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panama tourist killed

Chilling photos found on missing hikers’ camera show mysterious final moments before girls vanished in Panama jungle

  • Imogen Braddick
  • Published : 8:12, 15 May 2022
  • Updated : 8:12, 15 May 2022

EERIE photos discovered on a camera belonging to two missing hikers revealed their mysterious final moments before both girls vanished in the jungle in Panama.

Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22, went for a walk through the scenic forests around the Baru volcano in Boquete - and never returned.

The girls saved up for six months for the trip to Panama

The students from Amersfoort in the Netherlands had spent six months planning their dream trip to Panama, hoping to spend some time backpacking, volunteering and learning Spanish.

The pair had been hiking around the jungle for two weeks as part of a backpacking trip - and they were planning to stay for another four weeks with their host family to volunteer at a local school.

But after they waved goodbye to the local family for a mid-morning walk on April 1, 2014, they were never seen alive again.

To this day, the disappearance and tragic deaths of Kris and Lisanne remains a harrowing mystery.

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In a mind-blowing theory, Dick Steffens, a former detective in Amsterdam, claimed Kris could still be alive after she was trafficked into the sex trade by a kidnapper roaming in the jungle.

While some believe Kris and Lisanne died in an accident, the ex-cop slammed the police investigation in Panama as shoddy and said it should be redone.

Disturbing evidence also showed there were a number of failed attempts to unlock Kris' phone - sparking another theory that Kris had died and Lisanne was frantically trying to access her phone to get help.

The alarm was initially raised about the disappearance of the girls after they missed a private walking tour of Boquete on April 2.

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A desperate search for the students was launched, with rescue workers combing through the jungle and nearby villages.

But by April 6, the girls were still missing.

Kris and Lisanne's families decided to fly out to Panama and bring Dutch detectives with them.

The jungle was searched for another ten days with the help of the cops from the Netherlands - but there was no sign of the girls.

As the search was starting to wind up, a local woman handed in a blue backpack, claiming she found it in a rice paddy along the banks of the river.

HARROWING FIND

The backpack contained two pairs of sunglasses, $83 in cash, two bras, a water bottle - and importantly, Lisanne's passport.

It also contained Lisanne's camera and both of their phones.

In a chilling discovery, 90 photos had been snapped on the camera deep in the jungle in the dead of night on April 8 between 1am and 4am - raising questions about who took the pictures.

Only a handful of the pictures retrieved from the memory card showed clear images, with most showing near-complete darkness. 

Photos released from the camera showed some of the girl's belongings scattered around the rocks

The photos showed the girls belongings spread out on rocks, along with plastic bags and candy wrappers, mounds of dirt, and a mirror.

And one of the images chillingly showed the back of Kris' head with what some sleuthes believe is blood leaking from her temple.

According to one web sleuth, the snaps taken on the camera a week after the girls vanished might have been taken with the flash to light up the path as they stumbled through the dark jungle.

But others have suggested the chilling photos might have been taken by someone else after killing the girls.

The identity of the person who took the images remains a mystery.

The students' phone records also tragically revealed how they desperately tried to call the police.

REMAINS FOUND

Over four days, 77 separate attempts had been made to call the cops - using the emergency numbers in both the Netherlands and in Panama.

Out of the dozens of calls, only one managed to connect, but broke up after just two seconds due to the lack of reception.

But the call logs gave the cops a rough outline of the time the girls spent missing in the jungle.

Both of their phones finally ran out of battery by April 11 - ten days after they disappeared.

After cops searched the area where the backpack was found, they discovered Kris' clothes neatly folded along the edge of the river.

And two months later, a pelvic bone and a foot - still inside a boot - were found in the same area, according to La Estrella de Panama .

The remains of both women were found soon after that.

Lisanne's bones appeared as if they had decomposed naturally - but Kris' bones were mysteriously stark white as if they had been bleached, raising questions about whether someone had been involved in her death.

'ACCIDENT'

Their causes of death have never been determined.

The tragic deaths of Kris and Lisanne remain a disturbing mystery.

Cops quizzed locals, tour guides and other hikers, but only the photos and call logs provided a slither of evidence as to what had happened.

However, Dutch authors Marja West and Jürgen Snoeren claim they have solved the mystery in their book Lost in The Jungle.

After taking a deep dive into all the evidence and flying out to Panama to do their own investigation, the pair concluded that the girls' deaths were an accident.

The authors told The Daily Beast : "It actually came as a surprise to us too, but our conclusion had to be that it was an accident. It took us quite some time to get there."

Snoeren had called West and told her: "With all that I’m reading now in the police file, it couldn’t be anything else… there was a certain sequence and timing to it, that had to be caused by the flash floods, typical to the region and season.

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"Those flash floods made staging scenes or strategically placing items impossible."

The mystery remains unsolved to this day, and there is still little certainty around the tragic deaths of the two Dutch students.

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Soccer player’s killing draws attention to struggles in one of Panama’s principal ports

People walk along Central Avenue in Colon, Panama, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. The Sept. 3 shooting death of national soccer team player Gilberto Hernandez in Colon has brought to light the high levels of violence in this port city where large ships move in and out of the Panama Canal. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

People walk along Central Avenue in Colon, Panama, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. The Sept. 3 shooting death of national soccer team player Gilberto Hernandez in Colon has brought to light the high levels of violence in this port city where large ships move in and out of the Panama Canal. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

Storm clouds gather overhead as cargo ships that wait to transit through the Panama Canal are anchored on Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, seen from Colon, Panama, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. Due to a lack of rainfall, authorities in early August limited the number of ships passing through the canal. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

Children play soccer in Colon, Panama, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. The Sept. 3 shooting death of national soccer team player Gilberto Hernandez in Colon has brought to light the high levels of violence in this port city where large ships move in and out of the Panama Canal. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

A man feeds pigeons on a street where Gilberto Hernandez, a member of Panama’s national soccer team, was shot and killed in Colon, Panama, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. Hernández was the second member of the national team killed in Colon in the past six years. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

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COLON, Panama (AP) — The killing of a member of Panama’s national soccer team in the rough Caribbean city of Colon has focused a light on the high levels of violence residents suffer here despite having a bustling port and one of the world’s largest free-trade zones.

While massive cargo ships enter and exit the Panama Canal here 50 miles north of the capital, Colon has wrestled for years with high levels of unemployment and crime. It has become fertile ground for gangs battling over control of drug trafficking routes.

“The gang war is costing innocent lives,” said Rafael Cañas, an evangelical pastor who is also the city of Colon’s director of citizen security. “There are a lot of hitmen too because of the lack of jobs and opportunities.”

Defender Gilberto Hernández, 26, was shot Sunday afternoon while hanging out with friends in front of the apartment building where his mother lives beside a Catholic church. Gunmen riding in a taxi opened fire on the group, killing Hernández and wounding seven others.

Police arrested a suspect early Monday, but have not spoken of a possible motive.

A day after the killing, a private security guard was killed and another wounded in an attempted robbery in another part of the province of the same name.

Presidential candidate Jose Raul Mulino, of the Achieving Goals party, celebrates after winning on the day of the general electing in Panama City, Sunday, May 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

“The lack of opportunities and abandonment by the government push many young people to leave school and join gangs,” said Cañas, who also works with gang members to try to get them to leave a life of crime.

In a dilapidated building near where the shooting took place, 60-year-old Antonio Smith sat in a wheelchair. He said crime had reached unseen levels and noted that the morning after Hernández was killed he heard more shots fired nearby, but no one died.

“That’s why you see the police there,” he said. ““It’s a daily occurrence. You haven’t even had your breakfast when you hear it.”

The problems in Colon have been persistent despite the billions of dollars in global trade that glide by it each year through the canal. Many of the workers in the free-trade zone commute from Panama City.

The city center is full of ramshackle wooden buildings. Sewage runs in the streets and garbage rots in fetid piles. A downpour Monday filled the streets with water. By late afternoon, the city’s main street had emptied as workers rushed from their jobs to get home before dark. There was a notably stronger police presence than usual.

Unemployment in the province of about 300,000 people is around 30%, according to social researcher Gilberto Toro, who has studied gangs in Colon. The government and business sector put it about half that, which would still be well above the national average of 9%. Toro said the discrepancy is because the government includes informal employment. More than 50% of Colon residents live in poverty, Toro said.

There have been attempts made to steer youth away from the gangs. The government offered $50 a month to those who left their gangs, but many continued committing crimes and it wasn’t enough to turn the situation around.

In 2017, Colon registered 70 homicides, a record at the time. Among them that year was Amílcar Henríquez, another member of the national soccer team at the time. Last year, there were 102 homicides, down from 111 in 2021. So far this year, there have been 60.

Hernández’s killing hit hard in Colon and across Panama.

Hernández played for the Independent Athletic Club, the reigning champion of Panama’s professional league.

He had been called up to the national team in March for a friendly match against world champion Argentina in Buenos Aires. Argentina won 2-0, with star Lionel Messi scoring on a penalty, but various Panamanian players, including Hernández, took photos with the Argentine star that they posted on social media.

“He was a laid back guy who played soccer with the kids and who not long ago showed us a picture from his trip to Argentina and another that he took with Lionel Messi,” said a resident of the area, who gave her name only as Rosa for safety reasons. “It’s another hard blow for we mothers and the province.”

Carmen Solís, another neighbor, remembered Hernández coming back to Colon after the Argentina trip too. “He visited us after that trip to show us photos. He was really happy,” she said. “Another great athlete with a future who died because of the damned bullets.”

panama tourist killed

Watch CBS News

2 Americans sentenced in Panama for 5 murders

August 15, 2017 / 3:35 PM EDT / AP

PANAMA CITY --  U.S. citizen William Dathan Holbert was sentenced to 47 years in prison by a court in Panama for robbing and killing five other Americans in a Caribbean tourist destination, authorities said Monday.

Holbert's ex-wife Laura Reese was sentenced to 26 years for her role.

Authorities said Holbert admitted killing five people between 2007 and 2010 in Bocas del Toro province in order to steal their property.

Holbert's lawyer, Claudia Alvarado, suggested an appeal was likely.

Holbert and Reese were arrested while trying to enter Nicaragua from Costa Rica in 2010.

That year, the bodies of four adults and one child were found buried on the property of a hostel that Holbert owned.

Holbert killed a U.S. citizen named Mike Brown, his wife and young son in 2007. Authorities have said Brown may have been living under an alias and they don't know where he was from. In 2010, Holbert killed Cheryl Lynn Hughes, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, who ran a small hotel in Panama, and Bo Icelar, former owner of a gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Holbert had left North Carolina after he went through a divorce to a previous wife, sold his landscaping business and filed for bankruptcy. He met Reese in North Carolina.

In Montana, Holbert stole a car and sold it. Back in North Carolina he sold a $200,000 home that he didn't own. Authorities pursued him across a half dozen states that included a high-speed chase in Wyoming.

He and Reese had been living in Panama under the alias Cortez. They were fleeing a Panamanian investigation when they were arrested in Nicaragua.

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Murderous Vacations: Serial Killers Stalking the Panama Highlands

panama tourist killed

Jeremy Kryt/The Daily Beast

A series of unsolved murders and disappearances in Panama have baffled authorities, claiming the lives of two young Dutch women, an American, and others.

Jeremy Kryt

S ince The Daily Beast’s original “Lost Girls” investigation last summer, additional evidence and archives have been unearthed in the case. More than two dozen other victims were also reported in the same region of Panama, including a young woman from the United States found murdered earlier this year. Now a return trip to the scene of events—as well as renewed sleuthing by best-selling author Dr. Kathy Reichs and other forensic specialists—provide a fresh take on this cold case.

BOQUETE, Panama—Everyone knows everyone in a town this small. And that should make it hard to keep a secret for long. Or so you'd think.

From the quaint two-story courthouse to the outlying villages on the slopes of the Baru Volcano, the Boquete rumor mill runs all day, every day. The local buzz can make it difficult to separate genuine fact from tropical fiction, although the town boasts just a single paved street and fewer than 10,000 residents.

Jeremy Kryt

Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast  here .

panama tourist killed

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What Really Happened To Two Dutch Hikers Who Disappeared In Panama?

Laura Allan

On April 1, 2014, two students from the Netherlands named Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers went on a hike in Panama with a dog. The dog came back, but the young women didn't. A search eventually turned up a severed foot and scattered remains, but authorities had trouble determining how the hikers had died. Years later, some people still believe someone killed the pair.

Froon and Kremers were both in their early 20s; they traveled to Panama to work with children. Many hikers from all over the world disappear , fall, or suffer other fatal accidents while traveling - this could've happened to these women as well. But there are a few holes in this particular theory. For one, the girls' camera had photos on it from hours after they stopped dialing emergency services. Also, a serial killer might have stalked their area at the time.

The world may never know what happened to the pair, but speculation still runs wild. Did they become lost and fall down a cliff? Was someone who's still out there responsible for their deaths? Or is it all part of a cover-up?

The Students Planned To Volunteer With Children

The Students Planned To Volunteer With Children

On March 14, 2014, students Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers traveled from the Netherlands to Panama , where they intended to assist local communities, volunteer with children, learn Spanish, and relax a bit. However, a miscommunication led to them arriving in Boquete too early for their program, which Kremers noted was " rude and not at all friendly " in a diary entry.

"Tomorrow they will try and get ahold of the [head teacher]... This was a real disappointment,” the entry continued. The date read April 1, the day of their fateful hike.

They Took A Dog For A Walk And Never Returned

They Took A Dog For A Walk And Never Returned

The women wanted to see as much of Boquete as possible,  hiring a guide to show them around on April 2, 2014. The day before the guided tour, however, they decided to explore the area surrounding the active Barú Volcano towards the Continental Divide. According to a geographical expert, the three-mile stretch is relatively easy to explore, and most missing tourists return without assistance or come across search parties looking for them.

Kremers and Froon set out into the forest along the Pianista Trail around 11 am on April 1, 2014, with only a backpack between them.  Blue, a dog known throughout the community, reportedly followed them along the trail. It was the last time anyone saw the women alive.

The Dog Returned Unharmed

Other than the dog, the young women went on their hike alone, only asking for directions from a local innkeeper, who advised them to take a taxi back to town. People began to suspect something happened when the dog Blue returned from the hike unaccompanied . 

When neither Froon nor Kremers turned up, the community decided to wait until the next day to contact authorities. Meanwhile, on April 2, 2014, the pair missed their appointment with their hired tour guide. The families of both Froon and Kremers also became concerned when they didn't get a usual check-in call. On April 3, 2014, authorities began an aerial search of the forests and an on-foot search of Boquete. 

The Initial Search Proved Fruitless Until A Native Woman Discovered Their Backpack

The Initial Search Proved Fruitless Until A Native Woman Discovered Their Backpack

In the days following the students' disappearances, authorities conducted foot and aerial searches. By April 6, 2014, the parents of both women grew frantic and  flew to Panama with detectives from the Netherlands. Once there, the families and detectives began a massive search.

For a time, many suspected Froon and Kremers never got lost on the mountain, but were instead victims of a crime in town ; this later proved false. The search efforts moved into the forests where the young women traversed, using on-foot search teams and dog units. Teams investigated for 10 days; their hunt scaled down on April 14, 2014, though continued on for 10 more weeks.

A woman from the local Ngäbe tribe  turned in a blue backpack she claimed she found along the bank of a nearby river. The backpack contained sunglasses, a camera, two cell phones, money, two bras, Froon's passport, and a water bottle.

Their Phone Logs Revealed Attempted 911 Calls Made Days After They Disappeared

After finding the women's phones, authorities now had a lead. Once they examined the phones, investigators unraveled a confusing and grim timeline. The phones remained active for nearly 10 days after the pair went missing.

During this time, Kremers and Froon repeatedly called for help. They called 112, the emergency number for the Netherlands, as well as Panama's emergency number, 911. They made numerous emergency calls a  few hours into their hike ; logs show they managed to connect only once due to poor reception in the forest. This connected call was stable for roughly two seconds.

After the attempted calls, the phones stayed on for some time. Kremers's locked phone showed someone entered a wrong PIN several times. Accordingly, Kremers's phone was powered-on one last time on April 11, 2014 ; both phones went dead afterward. Given the timeline, authorities assumed at least one of the women was alive at the time, five days into the search.

