Friday, August 24, 2012

Confirmation Bias

In what seems to tragically echo too many other stories from Canada, the news is reporting that "A severed human head and foot have been discovered in a park near Toronto."

We've been reporting on cases of human feet washing ashore in western Canada for sometime now (see our previous posts here).

Now this particular case is, it should be noted, over 2600 miles from the feet that have been washing up on the Canadian shores.

So what's the link?

We have, as I keep saying over and over, given up speculating on source of the feet that keep washing up on Canada. Is it a mass murder? Is it weird drift patterns? Is it an area drawing suicide victims? These are questions others can ponder. We've given up.

But wait--I do have a new theory to consider involving this most recent news.

With highly publicized "events", there's always the possibility of copy-cat crimes. In the case of the Canadian feet, for example, there was at least once case of someone stuffing dead animal feet into a pair of shoes and leaving on the beach. Sick--but that's the kind of stuff that clog up the search for patterns.

What I'd like to ponder here, however, is the possibility that the media are making unrelated events seem related. A sort of selected attention. An unusual pattern starts--severed feet washing up on beaches--and then people start looking for more cases, further confirmation of the pattern. It's in our nature.

I'm perfectly guilty in perpetuating this right now. Surely this case has nothing to do with what's happened 2600+ miles away. But once we start looking for further evidence of the pattern, we start to focus on the similarities and not the differences of new pieces of evidence. Take the case of the severed body parts found in Montreal. That also, almost certainly, had nothing to do with the feet washed ashore. But once you start looking for the pattern, the pattern seems to stretch itself up more and more events...

So what do you think? Confirmation bias -- or a series of grisly connected events?


  1. I'd say the body parts in Toronto are not related to Magnotta, although it could be a copy cat, I suppose. Neither are related to the feet out west, I'd think. Whether those floating feet are themselves related, hard to say. I'm puzzled on that one.

    I remember your post "Smiley Face Killers"....wasn't that one of the first posts about the feet? In an early interview Magnotta said he dated another known killer, Karla something or other, and I had a chill of recognition, I remembered that post and wondered, "What if there is an underground collective of serial killers?" Police believe this dating scenario is just another product of a mythomaniac, and I have no reason to doubt this. I suppose this is a sign of confirmation bias. I could believe the police are lying, and connect Magnotta to Karla, to the feet, to the smiley faces...etc.

    BTW, this quote seems a bit like "man playing ukelele" to me: “Without a cause of death we can’t call it homicide, but certainly foul play — there’s definitely something amiss,” said Cowan.

    The quote is from Randy (another word for horny) Cowan (masonic nomenclature for non-Masons). Haha.

    Apparently severed hands have been found as well, but since the 18th, the news seems silent. The body was quite decomposed, so it could possibly have been Magnotta after all, but that's totally idle speculation at this point....

    1. I should add that that later specualtion is highly unlikely, as the foot was not skeletal....

  2. Sad to report the victim was a young mother of three, Guang Hua Liu. Her killer was recently-estranged boyfriend Chun Qi Jiang. She was apparently planning to return to China with her ex-husband and sons. Terrible shit.


    In 2004 body of Cecilia Zhang was found in this park 5 months after going missing. Her murderer was a Chinese student named Min Chen. (As was Magnotta's victim Lin Chun, if you'll recall).

    Now dig this, Chen was defended by a guy named John Rosen, who'd previously defended John Peraldo, a serial rapist and murderer, crimes he'd committed with wife...Karla Homolka. I made a mistake earlier...Magnotta denied dating her; it was the police who claimed it. I'd stated Magnotta made the claim and the police doubted him, but obviously I got it backwards.


    Weird, eh? The lawyer connection, the ethnic/student angle, the dismemberment. It's either coincidence or confirmation bias, but it could also have some copy-cat elements on the part of Chun Qi Jiang. Min Chen just seems to have botched a kidnapping attempt.

  3. Woman's torso found floating near Niagara Falls

    Police said the latest case is not related to body parts found in Toronto earlier in August.

    1. Zonks! Wanna double-check that link, D?

    2. Fixed!!

      Which reminds me, one of your links in this post is wonky! :) (link #3)

    3. "....over 2600 miles from the feet that have been washing up on the Canadian shores."

      This is your broken link, Gid. I'd fix it but I dunno where ya wannit....

