msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 11/9/2011 3:28:10 PM ET 2011-11-09T20:28:10

Authorities are seeking the public's help in trying to determine the identity of a ninth foot that washed up in southwestern British Columbia.

The remains of a foot were found encased in a sock in a hiking boot that washed up in Sasamat Lake in Port Moody over the weekend. An autopsy on Monday confirmed the remains are human.

The foot is the ninth found in southwestern B.C. in the past four years. But unlike the previous eight cases, this one was found in freshwater, not saltwater, said coroner Steve Fonseca, manager of the Identification and Disaster Response Unit for the BC Coroners Service.

It is also the first to be found in a hiking boot, rather than in a running shoe.

The BC Coroners Service has positively identified six of the feet found previously as belonging to four individuals. There has been no evidence of foul play in any of those cases. The remaining two feet appear to belong to two men whose identities have not been determined.

All nine feet appear to have detached naturally, as a result of having spent a period of time in the water, officials said.

In the latest case, Fonseca said evidence suggests the foot was in the water for as long as a decade or longer. The boot is a black Cougar-brand hiking boot, men’s size 12. It has a blue interior felt lining, and the metal eyelets were significantly rusted.

The BC Coroners Service said DNA testing will be done, along with comparison of the foot with data banks of missing persons.

The autopsy did not show any toolmarks or impressions on the bones or any evidence to suggest the foot had been mechanically separated from the body. Like the others, it appears to have come off naturally as a result of having spent a long time in the water, the coroners office said.

Youth attending an outdoor camp spotted the boot on Friday floating off the northwest shore of Sasamat Lake. When the boot washed up Saturday morning and a sock and bones were found inside, authorities were called in.

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