The mysterious disappearance of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon has haunted Panama for nearly a decade. But by no means is their cause of death clear.
On April 1, 2014, Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22, both from the Netherlands, embarked on a 5- to 6-hour hike near Boquete, close to the Panamanian Continental Divide. Kris and Lisanne came to Panama to learn Spanish and assist with local kids as volunteers. However, they would never make it out of Panama alive.
The family’s Dutch private investigators were convinced that foul play was probably involved when their remains were discovered two months later in odd circumstances. The authorities claimed it was an accident. But the Panamanian authorities’ narrative had many flaws, and they said that the two women had fallen over a cable bridge and were swept away by a river.
There are several theories as to what happened. With disturbing photographic documentation of their final moments, lots of unsolved questions, and the enigmatic missing picture #509. In the years following their tragic deaths, numerous ideas have raged throughout online forums. But despite its formal conclusions, the case still raises issues.
The Mysterious Disappearance of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon
Dutch students Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22, boarded a plane at Amsterdam Airport on March 15, 2014, to fly to Costa Rica in Latin America for a graduation trip they had been saving up for. From there, they made their way to Panama’s Bocas del Toro.
They spent some time on the coast conversing in Spanish, taking in the local cuisine, and meeting two Dutch tourists who were also passing through. On March 29, just two weeks after arriving in Panama, they relocated to the western town of Boquete.
About 37 miles (60 km) from the Costa Rican border, in Panama’s westernmost Province of Chiriqu, is the little mountain village of Boquete. It is located in the lush mountain highlands of Panama, on the Caldera River.
Its elevation of 3900 feet (1,200 meters) above sea level results in a milder temperature than the lowlands. It is favored by Panamanians and draws tourists and retirees from all over the world thanks to its picturesque position, temperate climate, and natural surroundings.
In September 2013, Lisanne had just earned her degree in Applied Sciences, while Kris pursued a degree in Cultural Social Education.
The two Amersfoort, Netherlands, natives met each other while working at the In Den Kleinen Hop restaurant in Amsterdam, where they each had rooms to rent in a student residence. To celebrate Lisanne’s graduation, they worked together for six months to save money for a trip to Panama.
On March 15, 2014, they arrived in Panama for a six-week vacation, of which four were to be spent residing with a host family while they worked as volunteers in Boquete, instructing local youngsters at the school and studying Spanish.
But instead of the instant start they had anticipated, Lisanne and Kris were informed when they arrived at their host family’s home that their duties would begin in a week. As a result, they decided to use the time while waiting for their work to start exploring the area around Boquete.
How Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon Disappeared on the La Pianista Trail
They departed Boquete in good weather in mid-morning on April 1, 2014, to trek the La Pianista trail, which has an uphill and downward gradient. They took a taxi to the trailhead, where they were to begin their 8-kilometer walk to the summit.
The data from the ladies’ video revealed that it was closer to 11 am than the driver, who claimed it was mid-afternoon. It was a 5- to 6-hour round trip since it should take a decently fit individual 2.5 to 3 hours to reach the summit.
They had posted on Facebook about seeing the region and having brunch the following morning with other Dutch travelers. They left the village with a dog that they had taken with them.
With only light attire (tank tops and shorts), a small rucksack carrying their passports, a water bottle, a Canon Powershot SX270 digital camera, some cash (about $80), and their smartphones (an iPhone and Samsung Galaxy), they started the walk.
The terrain beyond the trail is exceptionally rough, steep, and dangerous, especially during the wet season from April to October, when even the local Ngobe tribe treads carefully. The trail crosses 70-foot-deep, steep river gorges as it travels from Chiriqu to the province of Bocas del Toro.
Cable bridges are required to cross these gorges.
Around 1 pm, Kris and Lisanne arrived at the summit and decided to go further. The Pianista trail’s panel has a viewing point where most visitors will turn around and return to Boquete by the same route.
Nowadays, signs are posted here cautioning travelers to only go with a guide due to the hazardous terrain ahead. They may have believed they still had time to walk towards a waterfall farther into the jungle after researching the online trail days before the journey.
They lacked the necessary supplies for an extended stay in the jungle without food or other means of support. Hikers who intend to venture into more challenging terrain typically pay guides and bring specialized gear and enough food and supplies to last for several days, including tents and rainproof clothes.
Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon Missing Case
The dog owners were startled later that evening, on April 1, when their dog came home without either of the two people.