    4. Thanks--should be working now!

    5. Well, this is just a terrible development: Police say torso belongs to missing Niagara Falls, N.Y., mom

      Loretta Jo Gates, 30, was a mother of 3. :(

  4. Guang Hua Liu is murdered and dismembered, but her torso hasn't been found. On. Sept. 1 I linked to an article about a torso found floating near Niagara Falls, but not Liu's.

    Now we have this: Human torso found in suitcase pulled from Lake Ontario

    Police are looking into a link with the Liu case, and that of the Niagara torso as well, I'd imagine.

    So what's up with Canada and floating body parts anyway?


  5. News
    World news

    Human remains discovered off Toronto shore of Lake Ontario

    Police notify authorities investigating murder of Liu Guanghua, whose remains were found scattered around the city last month

    Police in Canada have found a badly decomposed torso in a suitcase in Lake Ontario off Toronto and have notified authorities investigating the murder of a woman whose remains were found scattered around the city last month.

    Toronto police detective Les Dunkley said two boaters spotted the suitcase and brought it to shore, where police opened it. Dunkley said police could not say who the victim is or what gender the body is until they get autopsy results. An autopsy had not yet been scheduled.

    In last month's case, Liu Guanghua's head, foot and hands were discovered in a river west of Toronto. A few days later, her two calves, a thigh and an arm were found in a creek in eastern Toronto. Her torso was not found. Her estranged boyfriend was charged with murder last month.

    Dunkley said he was not able to say why police in Canada have found so many dismembered remains this summer. Last week, a woman's torso was found at the base of Niagara Falls. Police have ruled out any connection between that case and Liu's.

    The cases have received extra attention because of the accusations against porn actor Luka Magnotta that he dismembered a Chinese student in Montreal and mailed his body parts to political parties and a school earlier this year.

    Police have said the more recent cases have no connection with that one.

    1. Apparently, the torso in the suitcase belonged to Guang Hua Liu. Like the woman from Niagara, she was a mother of three. Very strange coincidence.

      Terrible shit.

  6. Have you heard of the Morgan affair? Morgan was a guy in Batavia, NY who applied to be a Mason and was rejected. Angered, he set about publishing a book to reveal Masonic secrets. His office was set ablaze (an attempt to do so was made) and on Sept. 11 1826 he was arrested. Some unknown guy paid his bail, he was taken to Fort Niagara and then never heard from again. Even pro-Masons agree he was probably drowned in the Niagara River. A large anti-Masonic movement followed, and even ran candidates for the presidency.

    Now, the dismembered body of Gates was found in the Niagara River and the body of Guang Hua Liu was found in Lake Ontario in the vicinity, at least relative vicinity given the Lake's size.

    A badly decomposed body washed up on shore a month or so after the Morgan disappearance, a body whose clothes were identified as those of a missing Canadian man by his widow; Morgan's widow, identified the body as her husband. The Masons claimed they paid him off to skip town. So, if it was Morgan, he wasn't dismembered.

    Interestingly, Masonic oaths describe hideous penalties for violating Masonic secrecy, all of which involve dismemberment of some form and at least one of which involved being disposed of in the water. (I'll let you hunt them down).

    So, no conspiracy theorying going on here, just interesting precedent for a very famous historical murder (?) involving Masons with very important repercussions, tangentially involving dismemberment and specifically involving death and the water.

    Also, I just learned, not one but two dismembered bodies were found floating in the Detroit River back in July. A man has been arrested in that case. The female victim was his ex and the male her fiancé. So, before the arrest, this would have been too weird. But it does represent an interesting, and sad, cluster of similar cases. Detroit not so far from Toronto.

    Gid, you should work you magic and put all this together in a proper post/timeline. Or I should.

  7. Whoa--lot to unpack here! A good old fashioned timeline would be a great right-brained meditative activity for me, but I'll confess that it may be hard for me to find the time.

    If you aren't hopping on it, let's both keep plugging in updates/thoughts here to help guide a future post/timeline.

    By the way, there was a tragic office shooting here in Minneapolis the other day.

    1. That's sad. I wonder why he singled out some and spared others? Harassers versus sympathizers or some other more insane "logic"? Terrible shit.

      Anyway, I'm not hopping on it, but I'll just do as you suggest with updates for an ecventual future post. If another case like this happens, it's definitely an eyebrow raiser. It is already, actually, but still within the realm of coincicidence. The last victim may be the victim of a copycat, as the first cases have separate killers with their own, weird motivations....


Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Need to add an image? Use this code: [ximg]IMAGE-URL-HERE[x/img]. You will need to remove the the boldface x's from the code to make it work.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.