How 21 feet washing up on Canadian shores may provide clue in Caddick case

How 21 feet washing up on Canadian shores may provide clue in Caddick case

March 1, 2021

The baffling discovery 400kms from Sydney of a running shoe containing human remains since confirmed to be those of Melissa Caddick, has raised doubts about the likelihood of a shoe having drifted so far.

However, a possible explanation has come as a result of an extraordinary phenomenon in Canada.

Melissa Caddick’s foot was found on Bournda Beach.Credit:SMG, Angi High

For years Canadians were mystified by at least 21 disembodied feet which washed up along the British Columbian coast.

“Really large numbers of individual feet washed up on beaches of the west coast of Canada, British Columbia and the adjoining US state of Washington,” Dr Matthew Orde, a forensic pathologist with the University of British Columbia, told the Herald.

In 2017, a decade after the first shoe washed up, a Canadian coronial investigation into the mystery of the washed-up feet ruled out foul play. Authorities concluded that the feet came from people who were killed either in accidents or by suicide, and the feet detached during the normal decomposition process.

Dr Orde said that scientists now believe that the construction of the modern running shoe provides both protection and buoyancy enabling the foot to travel greater distances than would be normally expected. He said the decomposing feet were often found “many, many miles” from where they first entered the water.

“One of the theories is that those running shoes, by virtues of the air pockets in them, are quite buoyant,” Dr Orde said.

It comes as scepticism mounts within police circles as to the time and manner of the Dover Heights woman’s death.

Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said on Friday that modelling of tides and drift patterns by police indicated that it was possible that Ms Caddick’s remains could have drifted to Bournda Beach, neat Tathra.

Campers made the gruesome find of her ASICS running shoe at the remote beach on Sunday, 21 February. DNA testing later confirmed the remains were those of Ms Caddick who disappeared from her Dover Heights home in mid-November, only hours after Federal Police had executed a search warrant on behalf of the corporate watchdog ASIC.

Missing Sydney business woman Melissa Caddick’s shoe and foot were found on a South Coast beach.Credit:Seven News

Ms Caddick, 49, was alleged to have stolen in excess of $20 million from investors, which she used to maintain her own lavish lifestyle.

One of those expressing reservations about Ms Caddick’s presumed time of death was Superintendent Joe McNulty, Commander of the NSW Marine Command. “Something in the water for that long, say a bit of flotsam or jetsam that washes onto the shore, has got green growth on it,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

Superintendent McNulty also said that the shoe did not appear to have been in the water for three months and that it was “really irregular for bodies that may have entered the ocean at the Gap or Dover Heights to end up on the south coast.”

“Feet don’t float,” said Professor Jo Duflou, a former long-term forensic pathologist with the NSW Coroner and now at Sydney University. But depending on the footwear, he said that a running shoe might provide protection from the elements.

However, Professor Duflou expressed surprise that the shoe was found so far from Sydney and that in most cases other body parts might be expected to be found in the same vicinity.

Professor Duflou said it was also possible that it had been taken south by a shark, either pulled along, or later regurgitated.

“Police can’t just say she’s dead based on a foot alone,” said the forensic pathologist. While it was “highly likely” Ms Caddick was deceased, a formal decision would have to be made by the coroner, he said.

Inquiries are continuing into bones and other partial remains found on the South Coast over the weekend. However, police believe they may belong to a missing snorkeller.

Crisis support can be found at Lifeline: (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467 and suicidecallbackservice.org.au) and beyondblue (1300 22 4636 and beyondblue.org.au)

Most Viewed in National

Source: Read Full Article