The family they were living with and a local guide who was supposed to accompany them to a neighboring national park on April 2 became worried. Two days later, on April 3, the women were reported missing.
Authorities dispatched helicopters and dog teams after they were reported missing, but initial efforts to find them, even with the assistance of locals, were unsuccessful.
The parents of Kris and Lisanne flew to Boquete on April 6 to begin a more extensive search that lasted an additional ten days and involved professional search and rescue teams as well as sniffer dogs.
Dutch detectives accompanied them. There was, however, still no evidence of the women or their things. The parents also offered a $30,000 prize.
Lisanne had complained of having trouble breathing to her host family. Her capacity to survive the journey may have been hampered by her asthma, altitude change, and terror brought on by getting lost.
Their backpack was discovered ten weeks later, in June 2014, by a local lady in a rice field on the Culebra or Serpent river’s bank close to the community of Alta Romero, around 10.5 miles (17 km) from Boquete and 5 miles (8 km) from the trail’s peak.
The settlement was in a highly isolated place that would have been challenging to get on foot, and it was estimated that it was around an 8-hour walk from their last known location.
At the same time, a pair of jeans belonging to Kris Kremers was found on a small plot of ground between two streams with strong currents. The Ngobe people allegedly discovered the shorts. They were folded, zipped, and perched on a rock above the sea.
The pack was taken from the woman by police from the Justice Department using a helicopter. They guessed that it had dragged itself to the area in the river. But despite spending weeks in the forest or river, the backpack contents were dry and unharmed, and the bag appeared to be in good shape.
The finder added that she was confident the pack had been out of the area the day before. Since the place had just seen much rain, it made sense that everything would be very wet, indicating that it had been left there until being discovered.
The items retrieved did not include Lisanne’s asthma inhaler. According to the investigators, thirty-four distinct fingerprints were found on the items, with thirteen being on the bag. The backpack contained some DNA, but none provided the authorities with solid leads.
When the contents of the backpack were checked, Lisanne’s Canon Powershot SX270 camera with more than a hundred photographs on the digital memory card, together with the passports, cell phones, sunglasses, cash, and their bras, was found.
The Disappearance of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon: Missing Picture 509
Only one mysterious picture, IMG #509, needed to be included in the 133 consecutive pictures discovered. Investigators could only determine or infer the location of the images based on the visible surroundings because the camera has no GPS location feature.
The initial photos taken on April 1 were typical tourist images of the two women laughing and grinning on a sunny, warm day, with several selfies taken at the Divide’s overlook. Lisanne took most of the photos while Kris followed her on the route.
The girls may then be seen traveling away from their intended destination of Boquete on what appears to be an indigenous trail near a creek or stream bed. In one of the photos, anxiety can be seen on Kris’ face as the rainforest sunsets at 6:40 pm.
Lisanne and Kris’s final photograph is IMG #508. However, there are two versions of photo #508: one indicates in its metadata that it was taken 8 seconds after photo #507. In contrast, a different version of the same photo suggests that this final picture of Kris gazing backward was taken 50 seconds before the image of her passing the creek.
This oddity can be the result of photo tampering. After the final stream picture #508 was taken on April 1, no more daytime pictures were taken; perhaps they attempted to return to Boquete at this time but were stopped.
Dutch experts have attempted to recover the missing image, which is typically not tricky when an image is manually destroyed because clicking the “delete” button does not truly obliterate the entire file.
However, experts could not locate the missing image, and it seems improbable that the camera could accidentally skip a number when taking pictures. Did someone attach the camera to a computer and delete the image so it couldn’t be recovered?
Perhaps the females manually erased this particular image, and the following pictures permanently overwrote the deleted file. But when a manually deleted photo is replaced with a fresh one, there is typically at least some remnant of the deleted photo left, so seeing none is, at the very least suspicious or perplexing.
The Panamanian authorities may have removed photo #509 because it included information they didn’t want the public to see. Its content may have conflicted with the controversial accident theory put forth by the Panamanian police. Will the image ever be found? Never. It’s truly lost.
Investigators in the Netherlands were essentially satisfied that #509 had been purposefully and permanently removed, most likely with the aid of a computer, for an unspecified reason.
It may be a significant image given its position between the typical daytime photographs taken on April 1 and the mystery night photographs taken on April 8.
Investigators did not discover any deleted images from the holiday shots the two women took while on vacation. In addition, there was still a tonne of room on the memory card. Around this time, the first calls to emergency services began. Possible coincidence, but unlikely.