The Camera Held Strange Photos

The girls' camera showed evidence of what may have happened. More than 100 pictures were on the camera; the first few looked like normal tourist photos with the women smiling together. However, the tone of the pictures began to change.

One showed Kremers with what looked like concern on her face, dated around the time of the emergency calls. After this, the photos were from April 8, 2014 and likely snapped  between 1 am and 4 am . These were of seemingly random objects, like a stick with plastic sticking to it, as well as scenes of foliage, canyons, and a bridge.

Experts proposed several theories about how and why the women took these photos. The arbitrary pictures looked focused as if steady hands took the shots, suggesting they were intentional. Perhaps the photos served as trail markers to help the young women find their way around or back to the rescuers.

Because of the dark, the pair might have used the camera flash as a light source or to scare away animals. Others suggested neither Froon nor Kremers took those photos; they believe someone abducted the women.  

One Photo Suggests Kremers Sustained An Injury

One Photo Suggests Kremers Sustained An Injury

Froon's parents requested authorities refrain from releasing all the photos from the camera to the public. Allegedly, some pictures depicted Kremers and Froon in a rough state. During a Panama-based TV program's broadcast , the newscasters accidentally leaked some photos; this happened again on a Dutch TV program. The second show featured a photo focusing on the back of a person's head, suspected to be Kremers's. The image appears to show  an injury on Kremers's head , with blood on her hair.

This led to speculation about how Kremers suffered an injury during the hike, and Froon perhaps used the camera for light, or to document Kremers's last-known whereabouts  before seeking help. If harm came to Kremers, the photos could have intended to help rescuers determine her location based on visual markers.

Their Belongings Turned Up Perfectly Arranged

After the discovery of the backpack, the search for the young women began again, this time in a different area. Authorities investigated  along the Rio Culebra , AKA the Serpent River, near the village of Alto Romero. This was far from the trail Kremers and Froon originally set out for, meaning they either got lost or changed their itinerary.

This time, the search turned up something:  Kremers's clothing , neatly folded and arranged on the river's edge. The shorts appeared zipped and folded , placed above the waterline about a half-mile upstream from where the local tribal woman allegedly found the backpack. Curiously, the garments showed up on the opposite side of the river from where the women took all their photos. 

Searchers Uncovered The Bodies, Thanks To A Severed Foot

Two months after discovering Kremers's clothing, further searches finally turned up human remains . Searchers found a shoe behind a tree along the river where the backpack reportedly appeared. It contained a sock, an intact human foot, and anklebones, with enough flesh for DNA testing. By the end of August 2014, DNA tests linked the foot to Froon. Investigators later uncovered more bones and bits of skin, numbering up to 33 skeletal fragments. They also found  bits of Kremers's skin  in the jungle.

While the young women were evidently dead, none of the evidence explained how they died. The bodies were in pieces, likely scattered by the river over time; much was lost. No marks on the bones indicated damage, and some of the bones appeared bleached . The only other suggestion of injury was remnants of bones from Froon's foot, though a broken foot wouldn't have killed her. Though they "found" the women, authorities did not know how their deaths occurred. 

Two Dutch Men Were Seen With The Women Before They Vanished

Authorities faced the struggle of trying to determine why and how the women had died. They began looking for persons of interest; they tried to figure out if the women had any company besides the dog. The innkeeper they spoke to said Froon and Kremers  were alone , and had asked for directions before the hike - at this point, no one was with them. 

However, police learned later from a Facebook post the pair met with some people before their trip. In the post, Froon and Kremers said they shared brunch  with two Dutch men  on the last day anyone saw the women. However, no reports cropped up about these two men. 

The Authorities Ruled The Women's Deaths An Accident

By March 2015, almost a year after Kremers and Froon traveled to Panama, investigators at last reached their conclusion. Their research into the case suggested the women most likely suffered some sort of accident along the trail, but became lost in the forest. Froon had supposedly fallen a great distance and died either in or near the river.

Her foot would support this theory; experts said the breaks in the ankle and foot could only occur  from a fall from a great height. The taken photos showed the date of when the women tried contacting emergency services, likely after Kremers suffered her injury. But in the dark, they couldn't find their way back. Froon died trying to exit the forest, leaving Kremers dead or dying. The remains then decomposed, thanks to the river and rain, and ended up scattered miles away.

There was finally a resolution to the mystery, and the case could rest. Still, some people weren't so sure.

People Criticized The Way Panama Handled The Investigation

People Criticized The Way Panama Handled The Investigation

Many claimed the Panamanian authorities botched their handling of the case. A writer for the Panama paper La Estrella   Adela Coriat  said the whole thing was a mess. She reported there was no chain of custody established for the recovered evidence or remains. She also said the 30 prints found on the backpack not only remained unidentified, but none of the indigenous peoples involved with the case had their prints recorded.

She voiced further concern over the investigation of the electronics, saying the condition of the equipment found was inconsistent with the place where it turned up. The lack of damage to the equipment was suspicious, but the police didn't investigate this matter, and also failed to scrutinize a photo deleted off of the camera.

Lawyer Enrique Arrocha, who works for the Kremers family, voiced concern about the handling of evidence. He claimed there wasn't a forensic investigation conducted at the crime scene, and the evidence and its sources remained unverified. Furthermore, still lost are the women's skulls and other major bones, which may reveal a more definitive cause of death.

There Are Accusations Of A Cover-Up

Because of this evidence mishandling, conspiracy theories and suggestions of cover-ups by the police and government gained steam. Some believe the indigenous people of the area may have killed the pair  (and eaten them), and are now hiding the crime by turning over evidence and seeming to cooperate.

Others suggested the deaths are possibly  the work of the cartels  or organ traffickers, which would explain why the bodies were in pieces. While there are plentiful theories about what truly happened, one common theme revolves around the government and authorities in Panama intentionally keeping quiet.

Why would they do this? Some experts and others involved in the case say it was all done in the name of tourism , which brings a lot of revenue to Panama. The idea of Panama as dangerous is potentially harmful to tourism, so it's more convenient to conclude these women died from an accident.

In 2017, journalist Adela Coriat expressed the same opinion to The Daily Beast:

It's a sad fact, but serious investigation was never done [by the Public Ministry]... Everything had to be hushed up to protect tourism... I want tourists to come to Panama, too, but the government must still do its job... The victims deserve justice, and the families deserve to know what really happened.

Later Evidence Suggested There May Have Been Foul Play

Later Evidence Suggested There May Have Been Foul Play

Did someone kill Froon and Kremers? Between 2009 and 2017, over 24 other tourists have gone missing in this area  or turned up dead. A revisiting of the case in 2017 brought up enough evidence to suggest these disappearances, including those of Froon and Kremers, may have links to a serial killer. Leaked law enforcement reports suggested someone dismembered the young women and scattered their remains deliberately, which might have happened to others as well.

Previously, authorities said the river and scavengers scattered the remains, but the Chiriquí state judicial report indicated otherwise. The report said after an 18-month investigation, the evidence pointed to homicide. Pair this with abundant unanswered questions, such as why the two young women ended up so far from the main trail, and some will start thinking  it was a slaying .

Internet groups continue to research the disappearances . Though authorities can reopen the case anytime, given how many years have passed, no one can unequivocally explain what happened to Froon and Kremers in the forests of Panama. 

  • Graveyard Shift
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A closer look at mysterious disappearances that continue to baffle detectives.

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Migrants Dead, Missing After Boat Capsizes off Panama Coast

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - The bodies of drowned migrants were pulled out of the sea off the coast of Panama after a boat capsized in bad weather, Panama's border police said on Wednesday.

While authorities have not confirmed the number of victims or their nationalities, reports from media outlets including Telemetro and TVn2 said the boat was carrying 25 migrants, four of whom were killed and seven others were missing.

Record numbers of migrants have reached the southern border of the United States in recent years, as thousands travel from South America on their way through Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border. Most flee poverty, gang violence or other hardships in their home countries.

In a statement, Panama's border police agency Senafront said the victims were found near Panama's border with Colombia in the Carreto area, near the Caribbean port of Obaldia. The area is not far from a route through a deadly stretch of jungle known as the Darien Gap where many U.S.-bound migrants journey on foot.

It was not clear if the migrants on the boat aimed to bypass the treacherous Darien Gap, or were about to launch their trek through it.

"Irregular migrants were allegedly being transported near the Carreto area by criminals who recklessly insist on risking the lives of these migrants in a dangerous sea area," according to the statement.

Panama's government has in recent months boosted security in the Darien province amid an increase in the number of migrants who undertake the harrowing journey en route to the United States.

Last year, a record 520,000 migrants used the route, of which some 328,000 were Venezuelans, according to Panamanian migration authorities.

(Reporting by Eli Moreno; Writing by Brendan O'Boyle; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Stephen Coates)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters .

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Tags: Panama , Venezuela , United States , South America

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Major update in ‘Panama pals’ mystery after Dutch girls vanished in jungle 9 years ago leaving haunting photo clues

  • Imogen Braddick
  • Published : 10:01 ET, Jul 15 2023
  • Updated : 10:55 ET, Jul 15 2023

A DAM is set to be searched in the hope of finally solving the mystery deaths of two girls in the Panama jungle - nearly 10 years after they vanished.

Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22, went for a hike around the scenic Baru volcano in Boquete in 2014 - and never returned.

One of the last photos of Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22, who vanished while hiking in 2014

The students from the  Netherlands  spent six months planning their trip to Panama , spending some time backpacking, volunteering and learning Spanish.

The pair had been staying with a host family in Boquete to volunteer at a local school when they waved goodbye to walk the El Pianista Trail on April 1, 2014.

They were never seen alive again - and two months later, a pelvic bone and a foot, still inside a walking boot, were found near where their backpack and clothes were discovered.

To this day, the disappearance and tragic deaths of Kris and Lisanne remains a harrowing mystery.

Many mind-blowing theories have emerged - including one claim that Kris could still be alive after she was trafficked into the sex trade by a kidnapper roaming in the jungle.

And after taking a deep dive into all the evidence and flying out to do their own probe, Dutch authors Marja West and Jürgen Snoeren believe the girls died after an accident.

In their book Lost in The Jungle, they comb through the mystery case - aiming to debunk wild conspiracy theories surrounding the deaths.

But the pair admitted there were still "a lot of unknowns".

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And they are now set to return to Boquete in the hope of finding the rest of the girls' bodies and finding out what really happened.

"We don't know if anybody was involved - we cannot exclude that," Jürgen told The Sun.

"We believe the most likely explanation is that they had an accident - but it's not 100 per cent.

"If somebody was involved, or anybody has seen something and for some reason hasn't come forward yet, there is a possibility the case will be cracked.

"There haven't been any new developments for years, but hopefully there will be by going there ourselves."

Marja added: "The only way to make a full conclusion is when we find the rest of the bodies. I think there should still be remains there in the jungle from the girls.

"But it's a hell of a job. It's a pretty hard search."

As they plot their return to Panama with a pathologist, a rescue team and documentary producers to solve the case, Marja and Jürgen have come up with a potential new search area.

"Nobody has ever looked for the rest of their remains - it's as simple as that," Marja said.

"The last time anyone went there from the Netherlands was January, 2015.

"You can't just walk there, there's flash floods, the water will rise and fall in a matter of minutes.

"There a house-sized boulders near the river - you can't even climb them. There's a lot of volcanoes in the area, so it's very steep. Once you're down at the river, there's no way you can get back.

"But at the end of the river, there's a dam. There's a filter that stops all the boulders and branches - if the bones were taken by the river, you might find them at the dam.

"I think that's our best chance."

FINAL PHOTO

One of the final photos of Kris and Lisanne show the girls smiling with wide-open arms and thumbs up as they reached the top of the El Pianista Trail.

But instead of turning back, Marja and Jürgen believe the girls carried on walking into the jungle along the Changuinola River - dubbed "the grinder" for its dangerous flash floods.

It's a treacherous route that even many locals avoid - and hikers must cross several rickety rope bridges over the water.

Almost three hours after the last photo was taken of Kris crossing a narrow stream over large boulders, the girls made two calls to the Dutch emergency number.

Marja and Jürgen believe something must have happened on the hike - such as an accident - that made Kris and Lisanne want to call Dutch emergency services.

As it was getting dark, it's likely the girls decided to hunker down for the night - with the aim of setting off again in the morning.

But after waking up, it's thought they carried on walking in the wrong direction along the steep river bed - and found themselves deeper in the jungle with no way out.

The alarm was raised about their disappearance after they failed to show up for a tour of a coffee farm in Boquete on April 2.

A desperate search for the students was launched, with rescue workers combing through the jungle and nearby villages.

But by April 6, the girls were still missing.

Kris and Lisanne's families decided to fly out to Panama and bring Dutch detectives with them.

The jungle was searched for another ten days with the help of the cops from the Netherlands - but there was no sign of the girls.

It later emerged the girls made 77 separate call attempts to the cops - and only one managed to connect, but broke up after two seconds due to the lack of reception.

A foot was found still inside a boot two months after the girls vanished

But as the search was starting to wind up, a local woman handed in a blue backpack, claiming she found it in a rice paddy along the banks of the river.

It was found in the middle of the jungle - a 14-hour trek from the top of the El Pianista Trail where the final photo of Kris and Lisanne was taken.

The backpack contained two pairs of sunglasses, $83 in cash, two bras, a water bottle - and importantly, Lisanne's passport.

It also contained Lisanne's camera and both of their phones.

In a chilling discovery, 90 photos had been snapped on the camera deep in the jungle in the dead of night on April 8 between 1am and 4am - raising questions about who took the pictures.

Only a handful of the pictures retrieved from the memory card showed clear images - with most showing near-complete darkness. 

The photos showed the girls belongings spread out on rocks, along with plastic bags and candy wrappers, mounds of dirt, and a mirror.

And one of the images chillingly showed the back of Kris' head with what some sleuths believe is blood leaking from her temple.

According to one web sleuth, the snaps taken on the camera a week after the girls vanished might have been taken with the flash to light up the path as they stumbled through the dark jungle.

But others have suggested the chilling photos might have been taken by someone else after killing the girls.

The identity of the person who took the images remains a mystery.

Marja believes Kris died on the night that the photos were taken and Lisanne was desperately trying to create some light in the darkness of the jungle to help her.

It would explain why she took snaps of random objects as she would have been avoiding pointing the flash at Kris' face.

Or, Marja said, they might have heard someone or something nearby and were trying to use the flash to attract their attention.

Marja said: "I think it's the most plausible reason for the pictures."

Marja believes Kris died from injuries sustained in an accident - and Lisanne tried to set off on her own to get back to civilisation, but also later died.

REMAINS FOUND

The discovery of the backpack led to a new search along the Culubre River - where Kris' denim shorts were found.

Two months later, a pelvis and a boot with a foot inside were found close to where the backpack was discovered.

Eventually, at least 33 bones were found scattered along the same river bank - with evidence of injury.

"We are pretty convinced they got lost and tried to follow the river bed," Jürgen explained.

"It's very hard to say judging by the injuries they had what exactly happened.

"Kris' pelvis was broken when it was found, but we can't tell if it was post or pre death.

"We also know Lisanne had inflammation of the bone in her legs. Lisanne could have broken her toes descending in the river bed or stumbling on a rock.

"We just can't say for certain what sequence they got the injuries."

But he added: "In the post-mortem, they found some evidence of small carnivores, which indicates their bodies must have laid there for quite some time - enough time for animals to scatter the bones.

"We can speculate that they crawled somewhere under a bush and died.

"The area is extremely steep, rocky, densely vegetated, you could pass by a body two metres away hidden by some leaves - and not see it.

"Potentially you could have to comb through every square inch of that area.

"Even when we go there with a large team, we still can't be sure we will find them."

Some have raised the possibility of the backpack, containing all the evidence, being planted - suggesting third party involvement in their deaths.

But Jürgen said: "The backpack was stuck against a rock in the middle of a raging river. The woman who found it was only there for a few minutes.

"If you were going to plant evidence, the risk you are taking by planting it in the middle of a raging river is a very convincing argument against the fact the backpack was planted.

