updated 7/19/2008 5:56:48 PM ET 2008-07-19T21:56:48

One of five feet that have mysteriously washed up on the shores of British Columbia over the past year has been linked to a depressed man who disappeared a year ago, police said Saturday.

Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre said DNA testing helped identify the man. The man's name was not made public at the family's request, he said.

The foot is the first to be identified by investigators, who have been working on the bizarre case since August when two feet were found days apart about 40 miles southwest of Vancouver on islands in the Strait of Georgia.

The first foot was discovered by beachcombers on Jedidiah Island. Days later, a right foot was found inside a man's size-12 Reebok sneaker on Gabriola Island.

Two weeks ago, police said a foot found on Valdez Island Feb. 8 and another foot found June 16 on Westham Island, more than 25 miles away and across a strait, belong to the same man.

Another foot was found May 22 on Kirkland Island in the Fraser River. It was laced inside a New Balance running shoe, and is the only one belonging to a woman, authorities said.

A sixth discovery last month turned out to be a hoax, an animal paw stuffed inside a shoe.

Police did not specify which of the feet belonged to the missing man.

"We're being very sensitive to the family's demands," said Lemaitre, adding that more information will be released Monday. "They wanted the time to reach out to their immediate family and share the news among themselves."

Police said they are reviewing almost 300 missing persons files and haven't yet been able to match any other DNA from the feet to any missing people.

British Columbia coroner Jeff Dolan has said there was no evidence the feet were severed and a pathologist has said the feet, which were all encased in tennis shoes, could have been separated by the forces of the ocean current.

Lemaitre would not comment on reports that a U.S. coroner in Washington state's San Juan Islands had found a footless body just five months before the first foot washed ashore in British Columbia.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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