The disappearance of Kris and Lisanne was covered on the Travel Channel’s “Lost in the Wild – Hike into Hell.”
The presenters, Kinga Philipps and J.J. Kelley, demonstrated in an easy-to-understand way that Kris and Lisanne would never have realized that photo #509 had been destroyed because the following image (the first nighttime photo) would have automatically received photo number #509.
Ninety shots taken on April 8 between 1:00 am and 4:00 am, many of which were taken in total darkness with rain falling, were the oddest photos on the camera and arguably the most interesting.
Others were taken up to 15 minutes later, and some were taken only a few seconds apart. Since some photos weren’t blurry and weren’t born under duress, they look to have been taken on purpose. The girls had been in the rainforest for a week at this point.
Internet sleuths have conjectured that the women may have been attempting to use the camera as a light source in the total darkness, to signal prospective rescuers, or even to frighten away wild animals. However, a closer look at the photos reveals that many of them were taken in the shade, not in the open; if the women had attempted to draw attention, they would have taken pictures in the open.
A single close-up reveals blood on Kris’ hair and a laceration to the right side of her skull near the temple. If Lisanne had to be left behind due to injuries, she might have been utilizing the camera to provide future rescuers hints about Kris’s location.
While some photos look upward, others reveal canyons, ravines, and artificial structures most likely to be precarious cable bridges, especially in the rain. One image appears to depict a bridge on the western side of a tributary that serves as the Culebra River’s headwaters, three miles from Boquete.
As many survival guides advise, were the girls attempting to follow the river downstream?
Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon’s Phone Calls
Kris’ iPhone’s call history was examined, revealing that at 16:39 on the day they vanished, April 1, she attempted to contact Dutch emergency services by dialing emergency number 112. Then a 911 call was made to a Panamanian emergency number.
Their calls weren’t connected because of the bad reception. The Dutch emergency number 112 is likewise functional in Panama and, if it isn’t, switches to the local emergency number of the nation where the phone network is located.
They then shut down their phones and made several calls on April 2 after 14 hours had passed. These calls were made using both phones, one connected at 6.58 in the morning.
Only a few milliseconds passed when Lisanne’s Samsung joined to the 112 number before the call was disconnected, and 36 seconds later, the phone was turned off. Despite numerous attempts, they were never successful in establishing a connection.
Lisanne’s Samsung phone stopped operating on April 6, five days into their trip, most likely because the battery died. Kris’ iPhone was powered up again on April 11 at 10.51, when it was turned on for 1 hour and 5 minutes. The last time the iPhone was used was at this moment.
When Lisanne’s Samsung battery failed on day 6, someone attempted to access Kris’ iPhone, but the PIN was entered incorrectly (the code was 0556). Between April 7 and April 10, 77 alleged attempts to access the phone were attempted.
Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon’s Bodies are Discovered
Shortly before June 19, 2014, a local guide and six local Ngobe people discovered the backpack, along with some bone fragments, jeans shorts, and two pairs of shoes.
On top of a rock on the opposite bank of the river, at least eight walking hours from Boquete, the pair of jeans shorts were discovered 14 hours after the bag. Some witnesses asserted that they found the jeans shorts floating in the river, not neatly folded.
The bones were discovered on June 19, distant from the river and near Alto Romero, beneath a tree. The left foot of Lisanne Froon was found intact and in her Wildebeast boot, displaying several metatarsal fractures. A match was eventually confirmed through DNA tests.
The foot still had some skin and flesh, and the laces were tightly tied. There was also a sock inside the boot.
According to forensic examination, the foot’s severed bone was unexpectedly clean, no blood was discovered there, and there were no indications of cutting, hacking, bullets, teeth, or claw imprints.
Along the same riverside, a few miles from the cable bridge and dry river stones where some researchers believe the midnight images may have been shot, at least 33 scattered bones, mainly from a left leg, were also found.
Few other remnants were discovered, and those recovered were dispersed and often found miles away from one another but in the same general direction as the river. Additionally, a shattered pelvic bone fragment that belonged to Kris was discovered.
Later, Lisanne’s femur upper leg bone and maybe her tibia bone was discovered, together with Kris’s no. 10 right rib bone and her ribcage.
Investigators also discovered a rolled-up ball of skin from Lisanne’s shin later on August 29, 2014. According to the forensic pathologist, the skin was later found to be in an early stage of decomposition and even to have maggots.
