shoes are washing up with possible human remains in them,” said Russell. “It’s pretty sick.”
Mr. Russell called on the pranksters to turn themselves in before police find them.
He said the police department is committed to doing whatever it takes to arrest the people responsible for the hoax.
“We need to send a message right now that this is unacceptable in our community,” he said. “I don’t care what it takes, we need to find these people and we need to bring them to justice and tell people that our community is safe, and if you are going to be out there doing this, we’re going to come for you.”
Over the past five years, at least nine runners have been found with human remains inside along the shores of British Columbia, while there have also been at least two other hoaxes.
The B.C. Coroner’s Service said last October that six of the eight feet that washed ashore in B.C. since 2007 were identified as belonging to four people.
The coroner’s service has said the feet apparently separated naturally from bodies in the water without foul play.
Two feet were identified as belonging to a woman who committed suicide by jumping from the Pattullo Bridge in New Westminster in 2004.
In February, the coroner’s service also identified foot bones that had washed ashore on Sasamat Lake in Port Moody, B.C.
It said the bones were those of Stefan Zahorujko, a 65-year-old man who was fishing alone on the lake when he went missing in January 1987.
Mr. Russell said police confirmed the three shoes did not contain human remains, but they have not yet been able to determine what the meat-like material was that found in the shoes.
The shoes and their contents are being examined by forensic anthropologists.
Mr. Russell said police are processing the shoes and the remains for evidence. He said he expects to show the shoes publicly to the media next week to help in possibly generating tips or leads for the investigation.