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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Two of five feet that have washed ashore near Vancouver belonged to the same person, but Canadian police admitted on Thursday they are still a long way from solving the macabre mystery.
Investigators still do not know who any of the victims were and when or how they died, although there is no evidence in any of the cases that the feet were severed with a knife or forcibly removed from the rest of body.
"We're not ruling out any possibilities, and we have to be aware that these could be homicide victims," said Constable Annie Linteau of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, admitting they have received a wide range of theories from the public.
The first two feet were discovered in August of last year, on islands in the Strait of Georgia, with three more found this year. Four were right feet, one a left and all them were encased in running-type shoes.
Police using DNA testing determined that a left foot found in June came from the same person as the right foot found in February, but the adult male victim's name remains unknown.
The feet belonged to three men and a woman. A sixth "foot" thought to have been discovered last month turned out to be a hoax.
"We have no information to suggest that, other than the third and fifth foot, these remains are connected," Linteau told a news conference police admitted they called partly due to growing global media interest in the story.
Oceanographers suspect all the feet came from the southern Georgia Strait or northern end of Washington States Puget Sound, and investigators are trying to match the feet to a list of more than 240 missing men and 159 missing women.
The Fraser River, which collects water from much of British Columbia, empties into the strait near Vancouver.
With no evidence the feet were cut off, investigators suspect they became separated by natural decomposition as they floated in the water.
The DNA testing appears to have all but ruled out one popular local theory: that the feet belong to four men missing since their airplane crashed near the northern end of the Strait in 2005.
What little information police have been able to garner comes from the shoes themselves, whose manufacturing dates can be determined, but in one case it has also added somewhat to the mystery.
The first shoe discovered was made in 2003 but of a brand sold almost exclusively in India. Vancouver has a large Indian immigrant population, and it may have been resold in Canada in a secondhand store, investigators said.
Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Frank McGurty