"The pieces of bone were found in the river between some rocks, they would have only been there for a few hours before they were washed away again.

"Basically, it was a stroke of luck that we found anything at all.

"The planting theory of the remains is very unconvincing with the risk of it being washed away."

Jürgen also addressed the mystery of one of the girls' phones switching on three days after the last photograph was taken - on April 11.

He doesn't believe it was switched on by Kris or Lisanne - instead, he thinks there was a technical glitch which caused it to switch on.

But the cause of the girls' deaths and disappearance have never been determined - and remain a disturbing mystery.

Cops quizzed locals, tour guides and other hikers, but only the photos and call logs currently offer a slither of evidence as to what happened.

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Although no date has been set, Jürgen and Marja hope their planned return to the jungle can help uncover answers for Kris and Lisanne's devastated families nearly 10 years on.

Photos released from the camera showed some of the girl's belongings scattered around the rocks

  • Netherlands

How this journalist found herself in the middle of a Panamanian true crime story

Mariana Atencio travels to Boquete, Panama in a helicopter

At the beginning of the year, I got a call about a story. It was about Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22, two Dutch women who went on a hike in Panama eight years ago and were never seen again. The Panamanian government had ruled their deaths an accident. The journalist on the other end of the line was Daily Beast reporter Jeremy Kryt, who had been following this case since the beginning. His question was matter-of-fact: Would I go to Panama with him to find out what really happened to the so-called “Lost Girls”?

The proposition reignited something in me that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Two years after covering breaking news as a national correspondent for MSNBC, I decided to strike out as an entrepreneur during what turned out to be the Covid-19 downturn. I felt I was drifting. I grew my career as a social media influencer and it was feeding my income, but not my soul.

panama tourist killed

know-your-value 5 ways to defy cultural barriers with MSNBC’s Mariana Atencio

This story called me. There were elements about what supposedly happened to the women that didn’t add up. Kryt pointed to new evidence suggesting foul play: Kris and Lisanne may have been intercepted and assaulted on the hike.

When he told me this, my posture sank. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Every molecule of my body felt on high alert: I felt their trauma.

Kryt didn’t know, but I had experienced something similar. More than 13 years ago, when I was nearly the same age as the Dutch women and a college student, I was hiking by myself in the Ávila mountains above my hometown of Caracas, Venezuela, and I was attacked by a man on a trail.

Fortunately, in my case, I did manage to survive the attack physically unharmed. But I have never forgotten the pain and the overwhelming feeling of helplessness it caused me. We keep trauma hidden away – lest it becomes too much to bear – but suddenly a stranger on the other end of the phone can unknowingly bring it forth in an instant, like a ton of bricks hitting you over the head on some idle Tuesday.

I realized I was a lost girl too. Here was a great chance to find myself by getting back to the work I loved the most, seeking the truth and long-delayed justice for these women and their families.

Many people – including my agent – told me not to take the job, and understandably so. Did it sound reasonable to just fly down to Central America and traipse around the jungle in a place where people might be covering up the deaths of these poor women? Still, there were so many elements about this mystery I couldn’t resist.

Image: Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers

Kris and Lisanne had gone to the small town of Boquete, in the Talamanca Highlands of Panama, to learn Spanish and volunteer with young children. On April 1st, 2014, they went up a trail called “El Pianista” (The Pianist) and didn’t come back down. As the rainy season started, Dutch and Panamanian search teams combed the area to no avail. Both families pleaded for their whereabouts.

Two months later, a few scattered human remains turned up: Kris’s bifurcated pelvis, and Lisanne’s left foot – severed at the ankle – found inside a hiking boot. Then Lisanne’s backpack was turned in by locals. In it were the women’s cell phones, their bras, $87 in cash, and a Canon Powershot camera containing dozens of horrific photos taken at night and dated a week after their disappearance.

¿Qué pasó con ellas? I couldn’t turn away.

The closer I got to this story, the more I encountered signs connecting me to these women. For starters, the assignment fell on my birthday. Upon getting to our remote bungalow in the mountains, I found a notepad from my father’s Indiana high school behind a counter. My dad passed away a few years ago, we were extremely close. I fervently believe his energy is constantly around me. And when the women went missing, they had a dog with them. A dog named Blue. And the dog I adopted after my father passed away? Its name is Blue too.

Mariana Atencio walks through the jungle in Boquete, Panama

But to get to the heart of this story, I had to get to the heart of the jungle. After flying down to Panama City, then west to a city called David and driving to Boquete, we started retracing Kris and Lisanne’s two-hour hike into “El Pianista” on the anniversary of their disappearance.

All told, the reporting involved nearly a month in the field – riding horses and reaching key areas only by helicopter – and camping where the women likely went missing. During the jungle stints, I was the only woman among a crew of nine men.

Everyone on our crew – including our indigenous guides and local support – risked their lives to find out what happened to these young women. This story is that explosive in Boquete. A dirty little secret everyone theorizes about. They refer to it in hushed tones and many won’t dare grant you an interview about it in broad daylight.

During our investigation, we came across government corruption, possible drug trafficking, even mentions of organ and human trafficking. Without giving too much away, I will tell you that my life was directly threatened, which had never happened before, even while covering cartel-related violence in Mexico or crackdowns against protests in China or Cuba.

As the team dug into what happened to Kris and Lisanne eight years ago, we found more than 50 cases of missing women and girls in that same 40-mile corridor of Panama. Femicide – extreme violence and murder of women based on their gender – is so rampant in Latin America it has been labeled a “shadow pandemic” by the United Nations. At least one third of women in Latin America and the Caribbean have experienced some form of violence from men, according to the most recent stats from the World Health Organization .

In northern Panama where the women went missing the numbers are alarming, especially for an area that’s considered a mecca for expats and tourists. As a Latin-American woman, I had to find out what happened to Kris and Lisanne, but also shed more light on this epidemic of violence against women in our hemisphere and within our communities.

To be sure, the case of two Dutch women deserves the media attention, what happened to them was unconscionable. But they were also beautiful, young and blonde: the ideal true crime victims. Other women, darker women, with Spanish or indigenous names who disappear usually don’t even get a tweet about their cases.

While we were on the ground in Panama, another woman – Stephanie Rodriguez – went missing. Her body was later found in a dumpster. We made a point to interview her husband, Ilich Leon. He was so afraid to speak openly, we had to conduct the interview in the back seat of our car in a parking garage. A man with a strong physique, I still remember the tears of helplessness rolling down Leon’s cheeks as he held a framed photo of Stephanie in his hands.

After that, my priorities shifted during this investigation. I reconnected to the struggles of everyday people and got back to boots on-the-ground reporting in places far from the headlines. Maybe I had stopped doing it because of the pandemic – there was certainly no possibility of doing this kind of story during quarantine – or maybe that was the lie I told myself while I was lost?

This case helped me deal with past trauma and regain my purpose. I felt uniquely prepared for it, speaking my native Spanish on assignment, while translating to English for our audience. I channeled my empathy as a Latina and used my fearlessness and physicality to get answers.

The investigation, which came out this week as the “Lost in Panama” true crime podcast series, is our team’s effort to uncover the truth. And my hope is that listeners also find a piece of themselves in the story of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon.

“Lost in Panama,” the true crime investigative podcast series produced by Kast Media, debuted October 31st and can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

Mariana Atencio is a Peabody Award-winning Venezuelan-American journalist, speaker and author. A former NBC News correspondent, she is also the co-founder of GoLike, a multimedia production company. 

Panama City Beach leads the nation in 2023 beach deaths as 3 more tourists die Saturday

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Florida − Three more tourists died after swimming in the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend under dangerous surf conditions.

The deaths occurred Saturday off of Panama City Beach, according to a release, which said police responded to "three separate fatal water incidents behind three different resorts." The city lists them as "fatal water incidents" because officials have said it is not known whether the victims drowned or had another medical emergency in the water.

The toll is now seven along the coast of Bay County within nine days – the highest number of beach fatalities for any single locale in the U.S. for 2023, according to a database kept by the National Weather Service. Less than a half hour to the northwest in Walton County, one person died on Thursday in similar conditions at Blue Mountain Beach and another died Saturday at Miramar Beach, the second this year on that beach, according to the weather service.

Rip current deaths trending up

Rip current deaths, which include fatalities from high surf and sneaker waves, have trended up nationwide in recent years, hitting a high of 113 in 2021, according to the weather service.

Last year, 69 deaths were reported. Already this year, 60 surf zone-related deaths have occurred, including 27 in Florida. Thirteen people have died in Puerto Rico.

Dave Benjamin, co-founder of  the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project , has called beach drownings a "neglected public health issue" that's entirely preventable.

What is known about the Panama City Beach victims?

All of the victims Saturday in Panama City Beach were tourists who died after grappling with rip currents, and in every instance but one, double red flags were posted, meaning the gulf was closed to swimmers, who risked being penalized with a $500 fine.

  • The first fatal incident on Saturday occurred about noon near Days Inn by Wyndham Panama City Beach. The victim was Kimberly Moore, 39, of Lithonia, Georgia.
  • The second occurred about an hour later near Boardwalk Beach Resort. The victim was Morytt Burden, 63, of Lithia Springs, Georgia.
  • The third happened about 4:20 p.m. near Emerald Isle Beach Resort. The victim was Donald Wixon, 68, of Canton, Michigan.

"The conditions at the time were severe, with double red flags indicating extreme water hazards," the release says. "The Panama City Beach Police Department and Beach Safety implore the public to always heed the double red flag warnings and always be aware of the dangers that can accompany these conditions.

Over the past 10 days, there were reports of 70 distressed swimmers, about 40 of them on Saturday.

"Double red-flag conditions have existed on the beach for the last week," the release reads. "Double red flags mean you are not allowed in the Gulf."

Imperfect Plan

The Missing Panama Girls: A Closer Look At One Photo

by Chris | Jan 29, 2020 | Crime Abroad , Kris Kremers

Kris Kremers

Sometimes I refer back to the Story of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, the two girls that made international headlines in 2014 when they disappeared in the northwest region of Panama. Their story captivated me for some reason.

If you don’t know the story, I recommend you visit the link at the bottom of this page. The following insight will make not make much sense to you if you don’t know their story.

Another Review of Their Photos

While I was reading over the story again, I decided to review their photos one more time. I know that their camera and mobile phone photos have been analyzed a thousand times by various people online but I also know that many people aren’t able to enhance the brightness, contrast, exposure and saturation in a professional graphics program. Fortunately, I have that ability.

This Specific Photo of Kris Kremers Caught My Eye

Photo of Kris Kremers lost panama girl

Update Dec 2, 2021: The full-resolution version of this photo was released in 2021. More info here .

This photo of Kris Kremers is identified as Photo 505. It was taken on the Continental Divide on April 1st, 2014 with the recorded time: 13:20:32. Read Matt’s article about the daytime photos (link) for more detailed information.

The girls phone records later showed that they started making their initial distress calls on their cell phones approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes after their last known daytime photo (Photo 508). Therefore, if Kris Kremers is normal and happy, as she appears to be in this photo (and in the other photos in the series), it means that things took a bad turn for them relatively soon after the photo above was taken .

When browsing the images that were on Lisanne Froon’s phone, I also noticed that a lot of other websites cropped off the top of this particular photo of Kris Kremers. The reason being, many people assume that she’s leaning over and looking down at the rock before her. However, upon closer inspection, she’s really ducking her head as to say “look at the things over my head”.

Given that most people crop off the top of this image, people would have missed the findings that I mention below. I searched Google and I found the complete photo with the highest resolution possible. Then I downloaded the photo and opened it up in my graphics editor.

I noticed a few peculiar things in the photo

I’m not sure if I’ve found something new here, but I haven’t found anyone else discussing these details online. I created this graphic and highlighted the unusual items that seemed peculiar to me:

Photo Analysis of Kris Kremers of Panama

In this photo of what looks like a cave or overgrown ravine, there are numerous possible items that suggest this place had been visited by other people.

Here is a quick recap of the graphic:

  • There’s some type of red and black object at the top of the photo. It may be a plant, but it appears to have a definitive shape and it’s oddly located that the very center of the path with no other visible red things in the trees.
  • There appears to be a visible roof-like structure above Kris’s head. It’s difficult to see when glancing at the photo, because it looks like Kris’s head is referencing something the ground. However, with the high resolution photo, you can more clearly see an organized structure over her head. Once you see it, you cannot unsee see it. The parallel side-supports would have been covered with leaves in order to make a suitable temporary roof.
  • The main/central support bar (branch?) is underneath the lighter supports. This is impossible in natural conditions and shows that it was put in place and tied to the other supports to create a make-shift roof. Without being connected to the other supports, how would that wood branch stay in place?
  • There’s a circular object hanging to the left of Kris. It looks like something hand-made. There is something white on the object, which looks like a white piece of cloth.
  • It’s possible there’s a painted insignia on the post to right of Kris. Unfortunately the resolution is not high enough to identify any specific shapes, although it appears to contain the colors white and red.
  • There appears to be a blue pieces of trash on the ground. Blue is an uncommon color in the rainforest for anything of that size.

Why do these things in the photo matter?

It’s thought that Kremers and Froon were exploring nature without anyone else around. However, if Kremers and Froon had found manmade ramshackle structures during their hike, such as the possible items viewed in this photo, it’s possible they had unwanted company.

Perhaps this was a “cave hang-out spot” used by local teenagers. Perhaps it was created by locals in the region. Regardless of who created it, the fact is that the women made emergency phone calls shortly after they visited this place. So this photo may possibly offer more insight into the story.

In 2020 – Indigenous Local People Found Committing Human Sacrifices

There are a lot of different indigenous tribes of Panama, most of which are peaceful. However, one particular group of indigenous people were discovered (updated, old link) in January 2020 to be capturing people, torturing them and offering them as human sacrifices. The indigenous locals that were committing the sacrifices were influenced by a villager that had recently travelled abroad and returned to his village with extremist “Christian” views.

This tribe was not located near the area where Kris and Lisanne disappeared, and therefore, in no way can be connected to the disappearance of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon.

In the end, maybe this photo has more information that was originally thought. I have no idea. I’m just pointing out some peculiar things worth noting.

Articles & Our Trip To Panama

The link to the main page where I give complete details of the story:

The True Story of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon – 2 Girls That Disappeared in Panama

A table of photo data from their hike on El Pianista Trail:

New Case Data: Timestamps Of Missing Daytime Photos

More details about our trip to Panama :

Our team is planning to go to Panama later this year (2021) to collect information involving the case. We’ll be mapping the trails with a GPS device, searching for the location of the night photos and capturing aerial footage of the rivers in the region. We’re trying to raise $5,000 for gear, security, transportation and food. Please support us – we can’t do it without you.

Article about our trip plans: Research Team Update – Support Us

Campaign Link: Mapping The Jungle Trails Of Panama

Thank you for reading. My condolences to the families that experienced this terrible tragedy.

Please note: Our team is committed to accuracy of information and respecting the privacy of those involved with this disappearance case. If you have any supplementary information regarding the case, or if you were involved in this case and feel that the information available in this article impacts your privacy, please contact our team .

Before You Comment (Important!)

Please remember to be considerate of the two girls that lost their lives and their families. Use soft language and leave out gory visuals in what you write. Everyone is already aware that there are many unfortunate possibilities of what could have happened to Kris and Lisanne. Any comments that are disrespectful or inconsiderate to the families of Kris and Lisanne will be removed by a moderator. Thank you for your consideration.

270 Comments

Alexis

Something I hadn’t noticed before until I could see the photos upclose, (the one where she is hunched over) is that her face looks distorted; it doesn’t look like her almost as if its some kind of mask.

Kitty

Totally agree, Alexis. I find it really creepy, but maybe I’m looking at it wrong due to shadows and light. There’s no denying that the face looks ‘skewed’ and mask like. Bizarre!

Mymy

This photo has been edited. On the original, her face doesn’t look like that at all. This is the real one: https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lMUOsoUME0Q/YLJzTuPRWbI/AAAAAAAAHDc/431BbuGq2PQEgxV65djGrwcBUCL5BEh8QCLcBGAsYHQ/s486/closeupkrs.jpg

Jim B

Kris is clearly sticking out her tongue at someone. I have seen her stick out her tongue and other photos of her. She’s clearly holding a bottle of water in her left hand in front of her. That is not a cave or a ravine behind her. That’s just shadow that the camera didn’t illuminate. If you watch the four part video of the entire trail beyond the Mirador you will see exactly where this photo was taken, and there is not a cave or ledge or ravine anywhere near her.

