VANCOUVER, British Columbia – British Columbia's coroner's office called the discovery of a sixth floating human foot a hoax, saying Thursday it was really an animal paw stuffed inside a running shoe.
At first, Wednesday's discovery seemed to deepen the mystery surrounding the feet, all found floating along island shorelines in the Strait of Georgia near Vancouver.
But the coroner's office called the latest find a hoax, saying a animal's skeletonized foot had been inserted inside the shoe.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say whoever is behind the hoax could face charges.
"Who ever is responsible for this took the time to ensure that the remains were set up to closely resemble human remains," RCMP Insp. Brendan FitzPatrick said.
FitzPatrick said the fact someone would go to such lengths for the hoax is disturbing.
"Due to the nature of these incidents over the past year, many families with missing loved ones are closely watching and wondering if it is their loved one who has been found. The insensitivity shown to the families and the victims involved is unbelievable," he said.
The feet all were recovered within a few miles of each other along island shorelines in the Strait of Georgia, which lies to the south and west of the city of Vancouver.
Authorities say they haven't reached any conclusions about the origin of the five human feet.
The sixth find was determined a hoax after an examination by a forensic pathologist and an anthropologist.
While the sixth case is now closed, chief coroner Terry Smith's office continues work to identify the other feet.
He said this week that DNA profiles from the first three feet have not helped to determine identities because they have not matched any existing samples.
Smith and others have suggested that the feet didn't sink but floated to shore because they were encased in buoyant running shoes.