While out walking her dog, Katie Wilkinson spotted something rather odd-looking in a muddy field.
The 26-year-old from Winlaton, Gateshead, came across what she believed was a “human toe” sticking out of the ground.
She was walking a different route than usual and was keeping a close eye on the wet mud so as not to slip over when she noticed something “striking” in the dirt.
She decided to get a closer look and snapped a photo to show others to see what they thought it was.
Everyone she showed the picture to was quick to agree the mysterious item looked just like a toe, so once home, Katie decided to call the police and report it.
She called 101 and within five minutes a police car pulled up outside her front door.
Katie took officers to the location where she’d found the ‘toe’ and they began to investigate.
More police officers, sergeants and detectives arrived on the scene and she had to show the photo she’d taken to each of them.
A detective agreed it did look like a toe, but after hours of searching and no results, sniffer dogs were brought in and they soon discovered it wasn’t a human body part at all.
It was just a potato.
Speaking about the ordeal, Katie said: “While walking I saw something sticking out from the ground and I immediately thought it looked like a toe.
“I bent down to get a bit closer and to take a photo.
“I thought surely it can’t be a toe, it must just be a really weird looking plant or something. I continued on my walk and made my way back home.
“I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was just going round and round in my head that it could have been a toe. It could have been severed from someone’s foot or it could still be attached to a body.
“I got home and bathed Phoebe, I then looked at the photograph I had taken again and I was convinced it was a toe. I sent it to all of my friends and family and asked what they thought it was. I also wanted to make sure I wasn’t being daft.
“Every single person replied saying that it was definitely a toe.”
She continued: “That confirmed it to me and I decided I needed to ring the police. I called 101 and told them that I had found a toe sticking out of the ground.
“After I made the call and they said someone was on their way, I started crying and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was really scared.
“I called my mum to let her know what was happening and she even got sent home early from work because everyone thought I had found a body.”
“When I arrived I had to explain and show the picture to all the police officers that were there. Then everyone began searching, I was walking in and out and around the field trying to find it again. It had gone from where I had found it.
“During the search, more and more people kept arriving. More police officers, sergeants and detectives. Every time a group of new people arrived I had to show the picture and explain what had happened. All of the police, the sergeants and the detective thought it was a toe too.
“After about two hours of searching in the pitch black through the muddy field, it was decided to get bring in some sniffer dogs to help with the search.
“I just felt full of sheer panic and fear. There were two dogs and their handlers, about seven police cars, loads of police officers, two detectives and few sergeants at the scene now. I felt like I was in a murder documentary.
“The dogs were sent into the field and within 45 minutes they had found what I had thought was a toe. One of the sergeants walked over to me and said ‘is this your toe?’
“He then held out his hand which was holding a potato. I immediately felt so embarrassed. I couldn’t believe I had wasted all their time for a potato.
“I was so apologetic. I just kept repeating that I was so sorry for wasting their time. I felt awful. They reassured me that I had done the right thing.”
She added: “The detective said ‘I even thought it was a toe, and I am a detective.’ This made me feel better and reassured me that I was not going mad by thinking I had found a toe.
“Although I was mortified, I was so relieved that it was a potato. I don’t know how I would’ve dealt with it if it had been a toe or if it had been attached to a body.”
A spokesperson from Northumbria Police commented: “Shortly before 5pm on 5 January we received a report of a suspected body found in the West Lane area of Winlaton.
It was reported by a member of the public that they had found what they believed to be a partially buried foot.
“Officers attended the scene but it transpired that the discovery was in fact a potato, which had been mistaken as a toe.