User65353

Highlighted areas of interest (some not yet discussed I think):

=== Potential Unsafe Link Removed ===

I think the “night pictures” were made by the killers to make it look like they were lost and trying to signal for help.

Chris

Hi User65353,

Thanks for your interest in the case and providing some input. I noticed that you’ve submitted two more links in another newer comment.

The problem with the links you are providing is not that the links themselves are necessarily “unsafe” (they could be, but we won’t test them)…the problem is that ALL of your links require users to download some form of content.

Links that require download are high-risk by their very nature, so please consider uploading your media to a website like imgur.com or a similar alternative. That way, no downloads are necessary.

We usually permit our commenters to publish links to external material, and you are welcome to do the same. However, any link that requires any form of downloads, account creation or spammy activity, to view linked content, will not be permitted.

Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your interest in the case.

But thank you for your kind answer!

Let’s try one more time then (and please don’t censor this, even if you think that it is not pretty – murders rarely are!):

https://ibb.co/nqy80hS or https://postimg.cc/94q0cVhH

Briana

What did you see in your circles?

Gregory Cormier

I think the night photos were taken by individuals who found the device and were not familiar with the camera, perhaps never seeing a camera before. Like local tribesmen.

Inspector

Perhaps the killer of Catherine Johanet knows more

Ri

Hi, u might want to watch this vid it has theories dat i think might giv more insights to this case

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pCaD8kRTwsI

JT

Why would the perpetrators concoct all of the photo/backpack evidence? Why not just kill them and leave it be? I’m not understanding why they bothered to create a cover story. All of it could’ve just gone away.?

Lim

It’s worth mentioning how the police found out that someone tried unlocking Kris Kremers’ phone, but failed to do so. This either meant Lisanne Froon was conscious while Kris was not, and tried to call emergency services, or that a third party tried to get into her phone but didn’t succeed. However, calling emergency services doesn’t require unlocking the phone, meaning a third party had to be involved. Also, it wouldn’t make sense if Lisanne didn’t know Kris’ password. They were friends from college, and were roommates then, so Lisanne had to have known Kris’ password as her best friend. Therefore, this can prove that the likelihood of a third party being involved is very high.

William Kirby

I think it would be a mistake to assume Lisanne knew her friend’s password. I wouldn’t give mine out to my best friend, not even to my wife. There is, of course, the possibility that they might have agreed to share passwords considering that a remote wilderness could present an emergency that might result in a combination of one of them losing her phone while the other was too incapacitated to work her’s.

Tony

We have no way of knowing if somebody tried to unlock the phone but failed. What we do know is for 5 days after they disappeared, her phone was checked about a dozen times. For the first handful, a correct password was entered. The last half either had a wrong password, or simply no password at all was entered. And look at it from this point of view. If you are in the middle of the jungle, lost, and desperately trying to find service, why waste your battery by logging into your phone. Obviously she did the first several times, but as the battery got lower, she likely got more conscious of the idea of conserving it. Just pressing the button to turn the screen on provides you with the relative information, ie, whether you have a signal or not.

I’m not saying that I don’t think foul play was involved. In fact, I’m almost certain of it. But we need to be careful about the information we have. Jumping to conclusions too early, or on the basis of too little and incorrect information is likely to lead to the wrong conclusions.

P.Cohen

The person attempting to enter the code was he/she using Spanish or Dutch ?

fonte

I see nothing extraordinary in this photo, without stretching imagination. This is likely part of the trail on the way down from summit, that maybe turns sharply. Would like to know exactly where and when the final day photo was taken. That is the key. Draw a line from that point in all directions as far as they could travel in the time to the emergency call, and there must be part of the answer to the mystery inside that circle. If you can rule out getting lost or falling off the trail in that circle, all my money is on foul play.

Jeroen

Any idea of the exact location where this picture is taken? If it’s part of the trail where people walk all the time I don’t think something is up with this place.

Youtube channel backpackercoach or backpackingcoach i think, has a video called “is it a cave?” where he shows a section of trail that looks much like that. He has a reasonable explanation for why she is having to bend down, and he found video where you can see a turn to the left where kris is.

Susan Bayer

The last photo of Kris on the rocks doesn’t appear to have any evidentiary value to me. Shortly after this photo is when the girls encountered trouble and tried to dial for help. Hopefully, this 2021 investigation can find the truth of exactly what happened. My opinion is that the girls met with foul play and were murdered. If Kris were injured and they couldn’t use the phone, then why didn’t Lisanne go get help? They were not lost. The guide had something to do with the girls’ disappearance. He went into the girls’ room without police, he was involved with finding of the backpack, and also the bones. Too many coincidences. The finding of the backpack 14 miles away is too incredulous to be believed. Not getting any fingerprints looks suspect. We have 5 people ending up dead, and the skulls of the girls are never found. I can’t explain the calls or photos or intact skin that was found. The theories I’ve read seem too far-fetched to be believable. But, then again this whole case is pretty unbelievable whether you believe they did or didn’t meet foul play. I believe that this case WILL be solved. It will be interesting to see where the photos were actually taken. There’s a lot of loose ends to be tied up, but I think this 2021 investigation can do it.

Anna

Her shirt sleeve looks like a face.

Jordan

Looking at the original photo-

(this was enhanced by an AI as someone who has studied this sort of thing professionally, explains some of the distortions and weird patterns in the photos leaves and vines,

the AI distorted her face lol and it made it appear she has no arm from the elbow down)

after studying the original photo, she is actually posing sticking her tongue out, in a slight hunched over salute, the light is hitting her hand, her pose and demeanor makes me believe it is Lisanne taking the photo.

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lMUOsoUME0Q/YLJzTuPRWbI/AAAAAAAAHDc/431BbuGq2PQEgxV65djGrwcBUCL5BEh8QCLcBGAsYHQ/s486/closeupkrs.jpg

I do believe that this appears to be some sort of structure though, it does seem like some vines / branches have been woven together to form some sort of hut… and even the AI enhancement would not make the blue appear on the floor so distinctly, the color and look almost reminds me of a scrap of denim like material?

I do think it looks like red flowers growing through the structure, and whilst I agree that it does look like there is some sort of symbol on the tree, after studying her pose from the photo above, I dont think she would be acting / posing like that if there was a creepy ass symbol scrawled into the tree! I do get very creepy and bad vibes from this photo though. It holds a bad energy.

Tom

There is very convincing evidence gathered by Juan Perea over the years on this case. He has a whole series of You Tube videos (over 50) that were made that show that the pictures were manipulated and he names the suspect. He even found pictures of the suspect and a local “model” wearing Kris’s blue shirt right after the disappearance. The back of the shirt was soiled (you interpret). The pictures taken were used to place Kris in pictures on the Mirador with Lisanne. There is so much to see and Juan is amazing.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=kris+and+lisanne++finanli

Danielle

My first thought and instincts on the object you believe to be circular on the left is a cow skull and the fact it’s there is very strange indeed.

Jamie S

I don’t buy it that those girls were murdered on the pianista trail. I also think those girls probably already perished before the dates on those daytime photos. I think whoever was behind the (likely) murders wanted it to seem like they went missing due to being lost on the pianista trail.

I think the most important photos were not the daytime ones; I think the most important photos were some of the legible nighttime ones. This is because people who knew the area were able to recognize that the nighttime photos were likely taken at Caldera springs, more than 20 miles from the area the girls allegedly went missing at. However, the perpetrators likely wanted the authorities to believe they were taken on the pianista trail.

I think Juantarctica made a compelling case on YouTube for this theory. At this point I have to agree with him, and I think it’s likely the trail guide and some men they met were somehow involved. Ironically enough, several of those men were also murdered shortly after. I could be wrong, but until I see some compelling evidence to the contrary, I’m sticking with Juan’s theory.

Joanna Austin

I think we are all seeing things that aren’t there.

If I saw a cow skull hanging in a tree I would get the hell out of there, not pose for a photo.

Agreed the thing on the tree trunk looks man made but even if it is it is not sinister.

It isn’t a cave, somebody has shown in a youtube video that it us just a very deep path on the wrong side of the mountain with a sharp turn.

No little men or cow skulls or carvings.

Still creepy though. No way would I walk down that path

Arvidi

While posing with sticking out your tongue means for a Dutch native you found something disgusting, especially while simultaneously closing your eyes. So that is what she discovered here. Apart from the fact if she was photoshopped in this picture, i.m.o. she does see something disgusting.

Nikolai

I see orange spray paint markings on the base of the tree further in the “cave” to Kris’s right

Borek Lupoměský

The commenters here are speculating wildly about this particular picture. I have created a comparison of the original photo leaked to the public, the artificially upsampled version thereof and the (presumed) full resolution picture taken from the article linked to in my previous post (all cropped to show only Kris and further 2× magnified). It needs to be stressed that while the AI upsampled image looks impressive, it cannot and does not recover any lost information. For forensic work, any such upsampling is worthless. It only makes the image look more detailed, but the detail is artificial and can be very misleading. In the leaked images some 90% of the original information is irretrievably lost – trying to read anything into any of the remaining spots and splotches is fool’s errand.

Here is the comparison: https://voyager.lupomesky.cz/kremers-froon/kris-gully-3composite.jpg

This article seems to have a crop from high resolution version of the above photo. In this one it’s clear that Kris has her hand up, closed eyes and stuck out tongue.

https://netherlandsnewslive.com/kris-and-lisanne-went-hiking-in-panama-but-never-left-the-jungle/151903/

Mike Moreno

I think that this is a photoshopped image made by cutting out a picture of Kris and pasting it onto a background to give the false impression that Kris and Lisanne went on the Pianista Trail. It was probably done by the perpetrators in order to collect the reward money. The original plan had been for them to disappear without a trace, like so many other people in that part of Panamá, but when the reward money was offered, they decided to fabricate a narrative in which the two girls had mysteriously lost their way on the trail.

Gunnar

Also I wish we new more details on the phones. Why weren’t those outgoing calls being completed? Was the reception that bad in those locations? Curious if people have found these specific locations and done some extensive testing and exploring in those and surrounding areas?

Gunnar

Are any of you familiar with the “missing 411” phenomena? Wonder if this case has any similarities?

Bec

I have read several of the books. I do not think this case fits the criteria of “missing 411”.

Dubious

The first thing that strikes me as very odd in this photograph – and I think I haven’t seen anyone pointing that out yet -, is a specific number…. Shadow play back and forth, I find it more than weird that you can clearly see the number 5.

Paul Grant

The simplest explanations are most likely to be the correct explanations. Here is what I see: – Kris walks down the ravine and bends over to examine orange graffiti – She turns to talk Lisanna – Bright sunlight is coming in from the left side of the photo, so Kris holds her flattened right hand up to her face to shield her eyes, similar to a salute. Note the shadow across her face , covering her eyes: that is from her hand. Her hands are *not* tied behind her back. – Kris has somewhat prominent cheeks and a full lower lip. What people are mistaking as swelling of the right eye/cheek is simply the sunlight highlighting the contours of the right side of her face while the left side is in shadow, probably combined with squinting of the right eye due to the bright light. What people are mistaking as blood from her nose and lip is again just a shadow cast from her nostril and lower lip due to the bright sun. The “blood” on her leg is, again, a shadow. – The ground is littered with leaves, twigs, and stones. It is the poor color quality of the photograph with oversaturated reds that has people thinking they are seeing skulls and carcasses. – Aside from the various graffiti markings, the one thing that looks potentially “creepy” is the “circular, hanging object”. The circular part looks like vines to me, but the portion in the middle has potential to be a cow skull. That could just be confirmation bias on my part.

While I do believe eventually, and possibly soon after this, there was foul play, I don’t think anything untoward was happening as of this photo.

Delos Crowell

Should have read this before I commented lol. Do u know if this particular spot was apart of the trail they went on?

Ben

After days reviewing the evidence, I’m now going to share a synopsis of what I believe happened there in the deep, dark cloud forest of Panama. From the summit, they decided to go in a bit deeper, or just took the wrong exit path by mistake. I suspect the timestamps on some images are incorrect. Image 505 is actually the last image before the night photos.

Before that, in image 507 & 508, you can see Kris in a stiff, nervous posture, because the girls saw someone they were afraid of closing in. This person was a local cleric. A priest of sorts. He threatened them with a machete, and led them to a sacrificial alter. A wave of deadly exorcisms have griped the country, under the guise of religion, at the hand of a death cult. There have been several mass graves uncovered there in the last year alone.

In image 505, it is around 4:30 PM on April 1st. Kris is hunched over beside a sacrificial alter with hands tied behind her. To the left hangs a cow skull smeared with blood, perhaps worn during the sacrifices. There are dead animals and skeletons strewn all across the ground. Some of them are human, including several skulls and a young girls intact corpse, in the bottom right, with a large hole in the head. To the right of the body is a cross fashioned out of two poles, as is customary in Panama.

The grimace on Kris’ face is because she is in pain. She’s been beaten into submission. There’s a blood splatter on her leg from her tendon being cut, to keep her from running away. The abductor did not take their things because he’s not a thief. He believes he is working for God.

The next morning, on April 2nd, a substantial earthquake of magnitude 6.0 hits Panama at 11:13 AM. The abductor is a deeply religious man, in his own demented way, and he sees this as a sign from God. Fearing that these two strangers may bring the wrath of God upon him, he releases them into the jungle.

They are free now. But they are hurt and they are lost. It is high noon and they have no way of telling which direction to go. They know that you’re supposed to find a river, so they set out in search. Progress is slow because at least one of them has a cut tendon. They keep trying to call emergency.

For the next four days they travel. It’s too cold to sleep at night, so they try to keep moving, until, in the darkness Kris falls down a ravine, hitting her head, and going into a coma. Lisanne sets up a SOS with toilet paper and a mirror, hoping to get the attention of the helicopters. She has no idea that her parents are about to arrive in Panama. And she can only hope that Kris will wake up. She ties the red bags to branches so they can spot her if they get near. Her phone is dead. She uses Kris’ phone, instinctively entering her own pin number. It doesn’t matter. The emergency calls still don’t go through.

Two days pass. Nothing. It is the morning of April 8th. It begins to rain. It’s so cold. Kris has been unconscious for days. Lisanne believes her dead. She realizes she has to try to find the river and decides to leave at dawn. She makes a last effort to wake her friend. Then uses the flash to take many photos of the area, so she can return for Kris after finding help. At dawn the rain stops and she sets out.

For the next three days she keeps moving, weakened by exposure to the elements and at the edge of starvation. Search parties are looking for her. But she’s too far out now. When someone does finally find her, it’s the last people she would want to be found by.

The local jungle tribes people have been looking for the girls. They’ve been promised much if they deliver Feliciano hard evidence of the girls death. The police, the media attention, the suspicions on him. He wants the gringos to go away and leave him in peace. And they won’t leave until they know all hope is lost. One day in June, the tribespeople bring him what he wants; The backpacks and the bodies. They place the evidence where it can be found, brining the matter to a close.

A year later, two tourists following the same trail are robbed at gunpoint. They lose their money and leave Panama with their lives. Two years later, a 23 year old American woman is strangled to death while walking the trails. The jungle knows how to keep its secrets. But in the last year, several mass graves have been unearthed, revealing to the world a dark practice of human sacrifice which is thriving in the jungles of Panama.

Julia

What if she was trying to get fire with the mirror and the paper?

Ben Dover

I no longer believe there was any mirror; What we see is instead is the lid of a soft food container (you can see the food stuck around the edges). Probably something like peanut butter, which is a typical energy-dense low cost food carried by people who are traveling light.

I suspect the food may have been left with them when they were abandoned by drug traffickers (who initially abducted them on April 1st) after Kris was hurt crossing the monkey bridge.

There is an illustration drawn on Kris’s back in the hair photo. If someone can determine a gang affiliation for that image, it might be possible to determine where the traffickers were from.