The pathologist also discovered that Lisanne’s femur and tibia bones’ bone marrow was dry and undecomposed, in contrast to Kris’ completely bleached and pristine bones. The bone marrow was unaffected and in good shape. The forensic pathologist suspected that the skin fragment might have been altered.
The official explanation offered by the Panamanian authorities is that the women both fell off monkey bridges and were swept away by the roaring river. Initially, neither the Dutch nor the Panamanian forensic experts could determine a cause of death.
What Happened to Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon?
The Dutch police concluded that the fatalities were probably accidents. Still, certain Panamanian police officers and Dutch private investigators were adamant that the killings might have resulted from foul play in light of some particular evidence uncovered.
The case was initially formally classified by Panama’s attorney general as “a homicide” and “a crime against personal integrity” in the Chiriqu Judicial State report. Still, later in October 2014, two forms from the Panamanian State officials classified the deaths as abduction cases.
The investigation was closed and labeled an accident when Panamanian forensic investigators could not reach a firm and official verdict. They thought Lisanne and Kris had decided to push on into the rugged terrain near the Continental Divide and had died in the jungle.
The incident was reportedly a straightforward case of getting lost. Kris fell. First, Lisanne attended to her, photographed her remains in the dark, and continued until she too fell, broke her ankle and foot, possibly fell into the river, and eventually passed away from exhaustion, hunger, and the elements.
Doctor Frank van de Goot, a Dutch pathologist, was skeptical about this justification. He stated: “It is impossible to get lost. You don’t require a guide.” Regarding the official idea that the girls fell over a monkey bridge and were swept away, Van de Goot said: “No way. Never would they ride it.”
Frank commented on the weird evening images on the camera “Yes. I saw them. They’re spooky. The Blair Witch Project are they. The guides refer to that area of the jungle as “jungle hell.” Up here, past the Continental Divide, people perish. There is no issue when you are outside throughout the day. It’s over once you’re outside in the pitch black. The cable bridges are hidden from view. You’re a full mortal on that bridge; I’m a mountaineer.”
At first glance, it seems as though the perilous and challenging conditions in the jungle of Panama caused the deaths of both ladies. Was there, however, a more nefarious factor at work here?
First of all, it seemed odd that one of their bags had been discovered far away from the river without any signs of water damage. However, why hadn’t the valuables been taken if there had been harm?
They might have encountered drug dealers or been taunted by rapists or murderers who merely wanted to make the police look bad.
A tragic scenario indeed, with Lisanne and Kris’ vacation in Panama having a dreadful final few days.
Unsolved Questions Regarding Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon’s Disappearance
Whom did Lisanne Froon’s camera’s data wipe, and why? What became of image 509?
Why won’t the national authorities of Panama release the complete autopsy of the girls?
Why haven’t they pursued the clues from their forensic investigators, the Chiriqu police department, and neighborhood journalists? Or started a detailed inquiry into the nearby unsolved murders and incidents involving missing persons?
Why do we need to find out who left their fingerprints on the phones and digital cameras? Fingerprint analysis might be used to determine who made the most recent 911 and 112 calls, which is the information we need to know.
What about the water leftovers in the water bottle? Were the water molecules in the little plastic bottle from the water you may buy at the store? Or was it a local river’s water? Or was it last filled with local tap water?
Why didn’t DNA samples from possible saliva remnants get taken?
The girls were known for being thorough planners and had advised other young people in Bocas del Toro not to go hiking in the countryside alone. So why did they opt to trek alone in the wilderness themselves? (Perhaps because Lonely Planet advertised it as merely a “nice day walk”) Or perhaps they weren’t alone?
Why was Blue, the dog reported to have walked alongside them, never to be found in any of their pictures?
After making their first emergency call, why didn’t the girls go back?
How could they have fallen into a river 12 hours distant if they ran into problems early in the trip, as shown by their emergency calls?
According to the location of their remains, Kris and Lisanne may have ended up in one of the numerous wooden sheds or tiny wooden huts located along the river and across the surrounding area. If they were truly lost, why wouldn’t they have sheltered there? Awaiting the arrival of the rescue crews?
Why do all the witnesses’ comments conflict with the photo timing evidence?
Why has the precise location of the 90 images taken at night yet to be thoroughly looked into and determined?
Why do so many witnesses’ claims about when they saw the girls on April 1 seem inaccurate?
Why aren’t we aware of what time they were still in Boquete on April 1 because the video recordings of them on that day in Boquete have never been made public or even wholly investigated?
How, in a world where Ngobe people regularly traverse the mountain paths with their livestock, could they end themselves “lost” on a one-way, simple track?