I’ve found that there are in fact two native type people visible in the night photos. A man and a woman. The man’s face is clearly visible standing behind the rock with the red bags. And the hair photo shows him holding Kris by the neck (you can see his fingers, one wearing a silver ring with faces engraved on it).

There’s a lot of information in the photos but people are willfully blind to it for some reason. I suspect some are aware of these things but want to cover it up.

I’m starting to think the girls were lured to Panama by some kind of human trafficking organization that might even be run out of the Netherlands. Notice how Juan has actively injected false information into the public investigation, including a picture of 4 people standing in a pond with heavily photo edited faces (one of them has their head moved off of the neck in a very obvious edit).

And remember that the legitimate photos we have came from Juan. So it’s kind of curious that the most critical images are either cropped or missing entirely. I think Juan is actively trying to protect this human trafficking agency. God only knows how many people they’ve done this to in the last decade.

dacheese

“I’ve found that there are in fact two native type people visible in the night photos. A man and a woman. The man’s face is clearly visible standing behind the rock with the red bags. And the hair photo shows him holding Kris by the neck (you can see his fingers, one wearing a silver ring with faces engraved on it).” In which photos? Why are you not sharing their photo number, why are you stating generalities, let me help you, there is a link with all the photos https://koudekaas.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-disappearance-of-kris-kremers-and_11.html I haven’t spotted the finger with the silver ring in photo IMG_0580 that’s the name of the “hair photo”, and in the “night photos” you found out… that there are not one but two individuals that are of native origin nonetheless, which specific photos led you to that conclusion?

Christopher Stafford

What you are seeing is simply from the pattern of the foliage and shadows and light patterns impacting on the image. Nothing more sinister than that. Stop trying to read too much into it.

Wild, fanciful and completely false.

Haha, I’m assuming this is a joke, right? I like the wit and sarcasm.

Maria

Este rosto é de uma jovem que está angustiada,aterrorizada sem saber o que fazer para se salvar. Estou certa que não foi Lisanne que a tirou. Ela está apavorada Minha Querida menina

Jillian

So if you look behind her bottom there’s a patch of light which is the light at the other end of this tunnel and she’s holding her right hand up to her face to sweep back a piece of hair. I don’t think there’s anything untoward I think she’s saying look at this tunnel.

Tim

Hey I’m not sure if someone already pointed it out but does everyone see the orange drawing on the bottom right? That looks kinda like a monster

Blunderbuss

Very interesting and thorough analysis. Reading this reminded me of another photo the girls took of a branch with what appears to be red plastic attached to it. The hanging object and other points of interest you highlighted reminded me of this. Do you think this could be at all relevant? Photo link: https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-CJKQMGxJ1Kc/XH7ld3XtSnI/AAAAAAAAjOg/kechIb5Cge8msf5kRVinBCrEjIiBCl7TwCLcBGAs/s1600/7reCdlm.jpg

Justin

Actually here’s uncompressed upscaled original image (upscaled and color corrected with AI)

Much, much more revealing. Especially the beams and details, and the cave behind her.

https://u.cubeupload.com/beavermatic/KrisKremersFullPhoto.jpg

Alice

Her hands are not tied behind her back! She is clearly shielding her eyes from the sun by holding her right arm up. She is looking down to the left and appears to be shocked by what she sees. Although it might be the sun that gives her face a strange expression. I also think that we are looking at man-made roof structure, but it’s not the last photo, right? So they made it out of there…

Sher

The picture with her standing at cave entrance is also the same place she was standing in dark way off in background. The picture people think she is looking down she is hanging with hands tied behind her back. Her face is swollen from being hit, her neck is bleeding, multiple cuts all over plus you can see someone sitting on ground behind her watching. Someone called her so she turning to look at them. The night picture she is standing in same spot and someone is doing something to her lower leg or foot ,you can see them under her. The rock isn’t about the twig it’s got chunks of flesh and blood splatter all over it to the right and back of rock. This girl was tortured before they killed her. So many clues in all these pictures. RIP sweet girls

I upscaled that image with AI correction and it’s 100x more clear that there is obviously a trap or makeshift roofing above her.

You can even see clear rods in the red areas towards the top going straight through. Like a trap net or something.

Link to upscale here:

https://i.postimg.cc/3xK4Pdmb/Kris-Kremers-Full-Photo-Highest-Res-auto-x1-1-photos-v2-faces-x2-colored-toned.jpg

Hi Justin, great work with sharpening this image. I’m very impressed.

How long does an “AI correction” take for you to do? Have you performed this same work on any of the other case photos? This could be a very handy skill to our team. Here’s more info:

https://imperfectplan.com/2020/12/09/research-team-update-join-us/

Jim

Does anyone know where this photo was taken in relation to their happy photos taken at the top of the Continental divide? I think the last three photos of Kris show a definite change in mood.

Yes, this was taken after their photos at the Mirador. It was taken on the Continental Divide exactly 14 minutes and 12 seconds after their photos at the Mirador. You can find more information about on this article:

https://imperfectplan.com/2021/02/24/kremers-froon-new-case-data-timestamps-of-missing-daytime-photos/

Sue

Hi Justin, Well done the image is really sharp now. As well as lots of other things It shows her right arm more clearly and it looks as though there is something square where you would expect her right elbow to be – strange. Perhaps Kris is already caught in the trap and that’s why she is in a funny position and her waist is drawn in tight. Sorry to send so many messages Chris, but as a policewoman I have never liked to give up on a case..

Ya

Hello The blue thing on the ground looks like a blue tarp and that looks like a corner sticking out.

Helle

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_JheETl6Obg

I think that I read somewhere that something blue was found on one of the shoes. At the beginning of this video I think I see some blue dye/paint/powder on one of the men’s legs and something blue on the floor. Does blue have something to do with this strange punishment ritual? Can it explain Lisanne’s foot that was broken?

Mel

Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been into crime shows lately and my husband says I should be an investigator because I’m obsessed. Haha. Life of a stay at home home. So I see men in the cave. Yes, I think it’s the entrance to a short cave. Might look harmless and untouched which is why she is standing so close but then she is either caught or trapped in a booby trap lol. I also see the handing ornament, whatever that is called and definitely a roof structure with leaves and branches above her. She clearly thinks she’s found something amazing. Sadly, shortly after, she meets someone she fears and call the police.

There’s A red plastic bag above Kris in a tree to her left. It’s texture and color seemingly resembles the red bag tied to the SOS stick on the rock later on, imo

Kate Black

What is that clear brown glass-looking circle in the upper righthand corner? Around 2 o’clock. I also see something above the brown circle, like a ring of colored balls or ???? Lastly, I totally see animal pelts inside the “structure”. Like jaguar? And the weird flesh colored thing hanging in the tree to her left could be a skinned animal. Does anyone see what I see? Thanks in advance!

Gary Compton

Hi Chris, great work by you on this. I think this photo in particular is odd. In fact the last 4 (pre-nightime) photos are at odds with the others. Would the girls really be so far apart in dense jungle? Especially the one where Kris is holding a water bottle 30-40ft from the photo-taker. On closer inspection this and the ‘cave’ photo appear heavily manipulated. ‘Cave’ photo: to Kris’ left is a huge dark area that has been poorly obscured with pixellation. The green ‘rock’ directly in front of Kris appears to float in space. I think this has been added to hide the fact that Kris was not wearing boots, as this was a shot of her from somewhere else and superimposed on the jungle scene. The left-side of her head is not hair or her hand, but just the foliage in the background. Her stance is weird – there is nothing of note she could be looking at and it is difficult to tell what her right arm is doing. I think she is pointing, but at something else in another location. Also, people do not give off a rosy glow from their backs, as can be seen here. I think in the original photo she is putting on her backpack, stretching her arm and back, and the backpack has been airbrushed out because of course she didn’t take that with her. ‘Water bottle’ photo: again, this has been superimposed on the scene and again her feet are obscured because she is not wearing boots. The whole scene is odd why is Lisanne (if it was her) standing miles away? If it is a photo-op, why is Kris not waving her hands or something. This is a fake and the pixellation errors can be seen up close (the gap in the crook of her right arm is IN FRONT OF her).

Who did the manipulation of course is a mystery but it points to being a corroboration of the police narrative that they got lost. I can’t imagine the rednecks in Alto Romero or the lads from Calderas having the wit to bother with it. If the Calderas photo is genuine as you believe, then I sadly think the two girls were killed shortly after by the two young men (and possibly the taxi driver), and the police knew and bumped the lot off.

For pareidiologists, in the ‘Cave’ photo on the right just over halfway from Kris’ head to the edge of the photo there is an arm and hand tied to a tree, and to the right of Kris’ leg is the sole of a walking boot with a light stripe down the middle.

It would also be useful to know if the metatarsal bones of Lisanne’s foot had showed any signs of healing. If so, it would indicate that she had been kept alive for a few weeks or more. I have seen some gruesome stuff where a captor will smash the feet of a captive to prevent escape.

Yasmin Malik

Yessss!! This! I noticed this too. As soon as I zoomed in, my heart sank for her. Hands tied behind her back, face looks a bit puffy too, as if been in an altercation of sorts. She looks disorientated almost

They probably came off the summit the wrong way. There were no signs at that time. Easily done, I have done that myself several times.

A path looks different anyway when you walk back the other way so they would not be aware they were not heading the right way and carried on.

Problem with that is that you would think they would simply turn round once they realised.

Could be that they were trying to avoid somebody on the trail, went off the oath & got lost. I don’t think there was actual foul play.

The calls bother me though. First calls at 16:39 then nothing again for 14 hours? Why would that be?

Katie

Gary, great work on noticing things in such detail. If you zoom in on the picture, I noticed that her face almost seems distorted, almost as though it was swelled up? I just would like to know if you see that as well?

Diana

Her hands could be tied behind her back but, if this is the case, then much computer editing was involved because other photos that come AFTER this one in camera sequence show Kris’s walking ahead of Lisanne WITHOUT her hands tied behind her back. So, unless there was camera tampering (that may be since one photo was apparently deleted digitally), her hands are not tied.

Foul play is very likely. Two intelligent girls could not be veering off course to this dense vegetation on their own accord. It is a suicide decision and they, experienced travellers, know that. They didn’t take anything with them for more than 1 or 2 hours max journey. The photos give the appearance that they are PROMPTED to go ahead by someone. That’s why Kris stops in photos once in a while as if to say “this way, right?”

Del

Oy vey… I didn’t catch this before, but seeing it now it sort of made my eyes water a bit. Realizing just how much trouble these two could have been in. I could be wrong, but to me this looks like it could be a hunting device of sorts, like a pit/catch trap. I know that in previous photos there are trenches like this one naturally occurring throughout the jungle due to erosion, but this one doesn’t appear to be from that. Also, the other ones aren’t covered by man-made support structures. The picture just before this one appears to be higher in elevation, meaning that from the direction they were coming, a pit trap being place around this area could/would be ideal.

As a side note, if all of the photos are in the order in which they were taken, why do they put their hair up, and take it down so much? Seems weird.

There is definitely a face on that the post/tree to the right of Kris.

It seems to be made up of white paint, at least like a tribal looking face of white paint. It’s at the very top of the post.

Looks like some of sort of indigenous artifact/trail marker.

Stephanie

And one of the branches near the middle appears to have scales or a pattern not natural to a tree branch.

Rainforest NW

Interesting that you…. actually name names.

Celeste I. Martinez

The consumption of Ayahuasca as a religious experimental drug is becoming very common in different countries. The 2020 ‘cristian’ massacre was committed by a couple of men who were definitively altered in their state and ‘heard’ voices etc. This observation of yours is amazing, the girls could have stumbled upon something and been victims. Nothing can explain the bones, the cut foot, their underwear in one of the backpacks. Someone mentioned a Jaguar? no, Jaguars fear humans and do not hunt them as tigers do in India. Even if that had happened, the skeleton would have been more intact and scratch marks would have been found on the bones. I am from Panama, and I know that there are way more dangerous drug and crime cartels active in remote parts of the country than officials want to admit to because the tourism would be affected. Thanks for sharing this info. Make sure you contact someone with this info. It could help shed more light onto the possible answer to the mystery.

LT

If you follow down from the two red objects, there appears to be something that looks almost like blocks or siding shingles. It appears further down as well. Is it possible that there is a building or some sort of structure behind the vegetation? That would account for a canopy structure being built there. Perhaps the women were lured there to be shown something.

S.

Does anyone else see what looks like the back of someone’s head, their bare back and arm inside the “manmade “ circular object? It looks like an indigenous person with shiny black hair walking away from Kris. It even appears they have some kind tattoo on their back. If that’s what I’m seeing, I have no doubt that it was murder and that this photo and several others have been manipulated.

The red and black objects look like bolt cutters or tree cutter. Also I see a black pipe if you look carefully near one of the red and black objects the one that was circled. Right above it.

I think it would be nice for a botanist to take a look at the vegetation. I wonder if the two red objects are flowers? It appears to me that Kris has her right arm to her right temple and you can see part of her left elbow. What I find most concerning is her face. It looks as though she has a “mouse” under her right eye. Like you would get from being hit. I believe that by the time this photo was taken, the situation has gone sideways. Such a tragedy.

Someone was with the girls when the two photos of them were taken on the Pianista summit. (The photos where the sky is suddenly cloudy). It’s a subtle difference, but you can tell the girls’ smiles are forced in those two photos and are not like the natural happy smiles in the other summit photos. You can bet your life if someone was with them at that point, then they were the culprits who had something to do with the girls’ disappearance. Looking forward to reading what Bethzaida Pitti comes out with in the book she is co-authoring about the case. Maybe the girls did perish deep in the jungle, but that doesn’t rule out somebody causing them to get lost.

Thanks for your comment. I think it’s very possible that someone was with them or joined them along the way at some point. We can only speculate without more evidence of that.

Also, I’m looking forward to reading the new book as well, particularly what Pitti has to say. I wrote about the upcoming book here:

https://imperfectplan.com/2020/12/09/new-book-coming-spring-2021-kris-kremers-and-lisanne-froon-case/

I’m not expecting any major reveals from Pitti – she’ll probably just reinforce her previous statements with more insights. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see.

Thanks and cheers.

I wanted to share this article from a big newspaper in Panama. This lady, Pitti, she is under much suspicion as she practically botched the investigation efforts with her repeated lack of discipline in collecting and documenting and directing the case. Please read. I would not pay much attention to what she has to say as it sounds like she wrote this book to try to justify/clear herself from all the criticism she garnered through this experience: https://www.laestrella.com.pa/nacional/141020/of-piece-medical-studies-examiner

Hi Chris thanks for the link to the book. I would certainly buy it if it had been printed in English. Have you managed to obtain a copy? Do the additional photos reveal anything more? I feel that unless they do or unless further forensic work has shown something more then, no matter what the experts in survival say, it is still only speculation and not proof.

Steve Ryder

Hi, do you know when and where this book will be available?

N

Where did u see that picture ? Give me a link

Haley Vest

Theres a red cord tied around her waist that wasn’t on her in any of the other photos. Her face also appears to be heavily damaged, bruised and bleeding and her hair appears to have been pulled out and or cut as its sticking out in ways that don’t seem normal for her ponytail..

It also looks like that red item is around her neck as well.

Runak

I think that the taxi driver knew who has killed them that’s why sb killed him, the guide man who found the bones and their belongings can be the murderer and he was the person went to their room maybe to find the cable charge maybe pretending that he hadn’t visited them on the reserved time, then he put their bag and money and camera for police because he was scared they search his house too, the locals heard screaming and then a crash (broken bones due to fall) in the jungle 4 days after their missing and warned about that to some french tourist, this article is long and I didn’t sleep last night. scary https://koudekaas.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-disappearance-of-kris-kremers-and.html

Tom Horne

I’m sure removal of the comment was justified, but in considering all possibilities I’m curious if there was there any insight offered?

Hi Tom, I believe you intended to comment above, on @SwordOfGod’s comment. The removed comment provided nothing helpful in any respect, and was merely to get attention and reactions.

Kelly

It looks as if there is a guy standing off the edge in the tunnel. Slight left and up from the girl. And that looks to be a stocker style stand

Celi

I don’t understand the question. You’re asking why didn’t they try to call a friend or family member WHEN THEY COULDNT EVEN GET A SIGNAL TO THE POLICE? Again NO SIGNAL! There was no signal!! Whatever happened I believe was not from a “man” following them. I can’t explain it but again it resembles so many of the bizarre cases which author and former cop David Paulides has brought (thousands of these similar events) right here in the US and Canada. The backpack being found with all its contents including money and not even dirty let alone wet after weeks of constant rain-found a day after the area was checked. Right on the bank of the river/stream. Even the bones, the few that remain. These are all similar in so many of the cases in his “Missing 411” series. I implore those who are intrigued by this to read his books. Stories which he’s found in archives going back as early as 1500s until modern day… all Facts and all true. I’ve been to Brasil and the Amazon and spent nights there in the rain with a crowd though. But during my time spending a year there in 2015 (at the time I’d not heard of this case), I had asked around about legends within the jungle and there is in fact legends from tribes who never interacted and are thousands of miles apart which regress of some “THING” that comes from the sky or trees that is not visible to humans but devours then to the bone. Basically akin to that in the movie “the predator”.

Janel

I was definitely thinking it looks like her hands might be tied behind her back here.

Anna Tanneberger

Yes! as a hiker myself, it would be totally unnatural to hold your hands behind your back in that way AND bend your body AND twist your body out of alignment. Her whole body is facing towards the right in the picture, almost in profile to the camera, with even her right leg in front of her left leg (a dancer would tell you that her whole body would much more naturally turn to the left, away from the camera) – and then only her face turning right, towards the camera, the upper part of her body following slightly. She is NOT looking at the ground, but at the camera, with her face up. All very different from the happy silly girlie pictures at the beginning.

Louie

That’s the very first thing that crossed my mind…

razeezar

This is an interesting analysis, of this photos and the case in general. There is discussion in reference to a possible cave, but is there any evidence that the girls found a cave besides perhaps Kris’s hair appearing unusually dry in the night photos?

It would be interesting to know exactly where this photo was taken – Is it along the main trail north of the Mirador en route to the stream crossing? Or perhaps it’s an offshoot from the trail along a natural gully that leads to a dead-end? The area behind Kris is quite shadowed, but this seems to me to be more likely dense foliage than a cave. It’s almost as if Kris is in the midst of turning back around at the moment this photo is taken, due to the foliage becoming too dense to proceed any further.

Then consider Kris and Lisanne’s parents when they trekked with a group along the trail, across two streams, until they reached a field with the disintegrating fence posts and the tall lone tree some hundred meters away. They talk as if it would be difficult to branch off the trail, but maybe they did not notice other paths that could have been taken?

Is it possible that Kris and Lisanne reached this field with fencing (past the second stream crossing) and mistook this place to be a different entry to the farm areas which are closer to the trail head ? If so, they may have wandered across the field looking for the original path back and got themselves well and truly lost.

In any case, this doesn’t give any insight as to why there are no photos taken from that day beyond the first stream crossing.

nzam

i found it hard to understand and pickup any of the highlighted objects….i grew up in a tropical country and spent a lot of my childhood exploring woods and secondary jungles around my home with my friends…the way i see it is that the girl have encountered a thick unpenetrable undergrowth at the end of some sort of a gorge….maybe in an effort to find a way through or out of it….when youre at ground level in a jungle its just a green world and colour hues jumbled up in some sort of a mess….and after a while you started noticing odds shapes n colours through the leaves…occassinally there will be thrash thrown around….just my thoughts…

Scott

Wow. Incredible work and interest- level regarding the fate of these human spirits. After exhaustive thought, my theory:

First, respect to family, friends, and the good.

I believe one fell. At that time, she had her phone.

One was left above. She decided to attempt to reach her friend, or help via phone.

She then left the descriptive marker.

The ambulatory friend began to assess how she might reach her friend, but underestimated the difficulty involved, thereby becoming less able to extricate herself from the jungle.

When she finally reached her friend, it was basically too late, or very close to it.

One perished, and then the other.

All items were in one place at this point, and together the elements and biology dispersed them and kept some for the jungle.

The final photo may have been eliminated after thought by the still remaining friend, as it may have been too traumatic for her.

Shock and fear and protecting their family from pain was the goal.

Being disoriented, and losing a companion, hunger, asthma…

This is merely an attempt to make sense.

Speculation is painful.

The truth will always be theirs.

Elissa

Yes there’s a man to her left crouched down wearing beige/ beige/ brown. Just behind her tied hand area. He has a weapon like o jr t in his hands.

aiden

They had plans to meet men there as their boyfriends.Check men they used to Date or seen.

sdrted

== REMOVED BY MODERATORS ==

SwordOfGod

What kind of twisted f*ck stick makes this kind of comment?

Thanks for pointing this out. I’ve removed their comment and blocked them from reposting.

bob

It would be scarey.they could got attack by animal.

I too believe this is most likely what happened. one girl got hurt, i think in the fall the camera got wet and bumped. if you break your ankle in a fall and die your foot is likely to be found IN the shoe as is what happened. I think they were lost. Exhausted and waited somewhere near water for days. I think the camera dried and started working again and they took pictures at night. Maybe one girl regained consciousness at night and took the pictures. Packed up the bag, left it, and tried to walk out. Rainfall probably washed the bag into the water. Or locals found the bodies and stole the bag and items. Only returning them in hopes of getting the reward. I wonder why the girls didn’t do any text messages… even if they never got through? Were their phones not able to text? Or if someone deleted them?

Jennifer Levine

THANK GOD SOMEONE IS SEEING WHAT I SEE. I HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THE PIT PICTURE FOR YEARS, YOU CLEARLY SEE A GATELIKE STRUCTURE OVER THE PIT

I don’t see any pit. I have spent a lifetime walking in the forest near my home and I don’t see the odd things that people see. What I DO see is a very definite path. A well-worn path. And it seems to be leading to a dead-end. Could be that the path turns sharp right or left (out of the frame) or continues up ahead after a short scramble. But she is definitely on a well-worn path. Well-worn paths do not lead into a pit.

Perhaps someone has just hit Kris on the right side of her head and she is putting her hand up to where it hurts. She can’t be shielding her eyes from the sun, as no shadow is falling over her eyes. However, if this photo showed that someone had hit her, why would the culprit not delete it along with photo 509. It would also show that the photos had been truly messed about with, as this one is supposed to come before the photos of her crossing the stream. Perplexing to say the least.

I was looking at the photographs again and something caught my eye. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not. When the girls were vacationing in South Panama it shows a photo of them in the ocean, and behind them in the ocean is a fat white man seemingly staring at them. Jump forward to Boquette now and you will see a photo of the girls in the street, and behind them is a shirtless fat white man. Could it be the same man in both photos

Jorge Ortiz

He leído toda la compilación y visto la mayoría de videos. Hay incongruencias en fechas y horas de los testigos y de los registros de los teléfonos y la cámara, pero lo que más me ha inquietado es la foto 506. Ella divide en dos la historia: las fotos anteriores a la 506 son de alegría, la foto 506 es de pánico y la 507 y 508 de preocupación. El después, es pánico y preocupación. Los expertos en conductas humanas (psicólogos, antropólogos, etc.), podrían darnos explicaciones de la posición del cuerpo, de las manos y la expresión del rostro en la foto 506. Kris en esta foto, tiene sus manos atrás, que podrían estar atadas o esposadas . Yo veo en el fondo de la foto 506, adjunto al muslo, la pierna y el pie izquierdo de Kris, una silueta de un hombre joven, con sombrero de copa alta y ala ancha (al estilo de los sheriff norteamericanos), con una manta blanca sobre sus hombros,tronco y brazos y un rifle o escopeta en posición horizontal sobre sus manos.

That is an interesting photo taken of Kris Kremers under the slatted roof. Is the time that photo was taken known? I would think they had to be pretty far into the jungle to have come across that slat roof structure. Was it taken on the afternoon of April 1st before their first distress call?

Ray

Why go to another country to hike when America and other safer countrys have plenty of hiking places ?

Hi Ray, thank you for your comment. Adventurers and travelers seek different experiences. Being in a foreign country, in the tropical rainforests, especially for young curious minds, is a very unique experience. Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon were both adventurers.

I’ve travelled through Central and South America quite a bit and these experiences can’t be found elsewhere. Certainly, each country around the world offers valuable experiences in their own way. Central America is notably inexpensive, free spirited, less commercialized and is typically hospitable to travelers, therefore many travelers from around the world seek these adventures.

One could argue that the inherent risk of traveling to under-developed countries is exciting for the reason that there’s potential danger and less authoritative control. On one hand, it’s more liberating and freeing. On the other hand, it’s more dangerous and risky.

joseph rufo

as soon as u see 1 photoshopped pic u know something is wrong,, the bag turned up to keep the police from searching the jungle

Hi Joseph, Thanks for your comment. Can you provide more information about photos of the girls “being in bad shape”? Where did you hear this? I’m very curious – I’ve heard rumors but have never found verified information. Also, where did learn that her brother mistakenly put the hair photo online? Thanks for any information you can provide.

All comments are held for moderation prior to being published. No replies are deleted except in rare cases of spam, inappropriate language/links, or disrespect to another contributor.

Thank you and cheers

Hello Chris, did you ever get any background on the statements made by Joseph? I’d love to know if these pics exsist.

Hi Louie, Unfortunately no. I never received a response.

After the backpack was found the family got to see the pictures and the case was ruled an accident presumably the 30 or so pics the family didnt release showed the girls in bad shape,, the case went from foul play to accident after the pics were seen.. the pic of the girls hair was put on internet by her brother or something like that and was quickly photoshopped , the wound and eye were concealed

If you think America is a “safe” country you’re extremely ignorant or niieve. This story and all the bizarre features surrounding it as strange as they are, are actually very much similar to the thousands that have been put together by former cop and forest ranger David Pauladis’ series of books “Missing 411”. 90% take place right here in the US in state parks. The FBI and others have continuously tried to stonewall him from publicly making these cases and their bizarre circumstances publicly known.

Celi

If you think America is safe you are ignorant! Do you have any idea how many people of all ages go missing here every single day. Hundreds! Fact. Check out David Paulides’s accounts of people who go missing every day in state parks. It’s disturbing.

Janice

Looks like she’s holding her hand up to shield her eyes

E

It looks like a turtle shell hanging on the right side of the picture (it’s further up). Also right inside the cave looks like a fox or something similar is painted on the rock. And her shirt is pushed up.

Jim

To Janice – To me it looks as if she’s holding up one hand cupping her ear as if to hear something being shouted to her.

Anna

That’s what I see as well. Like she was scouting and turned back to talk to Lisanne, shielding her eyes from the sun to see her.

Lori

Omg…Im staring at this pic. It does look like a manmade structure. The sign actually looks like a door with light shining thru….thats crazy.

Jonathan Scott

I am thinking while I am writing so please be patient with me. I bounce around a little and try to get to the crux of the issue. I am trying not to speculate but where is the firm incontrovertible starting point?

We are dealing with history here. History is not a science but it can include some science. We have no final police report only a lot of leaked info much second hand and multiple hand. Hard noncontroversial evidence is very limited and what there is is open to interpretation. I must have been living in a cave and totally preoccupied with myself when this happened because I only stumbled across this via a Youtube video ( one of many) by Juan Perea Y Monsuwé on Friday. He has collected much that is out there but still the majority is second hand and we have no information as to the voracity. He goes down some intriguing avenues which while I may not agree with either the direction or point have value because they stimulate me to think.

How certain are we that they started at the trail head as we are told? Is this in dispute? I have seen comment to suggest that they could have made the trip to the divide returned and then gone to another place but then why no more fotos on either phone or camera? Did they each have a camera or only Lisanne? if both then was the other found in their room?

I would start at both ends of the trail meaning working forward from where they started their walk and backwards from where their pathetic remains were found. If it is not possible to join those two points together then that would at least shine light on the possibility that a third party was involved at some point leading to the appauling possibility that they genuinely were lost for some time (until the 5th?) and then found by someone and then the real nightmare started.

What is clear is that on that fateful day the girls went out for a short hike and never came back. They were only 2 weeks into their trip and only on their 4th day in Boquete so they were innocents abroad and would have been broadcasting that to all who cared to look.

Everything suggests they had no clue what they were doing when they took the taxi to the start of the trail. Wearing minimal clothing, no knife of compass which were left in their room. We do not know what other clothing or items they possibly took. This was incredibly naive but then they only just arrived.. What took them past the divide? Had someone told them about something worth seeing? Also why did they go alone without a guide? So many questions and there is no clear starting place like a police report to read.

Something drastic happened it is clear but what exactly and where exactly? The theories go from accident to a crime to a combination of both. Regarding accidents (My father a doctor always said accidents do not exist. Bu that he meant an outcome which had no human input to the consequences. They are 99.999999% preventable. The overriding input is human. It is clear they contributed much to this by their actions.

From my own gutt feeling I see only a very preventable accident. Why? because why else would they have continued access to their phones for the next week? OK I see the conspiracy theorists saying someone else had their phones but who else would know to try 112 which is the common emergency number for EU countries? Also we are in the realms of Hollywood if we need such a calm and calculating mind at work other than those of the girls to abduct and or kill them and then orchestrate a smokescreen. The simplest is for them to disappear…. incredibly complicated for a new story to be written.

It IS strange that the attempted SOS calls were so few. That does not make sense if they were genuine. Also there is a consistency to the timing of SOS attempts occurring two times each day +/ a few minutes of the exact same time. WHY? This makes no sense. If you are sending an SOS message then they are received 24 hours a day. Also mobile signals are better at night yet no calls were attempted. The limited number of attempts especially on the first day is very strange. I would expect especially on the first day for total panic to occur and multiple attempts to be made until a decision was made to save battery strength. Also and I am assuming the phones where in their possession the phones actually did acquire a signal some times but clearly they were not being used so they did not know.

Let me dampen the third party argument by asking IF their end was at the hands of another person…why not simply bury the rucksack rather than all the elaborate need for photoshopping and phones used in the hands of a third party… ?

Phone records. What is peculiar is that there were no attempts to contact anyone other than the emergency services. There IS anecdotal info that Lisannes BF made contact with her at 1400 or so on the 1st April but maybe that was Dutch time not Panama time? Maybe the girls were not so clever at tech but they did not leave voice or video memos to document their predicament… not goodbye messages for family. The camera had a video function this could have been used including of course sound. Whatever happened and if it did not include a third party must have been serious and traumatic because we live in selfie times and as can be seen from their earlier fotos… they were in the selfie zone. I just find it strange that no video diary or fotos of each other made after 508.

There is much speculation about the night time fotos made using the Cannon. They make no sense in spite of the speculation. It is almost as if they are deliberately not to tell anything rather than the much speculated “something”. Also why make them at night and not during the day? Why no video diary? This is why the ping data can help because it can show if they were in one place or moving.

As for the wrong password entry. I do not know. Do mobile phones store the number entered? If so then those could tell some information. But even when a phone is locked after thee attempts the screen says emergency calls only. Something happened between the morning and afternoon of the 5th because it was in the afternoon that a wrong pin was entered and subsequently every time thereafter. This means either the user became incapacitated and was not operating the phone or was seriously confused.

I could go on and on but to conclude.

Between taking the last foto (Nr 508) at 12:54 local time and the first SOS call at 16:39 local time something happened. This was either something catastrophic or a developing situation due for example to them getting lost. Why no more fotos were taken after 508 on the 1st until the nighttime session on the 7/8th? To begin with his suggests either they walked into dense dark forest so there was no foto ops or it stopped being fun and started to become serious so somewhere not far beyond that stream did they met a fateful fork in the path which took them towards oblivion.

If their experience was catastrophic that that happened shortly before 16:36 UNLESS both were incapacitated and sense only returned at 16:36. It would be interesting to see a map of possible mobile blackspots because it seems where ever they were IF STATIONARY then they were on the extreme edge or reception dependent on atmospherics. and happened to Kris that would explain why Lisanne’s phone was first one used to make an SOS call. What I find unusual is that in a panic they did not repeatedly try unless she kept pressing redial and that does not register as a second attempt. What confuses this is that after Kris’s phone dies then on the 5th during the afternoon SOS attempt a wrong pin is input on Lisanne’s phone and indeed continues to be input until the end.