Why were there no reports of drug- and gang warfare in Boquete in 2014, where at least 15 local gangs were fighting for dominance?
When at least five photographs later surfaced and revealed a clear landscape when the photo settings were significantly changed, how could Dutch forensics conclude that the 90 nighttime photos were all dark? Actually, why do they and the families make things up?
Why are the remaining 85 or so nighttime photographs so well guarded, and why do officials and family members object to their release, saying that they, too, depict “nothing but blackness” (a lie)?
Why have all of the pictures on the camera memory card yet to be given to us?
How come no one was able to recover even a tiny portion of photo 509, even though this is typical when an image is destroyed manually?
Without a watch or other way to keep track of the time in the jungle, how did Kris and Lisanne turn their phones on so consistently and at predetermined times?
Why did the girls stop taking pictures or even making films for eight days and nights after April 1?
Why did they never attempt to contact their local host family or parents at home?
Why were no unsent letters or other indications of their loved ones’ well-being returned?
How come the girls didn’t appear to have memorized each other’s mobile pin codes after spending (allegedly) 5 days alone in the wild?
Because Lisanne’s Samsung phone only attempted to call the two emergency numbers, which could be reached without inputting a PIN code, it is still being determined whether the correct PIN code was ever entered on that device.
Why would they cross two significant rivers that led further into the woods if they were lost and knew this? (Because their bones were discovered in an area where those rivers had to be crossed.)
Why didn’t anyone find them if they were lost for 11 days despite locals living nearby, many people frequented the region behind the Pianista, and there were many searchers?
Why is the spot where they allegedly fell and “perished” never disclosed to us?
Where is the ravine that has photographic evidence of their corpses, pieces of clothing, or even the marks on their shoes? Additionally, could the rescue teams explain why they were never located there despite weeks of exhaustive searches and a team leader announcing they were not there as every stone was turned?
Why did the prosecutor claim that the girls were dragged into the river to die when the pathologists claim that the bones bear no evidence of any abrasion or injury markings?
What was the actual cause of the taxi driver’s passing?
Was Osman Valenzuela killed, or did he pass away accidentally? And is it true that he had images of women that matched Kris and Lisanne’s descriptions on his phone?
Why did Lisanné’s foot break off at the ankle, and why did Kris’ bone fragments get white while Lisanné’s foot still had flesh on it?
Why did one of Kris’ bones have bleach on it?
Aside from the few tiny bones discovered, where are all of their other remains?
Why were their dispersed bones discovered so far from the Pianista trail’s summit?
How is it possible that the cheap backpack was allegedly floating in a “wild river” for weeks, but the electronics inside were undamaged and in perfect working condition? And the inexpensive sunglasses inside were in excellent condition.
Why hadn’t the bag’s contents decomposed, and why were they in such good condition if they had been submerged in water?
Was the bag a planted object? Such suggestions are described as “without substance” and “irresponsible” by prosecutor Pitti. The Panama News
Why were their bras folded neatly and stored in their suitcase, and how did Kris’s pants shorts slip off? As some reports indicate, did they go swimming after their hike to the Pianista, and is it why they folded up their bras and shorts voluntarily?
Whose shoe in blue was discovered?
Why were their underwear and shorts never recovered?
Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon’s Missing Picture Found?
Jose Manuel Murgas, Leonardo Arturo Gonzalez Mastinu, and Osman Valenzuela are three individuals who are rumored to have been with Kris and Lisanne. Unfortunately, they died in mysterious circumstances soon after the girls’ remains were found.
A few days after the girls were reported missing, Osman vanished. Later, it was discovered that he had drowned to death (though there is some speculation that this was a homicide). The “swimming photo,” where much of the suspicion about the girls’ deaths originates, allegedly was on his phone.
The following year, Jose was killed in a hit-and-run accident. He had worked alongside Osman.
The females were reportedly driven to the Pianista Trailhead by Leonardo, the taxi driver. The year after, he was likewise discovered dead by drowning.
It should be emphasized that the identity of Kris and Lisanne in the swimming photo’ has yet to be confirmed.
There is no proof that these people were involved in the girls’ disappearance, despite the possibility that they were connected (Osman and Jose were allegedly members of a teenage gang).
RIP Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon.
Next, read about the Terrible Punishment from Medieval Times: Immurement, and after that, read the true horror story of Robert Pickton: The Man Who Butchered Girls and Hung Them In A Barn!
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