I become very confused and not starting from Go and not knowing what is fact and what is anecdotal I just do not know. I would like to know their movements precisely from arriving in Boquete. Where they went and who they talked to in order to build up an idea about what motivated them to take that fateful walk and what information could have taken them down the other side of the divide. Also important is who they met because two tall and very attractive new arrivals would certainly get all the boys tongues wagging.

A very disturbing and sad mystery.

French Emma

^ But the galvanized sign marking the terminus of the Pianista isn’t really the “end of the trail.” In fact, there’s a very obvious, albeit mud-choked, passage that goes down the other side of the crest—only to intersect with an entire web of paths constructed and used primarily by members of the indigenous Ngobe tribe. These nameless trails aren’t monitored or maintained by park rangers. They’re also exceptionally rugged and dangerous, especially during the April-to-October wet season. The Lost Girls of Panama: The Full Story ^ From that point the trail leads over another dangerous cable bridge, and two more rickety plank swing-bridges, before reaching the Ngobe village of Alto Romero on the banks of the Culebra. The Lost Girls of Panama: The Full Story

Zach P

The photo to me appears that she simply is bending over to get the sun out of her eyes, with her right hand help up to shield the sun. However being one of the last photos taken this location would be incredibly important to have investigated back in 2014 (or even still). The rock in the riverbed is very distinctive – was this location ever found and explored? Clearly the trash on the rocks indicates it had active people.

Jason

Didn’t they cross the line where it had a clear sign not to cross it? If anything, that is an evidence that they were taking more risks than a regular tourist/hiker, so being lost and/or injured seems to me much more reasonable explanation (than murdered) based on that.

Hi Jason, thanks for you comment. From my understanding, there was no warning signs on the trail. They added a caution sign after their disappearance for this exact reason. I previously read that online, although it was a while ago and I can’t remember where I read that. If you find more info about this, please feel free to share it. Thanks and cheers.

Nick Montanaro

The black and red object above is clearly a decayed plant leaf. You will notice another branch of dead leaf just below it. It belongs to the long green leaves we are seeing up there. The red is the sunlight shining through the dead curled leaves. There is no question that’s what it is. The blue object looks like it could be a crushed beer can. Why is no one talking about what appears to be a rock painting or a carving 3-4 feet in front of her? (From our perspective to the right of her directly in front of her feet about waist high).

Paul Glen Nielsen

I’m curious to know if they had a camera why wouldn’t they make a final message for family telling us and them what happened? Possibly ambushed and didn’t have time? One of them probably fell got hurt, a local found them said they would help and well they didn’t help they killed them and dumped in River knowing the river would remove any evidence.

Marlene Treest

Yes indeed!I hadn’t noticed that before!is it a carved rock of sorts?.

Gigle

Probably the culprit or stupid tribe didn’t delete anything coz they took pictures on purpose .for example to sell the footage .but allready the police or parents who asked the investigator to delete it .they just simply didn’t want to show it to everyone

Do you or anyone else that you know of have any idea where in Panama this photo was taken? Thank you, and keep up the good work.

Evan

She does look slightly uneasy but I just think it was a photo she wasn’t expecting. Her hands are not tied. Right hand is on her hip/slightly behind back, the left is hanging down on her side or in her pocket I can’t tell. Does anyone know what the orange string is on the left of the photo?

Debbie, I agree. Out of all the photos that have been released this photo disturbs me the most. There just seems to be something wrong about this photo, and I don’t like her expression. I think she’s frightened

Lacie

Not only does it look like her hands are tied behind her back,but if you zoom in on just her,her expression does not look happy at all,and she is looking off to somewhere beside the camera,she isn’t even looking at the camera,and there appears to be blood in her hair on both sides of her head and her hair is clearly a mess.maybe this photo was taken after their captured, possibly by whoever captured them

One obvious question —- has anybody ever found the place that is in this photograph. The place itself might reveal some clues as to what sort of person or people would construct it and what are the chances of them doing something bad.

Thank you, Sue. I would like to know the answer to that question also. I would also like to know the time that photo was taken that day. I’ve seen the chronological order of the photos posted by Scarlet and some of the strikes me as being askew. I wish I had them as actual photographs that I could shuffle around until I can place them in the order in which I think they were taken. Does anyone agree with me?

Hi Nick, yes I would agree that the red object above is just decaying plant material. I am assuming that the rock painting you refer to is the round orange patch on the right. To me it looks like the chopped off end of a thick tree branch. Have you looked closely at what Chris has labelled the “insignia”. I don’t know what Chris means by this, but at first I thought it was a wooden post sticking up from the ground and painted white at the top. However, on closer inspection you can see that the left hand side of the “post” is really a vine or root hanging straight down and the white at the top is a patch of light in the background, as if there was a small narrow window in the bank Through which the sun is shining and it also looks as though someone is looking through it at Kris. You can see a kind of nose and lips. Someone with darkish skin. I really feel that this place is the key to what happened to the girls. Would they really have gone along a dark spooky ravine, which is obviously a dead end, if they were trying to find their way back to Boquete? I think someone took them there.

Hi Jim, That particular photo was supposed to have been taken at 1.20 pm. However, a lot of the photos seem to have been tampered with and one of them was even deleted from their camera, which could only have been done using a computer. Apparently it would also have been easy to alter the time stamps on the photos.

As you say, it might be better if you were able to lay out the photos and see how they “seem” to fit together. Are you familiar with the Koude Kaas blogs about this case? They are really good, especially parts 3 and 4, which give a lot of information about the girls’ photos. Happy reading!

Yes, thank you, Sue. I am very familiar with the Koude Kas posts.

At 2:50 they start walking up to what I believe is the location in this photograph

https://youtu.be/gnfol1KfUPc

Baber

Not a cave but an old bridge you can see the railing and bridge post and there is a weird shadow to the left behind the railing

Jane VanDeMark

That is EXACTLY what it looks like to me! I don’t know if this photo is before or after a photo where Kris appears to have mud on her legs and on her arm. ALSO, I really want to know where and when Kris quit wearing her backpack!

I read that the backpack belonged to Lisanne Froon.

Amber

I thought that as well.

Coco

She looks as if her hands are above her head in a way someone would have them if a police officer were to tell them to put their hands above their head. Maybe she’s told to put her hands up and walk into this structure. She turned around and they snapped a photo. In other pictures of her crossing water she is clearly dirty with her hair up. Maybe a struggle or fall?

Darilyn

In the picture of her in the Cave? Why are both her hands behind her back? In all the other pictures she is always got her arms visible, I find this very odd

Darcie Clark

Why were their no scratches on bones?

Jim Bennett

Who said there weren’t any scratches on the bones?

“There are no discernible scratches of any kind on the bones, neither of natural nor cultural origin— there are no marks on the bones at all. There’s no evidence that animals scavenged the Holandesas.“

– Panamanian IMELCF Forensic Anthropologist

This is from the Daily Beast interview with Jeremy Kryt titled: “The Lost Girls, the Bones, and the Man in the Panama Morgue”

Thank you, Chris. I have not read that.

Here’s what I think happened. They decided to take that short hike, but they failed to tell anyone where they were going and what time to expect them back. It’s not a very long trail and I think when they got to the end of the trail they made their really big mistake. They decided to enter the jungle, but they failed to mark their entry point into the jungle with a stack of rocks or some such marking. After frolicking in the sun and taking photos for a while they decided it was time to return home, BUT they had no idea where they entered the jungle so they could not find the way out of the jungle back go to the trail. I think this picture of Kris is a picture of her circling around looking for where they entered the jungle. They very quickly realized that they could not find the point where they entered the jungle and if they were in trouble, and that is when the 911 calls started. They were lost very shortly after arriving at their destination, And then they made a huge mistake by heading due north to find their way back home and they should have been going to the southeast.

Lolo

Best explanation I’ve heard

fgkjl

I know AMAZING explanition it is sad they are dead but my friend said they might be faking and Lisanne froon and kris kremer ate people to fake their bones but I think my friend is wrong. What do you think??

I just gave the brief overall story of what I think happened. I did not cover all of the accidents and trials and tribulations along the way leading to their death.Jim

To Jane – I just gave the brief overall story of what I think happened. I did not cover all of the accidents and trials and tribulations along the way leading to their death.

Jane, Recently I have been reading that it is not unusual for people that hike or run in dangerous places and go missing that a shoe with a foot is found. Sometimes that is all that is found. When a bad break happens at ankle level and the body decomposes and gets scavenged once the flesh and muscle is gone the foot and shoe are separated from the rest of the leg. Search shoe with foot in it found.

100 calls to 911, and NOT ONE attempted call to immediate family? NOT A SINGLE ONE? Even though both kept contact with their families daily through messaging and calls? “Forced disappearance”. In Latin America, it is as common as drinking coffee.

Lisanne would gave definitely called her mother AT LEAST ONCE because, listen to this – this is from her own diary written just two days before their disappearance: “I’m sitting here, with tears in my eyes and rolling down my cheeks….The transition from two weeks of lively holiday to stepping into the life of a real Panamanian family is just too much for me… I want MOM and dad to hold me tight and tell me that everything will be alright… I now feel like a small child of 2 yelling for her mother who is 2 meters away…”

After this, can ANYONE IN THIS WORLD still doubt that this girl WOULD NOT HAVE WRITTEN OR PHONED HER MOTHER FOR TWO WEEKS when she also called the police 100 times? Nonsense.

Marcello

I agree that her hands look like they are over head. One indication is that I cannot see the shoulder strap of her top that is obscured by her white/fair forearm.

Regarding the photos, I have no idea why they would be taking these, deleted some later and left this one, especially since the ribbed roofing structure is somewhat obvious. It would be like a marker for anyone to see.

Or whoever deleted the photos may have overlooked to delete this one as they could have done it in a hurry as well.

I think that she has her hand to her ear,she looks like she is trying to hear what someone is saying,and also,the light is in her eyes;.It looks like she has twisted herself around in doing so.

Chyna Lee

The ‘hand painted insignia’ looks more like a face to me.. I see the nose and mouth and possibly and eye, like they were trying to hide from the girls or camera and peaking behind branches… creepy

Yes, I can see that too Chyna Lee. The insignia looks more like a darkish skinned face peering through a narrow window and observing the girls from behind some sort of screen. I do not see any eyes, but I can definitely see a nose and a mouth. Hope this was not a member of one of those mad religious sects that, over the years, have been torturing and killing people in Panama. There has recently been something in the news about it.

The structure at the back of this small ravine looks like a hideout that a military man might make, as part of survival training in the jungle. Look for an ex-military man who may be the culprit. ……… Just trying to get as many ideas together as possible, so that some clue may surface one day.

Mohaiminul Islam

Nice investigation. At least the trash element and roof structure looks like very strong evidence. But, Who took the photos on later dates??If they were attacked by people immidiately after this, how they took the photos?? And if suspects were clicking photos, and knew how to operate a smartphone, they would not return the phones.

Hi Mohaiminul, you mention some good questions. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of answers to your questions.

There are plenty of reasonable explanations for why someone would have returned the phones and the backpack. Returning the phones + money immediately made it look like they weren’t attacked for robbery.

I believe the backpack was placed near the river in order to indicate where the remains would be found (like a flag), and perhaps the backpack was provided in hopes to receive the reward money, and the location of the backpack meant that searches would move to a different location (potentially because the police were too close to the suspects at the time). If one or both of the phones were missing, it would have generated more questions.

This is speculation. Of course, nobody knows exactly why things happened.

Thanks for your comment!

Only a fool thinks they were attacked by people. They got lost and they died of starvation and a hard ration, except for Chriss. Rest fell off of the one hour bridge in Bastrop brains and on the rocks below some photos show her dead body laying down there.

Hi Jim, I appreciate your comments but please lay off the language of calling people fools. You’re welcome to do that other places online. I’ve kept comments on this article open for civil and respectful discussion.

Nobody knows what happened to Kris and Lisanne and everything is open to speculation until more information is found. Some people believe the two girls got lost lost, some people believe the third-party theory and some people have mixed theories. I lean towards the third-party theory although I recognize the conflicting aspects of that theory. There’s so much conflicting information regardless of which theory is chosen. We simply don’t have enough information at this time.

Thanks and cheers

Tom

Hi Chris, I agree that discussion should be civil but this comment section has turned into something which I consider to be absolutely ridiculous. People claiming the floor is made out of skulls, that there is a booby trap above her head, that there are 5 men with rifles watching her, that there are snakes hanging down, that she is at some sort of human sacrificial alter etc.

Out of respect for the girl’s families, I think that comments like this, which I argue turn this case into some sort of entertaining Netflix series, should be removed. They do nothing to further discourse surrounding this tragedy and only attract people who think it’s fun to join in with conspiracies about the deaths of these two very real girls with very real families (who are suffering tremendous heartbreak).

It’s very disappointing to see the comment sections on this website to be allowed to turn into a very disrespectful and unfunny joke. Particularly given that you have very admirable aspirations for what you intend to do by investigating the trail on the ground.

For this website’s credibility I would strongly recommend more thorough moderation of people’s comments. Of course there is room for healthy and rational speculation surrounding what happened but the vast majority of these theories are absolutely ridiculous and downright disrespectful.

Judy

Has anyone thought to look further into the host’s dog (Blue)? They took the dog with them on the walk and it came back the next morning but they didn’t… there had to have been some clues – maybe like how far could the dog have gone and still find it’s way back home? The timeline could have been enhanced with this info. There may be some evidence on it’s fur like fingerprints…dna…plant/vegetation etc. I’m not sure if people can really talk with animals but i sure would try and see by calling on a few and get their opinion. Seems like no one has taken off in the direction of the dog and what it could have offered us. What do you think?

Jon Scott

Be careful. Much information is second hand. We have no police report to read which it’s self may also contain errors. Think. IF there was a dog with them why then did they not photograph it? Indeed it does not even accidentally appear. What I have not found is concrete evidence of where they went. Depending on how many mobile towers there are the police should have information. Even if there is only one it can provide information of they were not which is important to reduce the places they could be because much of the conspiracy theories I see seem to suggest they were not on the trail. Possibly that info can help. Also I have read that during the time they tried to contact emergency services one phone connected albeit briefly. Where is the Ping for that time? Also subsequently one or the other phone connected without them obviously knowing. Where are those Pings? The critical time is between the last foto and the first SOS call. Also the severity of the situation would dictate the time to the first SOS call. A serious accident….immediate…getting lost just building panic. I am not an investigator but I find it very strange that there were no witnesses found either tourists or locals on the trail. perhaps there is much that was missed by a very bungled police investigation. After any incident the first 24 hours are critical and it seems all that time was lost. One thing which confused me were the “bras” the smaller one looks more like a bikini top. Why would they remove them? It is cooler at those altitudes but also inside the forest it will be more humid. Daytime would be sweaty but what about at night when the temperature would be down in the 50-60s? Surely they would put them back on if only for a little insulation.

The girls went for a swim in a rock pool. Hence the bras and everything safely stacked in the backpack together – both girls’ sunglasses and both girls’ phones (otherwise each girl would be carrying her own phone). Someone watched them swimming. Perhaps this is someone who had already joined them along the trail, and that only one of the girls was cool with the third party – that’s why the complete change from the first exuberant pictures. Kris was not happy with the situation and was just going along and not looking too cheerful in the pictures. The picture where she is crossing the stream and looking back, her smile looks forced. Perhaps this stranger had suggested he could guide them on a more interesting trail, or show them something interesting in the jungle. Kris had her doubts but was jollied along by the more trusting girl.

Apparently the dog had no comment. I’m sorry but the question deserves a dumb answer. With all the misinformation thrown out there and poor follow up work (likely to protect tourism), any ones guess is possible. I find it odd that the young American girl was murdered not long after this not far away as with the taxi driver who was found depended likely murdered. Perhaps he gave some other persons a lift with the girls as is one of the stories out there. Just a few weeks later he’s found dead. And hen you have body parts belonging to other persons also found with these girls. I think murder is quite likely.

Jennifer

On the far right – upper right – of the photo. There’s some orange with white dots. Zooming in …I swear it’s a person standing Hidden amongst the tangle with body paint. The lower orange being around the belly area. Then again, my brain may be playing tricks from staring at it too long.

dot

I just realized Blue, the guide dog who often walks hikers up the trail, whose return home without the girls alerted locals they were missing, IS NOT IN ANY OF L & K pictures. He walked the trail with K’s parents, a sweet friendly lovely dog companion with big wise blue eyes, he is prominent in the video made by K’s parents as they walked the trail. But I see him in none of L&K’s photos. Not lurking or following the girls or walking beside them; nothing. L&K photographed every part of the walk from the farm up to the summit; dog appears in none of their photos. He wasn’t walking with them. No dog. Why? Weird.

I prefer to think that the two girls had some sort of accident, still horrific but better than being murdered. However having just seen a darkened and reddened photo (the one of the back of Kris’s strawberry blonde hair) you can see, in the top left, a door frame at the bottom of which is a dark floor. On the bottom right of the photo it looks as though her hair is wrapped around somebody’s fingers, or rather someone has their fingers wrapped around her hair. Her hair is also too clean and shiny for someone who has been out in the jungle for 8 days. Her skin does not look pallid like that of a dead person, it is still pink. She must therefore be in a house or building of some kind and therefore being kept prisoner at least for the 8 days before that photo was taken. I think the girls were made or persuaded against their wishes and by persons unknown, to go beyond the end of the Pianista trail to goodness knows where!

emily

Hello, where can i see this photo?

From Chris’s other article it seems the girls took a taxi to the hiking starting point? The Taxi driver was found dead later so no idea how much of this could be confirmed.

If they did, then I’m wondering if the dog named Blue went with them or was allowed in the taxi.

Yvette

This story struck my heart. I often keep reading things online hoping that they solved the case, but unfortunately it doesn’t look like they really have. I’m impressed how you were able to see the other things in the photo. At first glance I just thought she was looking for something. You have a good eye! thank you for sharing this. I hope one day they will find more answers.

Cherish

Wow, there’s a lot going on in this picture. & very very eerie all in all- I think you’re absolutely right on it’s significance. …

Could the structure built above be some sort of a net or trapping device? & is that some sort of an entrance to a cave or another makeshift structure she’s crouching to take a look inside- or is a part of the trail in that spot purposefully made lower & narrower in order to pass through? Also there’s a distinct small x made of branches or plastic in the top-mid right corner of the pic amongst the foliage that looks a part of the make shift roof/net.

Could fishing line be being used to secure all this making it hard to see, & could that blue object on the ground be part of the roof device- step on it & it triggers it or something like that?

& the way the local police handled it seems so botched making it stranger, & why keep some pictures hidden from the public still, especially if the case is “closed” now? The last set of pics is especially chilling to me, my first thought was Lisanne may have been bound & hurt & somehow able to gain access to the camera & made a last attempt to signal for help or document everything around her as best she could & that’s why all the angles are so awkward & unfocused.

Another thing that crossed my mind is what if the backpack & items had been kept as like a trophy of the killings, & a local knew that’s what it was aware of the incident & grabbed it & left it somewhere to be found to try & help shed light on the case the best way they could. …

I could be wrong but scanning through the comments didn’t see some of these things being discussed, & thought I’d put my 2 sense in! I hope justice is found for these girls, so very sad & just horrifying. 🙁

Sejia

Not to mention her hair was down in the photos at the beginning of the hike and now they appear to be in at least two pony tails where devil horns would be. And the black mark on her face. It looks straight and like it may go over the eye and above it. It looks like there may be some red on her face too or other markings. And I cannot fathom standing this way, hands behind the back and turned like that unless my hands were restricted behind my back. Maybe someone had her in there sitting on the rock, and she heard them coming back and got up quickly to turn around. It seems likely it was tribal. They may not have even know what they were doing, taking pictures, if they weren’t familiar with technology, and tossed the phone again at some point for the girls to grab to attempt the emergency calls and taken it back at some point after. Or maybe the girls were using the flash as light in the dark. Im baffled as to why this case hasn’t been investigated more, if not for protecting an indigenous tribe. I dont see any confirmation from law enforcement either as to whether or not the white bones were tested for bleaching.

The indigenous people know how to use phones – watch the Kinga documentary

A lot of times countries don’t want investigations to be publicized or they shut them down as best they can in order for their tourist trade to not be hurt!!!!!

Marilyn McHenry

The backpack and all the contents are so confusing. There’s no telling how many people touched it before the police got it. The chain of custody is muddy. Beyond that, the police are even suspect in altering evidence and not preserving it. Trials are too costly.

The case needs solid evidence and/or solid witnesses coming forward. A witness who won’t be staying in Panama for long. A piece of evidence that is irrefutable. Chris, I hope you and a team go but I also understand, in the present age of uncertainty, if you don’t.

Hi Marilyn,

I agree with you. I believe that the case was handled so poorly that it leads one to believe that it was intentionally handled as such. They had more than enough evidence and leads to solve the case – but they ignored so much of the evidence. This level of negligence and irresponsibility would be considered criminal in a developed country.

And why? For what reason? If they had solved the case, the international community (and the families) would have been satisfied and let it fade into history. But because of their theatrics and ignoring the evidence, the story and curiosity will continue to keep this case alive.

You mention the research team. It’s interesting – numerous people have contacted me anonymously and informed me that there are already multiple existing research teams that are investigating this case privately. I was surprised to learn that. The people in Panama may be afraid to speak, but in Europe, the USA and other Central American countries there are pods of people still working on the case. I’ve even been contacted by people in Asia.

This case is certainly not finished. People have long realized that it’s up to the public to solve this. There is an international consortium working behind the scenes to slowly and methodically continue the investigation. From my understanding, the various “teams” communicate with each other about which parts of the case they are investigating, and collaborate occasionally to share information. I knew there was a lot of interest in the case but I never expected to find a sophisticated group collaborating at this level. We live in interesting times.

Solvable: yes; but with each year that goes by less likely. Brought to trial and prosecuted successfully: highly unlikely, less than 1%. Likelihood the predator will strike again: 99.9% unless predator has died.

The predator is methodical. He has some resources at his disposal. I have a working theory of the predator (not a specific name). I would prefer to stay anonymous and off the website, so you have permission to use my email. I don’t appreciate the internet trolls who dump havoc on peoples’ insights. I agree with you that what happened is not some misadventure. It most certainly is not a joke. Thanks for your consideration with this comment.

My sole concern is for the young women who lost their lives for absolutely no reason. They came to learn a language and embrace a culture. They showed an incredibly brave independence which was repaid with murder. They should be alive and flourishing today. May the case stay alive and well. Thanks for all you are doing Chris.

Jane

Again, I stress that these kind of murder cases are frequently shut down by the media of the country at the direction of the government. Also, sometimes the investigations go dead because the government wants the story to go away in order for the tourist trade to not be hurt.

I also live in a third-world country about which it was said that investigations were shut down, or botched, to “protect the tourist industry.” I can assure you that is nonsense. If anything, they work harder to try and bring anyone to justice that harms a tourist. Perhaps every murder in the first world is resolved. Not in the third world. That is why the poor often resort to vigilantism. The rich live in gated communities.

Hi Anna, you’re casting a wide net when you say “If anything, they work harder to try and bring anyone to justice that harms a tourist.”

I’m very curious what your experience is living in Latin America, because generalizations like your statement are certainly inconsistent with many disappearance stories and law enforcement activity here. For more background and insight, please feel free to read some of the disappearance stories I’ve written about:

https://imperfectplan.com/disappearances/

Latin America has tens of thousands of small communities, all of which operate slightly differently to some degree. Political corruption runs rampant, depending on the community, which has a cascading effect on law enforcement and local crime. Local authorities don’t often feel a sense of responsibility to victims and their families. Instead, they think “What words can I say to make my local population feel better?” – After all, locals elect these same authorities.

Numerous families of disappeared family members have contacted me from my writing and the following is nearly always the sentiment they convey: Local authorities are unreliable, careless, slow to respond, even slower to take action, and they often hinder the family’s own investigations.

Yes, you are correct that numerous communities do work hard to bring criminals to justice. But in numerous case there are adverse priorities that lead to incompetence in disappearance investigations. Bringing justice to assailants that harm tourists is very often not a top priority, and it shows through the number of botched investigations.

Poverty, culture and crime in Latin America are different than poor nations in Asia and Africa. In Latin America, gangs, cartels and human traffickers work very effectively in unison to carry out organized crime. And they’re gaining steam in recent years. This is the reason that police, journalists and military personnel often disappear and governments struggle to combat crime, not to mention corruption within law enforcement itself.

To touch on the disappearance case of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, we can vividly see the incompetence that took place, even under the spotlight of international pressure. Most disappearance cases don’t get such publicity, so you can imagine how much less effort goes into them.

I’m curious about your experience living abroad. Feel free to comment again or send me an email.

Hello again Chris!

I have questions:

1. Do we know who owned the dog named Blue (aka Azul). Was the dog fed and watered by a family as opposed to being one of the many feral dogs in Latin America? Sorry to bring up the dog again. 2. Were the photos altered in any way or is this a presumption? I’ve seen cases in which political frenemies were erased out of photos without a trace. Does this take a high level of tech knowledge and a computer? 3. Is there much shareable knowledge about the gang in the area? Do they deal in weapons, drugs, porn? Rights of initiation? Is there a particular name, symbol or color associated with the gang? Are they low-level or sophisticated or a combo or both? 4. Is there a head count of how many people have perished using the hiking trail in, say the last 10 years? Is it a reasonable number?

This link answers some of those questions: Kris Kremers Case: The People Involved (Reference Guide)

1. Yes the dog was owned by Giovanni and Doris, the owners of Il Pianista Restaurant. 2. Yes, the photo data was manipulated. Photo #509 was permanently deleted which takes advanced technical knowledge, plus a computer. Also, #509 was deleted after all of the other photos were taken, which means someone went back and deleted it after all of the nighttime photos were taken. Some people claim that maybe photo #509 could have been “corrupted” as some sort of faulty camera configuration, but that wouldn’t make sense – even corrupted files retain some data and bits of the original file itself. That photo was wiped clean from the SD card, which is a strong clue that someone deleted it after the other photos were taken. Regarding the existing photos – it’s a big mess. The timing of the photos is incorrect, the resolution of the photos was altered to remove detail (which is why the public only has poor quality photos) and sometimes the photos were different sizes/dimensions. So – without doubt, someone tampered with the photos to some degree. 3. There’s not a lot of information about the gangs in the Boquete area. Most gangs in Panama are not “big” gangs with hundreds of members, like you would find in Mexico and El Salvador. The gangs in Panama are much smaller, usually consisting of between 5 and 30 people. Gang initiation rights are unknown – these small gangs don’t have an official “policy” as you might see with the larger gangs – it’s usually just “do as we say and we’ll protect you”. They earn money through drug trafficking, often theft and sometimes by extorting businesses. Guns are mostly for use in robberies, but these gangs prefer not to leave bullet holes – it’s too obvious. They usually drown their victims, hit and run car accidents, or just “disappear” the victim, etc – anything that ensures there’s no obvious intent to the police. Of course, there are always exceptions. 4. This is a great question. There are no public statistics. However, according to the Daily Beast: “We now know that more than two dozen other victims also were reported in the same region of Panama, including a young woman from the United States found murdered earlier this year.” – From 2017 . In reality, foreigners are usually not the target of gangs. Gangs usually just compete against each other and sometimes tourists are victims of opportunism or caught in the cross-fire. Tourists are usually only targeted when something goes wrong or someone has a specific personal problem with foreigners or a subset of foreigners.

Panama’s government is stuck in a desperate position. They want to protect their tourism industry but they also don’t have the resources to effectively stop gang violence. So they hide a lot of the gang activity and downplay what happens, which exacerbates the problem. Plus, corruption in Panama’s government is rampant. Government corruption perpetuates the proliferation of gang activity. Nobody is safe. Eventually they’ll have to confront these issues or nobody will visit and expats/immigrants/investors will leave. It’s sad because Panama is a beautiful country with a lot of wonderful people.

Karen

This is an excellent analysis. This case really creeps me out, specially the findings and the pictures.

Marie

There is one thing I have wondered about, when did the dog leave them? Why did he leave them? Where did he leave them? There seems to be no pictures of the dog. The dog found his way home.

Hi Marie, There’s no evidence that points to the dog being with them. There was one person that said that the dog “left” with them when they set out on their hike. But dogs in Latin America tend to roam around and go wherever they want – they’re very free here. Therefore we cannot conclude that a dog was even with them.

If the dog was with them, we cannot know for how long, nor why the dog left the girls. There are too many variables involved, so I don’t speculate much about the dog.

Gazza

All Froon and Kremers photos were taking with phones and a camera from six years ago, probably jpeg, with all the associated algorithm issues, let alone we have no idea of the provenance of the photos we are all seeing, I doubt any of it is first generation copies straight from the devices, and every time we copy a photo we risk changing the data somewhat.

I think most of what people are seeing -other than the obvious, of course- is pareidolia…

That said, even if there is a structure there, it has been made clear that there are a lot of trails on the other side of the El Mirador that are used by the indigenes, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see indications of these areas being used.

Think about it. Those two women were wearing very little clothing to be entering bush/jungle, there is no way that they’d easily make their way through vegetation, and, as they were clearly intelligent, why would they voluntarily just walk into dense bush? They were obviously following a trail, and most trails are made by humans, so human presence would be expected, I think.

Thanks for the analysis though, I keep looking for new stuff, this case really gets to me…I can see why people think this was a criminal act -I see that with some aspects of the case, however, I do think that it was the result of injury and or getting lost -I can’t see a criminal 1) letting them keep their phones and camera and 2) letting the camera and phones being discovered…

Hello and thank you for doing such a thorough research. I was visiting Panama and Boquette July 2014, that’s when I first heard about this case and was following it ever since.

I think that this is definitely a murder, because of the rucksack. I was clearly kept elsewhere and planted later. With regards to the photos, they are probably real. I am Photoshop expert, and I promise you that it’s virtually impossible to edit images in any way without it being noticeable at the pixel level. You need to be a Photoshop wizard of substantial level to even attempt this and it would take absolute ages. Not saying that it’s impossible, but very VERY difficult to edit photos seamlessly. Same goes for the hair photo, that people think might be a portion of a previous shot. If you take small part of a bigger image and blow it up to match the size/aspect ratio of other photos on the card, it will still keep the same number of pixels per square inch, but they will become much bigger. So easily noticeable.

The fact that one of the 112 called connected for 2 seconds and they did not redial it immediately, is also well dodgy. After days and days, they finally got a bit of reception and some hope, and they didn’t try again?? No chance. Btw, phones will connect to emergency services with or without sim card being present.

Loads of speculations as to why they didn’t leave messages to their families. Who said they didn’t? If someone had access to their phones, they might have deleted them.

Also, the parents did not release all the images. Do they know more than we do? Highly probable. They would have shared all the info with the private investigators whom they have hired. Panamanian screwed up the investigation monumentally, but I would think that the private detectives followed up all the leads: after all, they were getting paid a lot of money for it. But without DNA samples, finger prints, etc, it’s hard to prove anything.

Really sad story, whichever way you look. Hope there will be a reasonable explanation to everything one day…

Oliver

Hi Chris, i heard of this case a few months ago and i read many articles about it. On one website, almost every user is convinced, that all the daylight pictures were photoshopped, even this one here, No.505. I don’t think so. Who would do this, and why?

In this photo is another object (or two?), which doesn’t look natural. Maybe it’s just pareidolia, but i think it’s a manmade object.

Hi Oliver, I do believe that there’s enough evidence to conclude that some of the photos were graphically edited (photoshopped) but I don’t think this photo was manipulated. I’m not sure though, I’d have to search in my graphic editor again.

You ask good questions. My question is: Who has the ability to manipulate both the camera’s internal storage database and the photos? That’s perplexing to me. It suggest that this case goes deeper than we imagine. Most people in Panama don’t have the expertise, nor equipment to handle these sophisticated tasks. Sure, anyone can do these things with a computer and specialized knowledge – but with this level of competence? I don’t think so.

There are flaws in the manipulations, such as the photo timeline, the inconsistent resolutions, the missing photo (or video), the red lines on the shirt, incorrect shadow positioning, etc. So, their work was good but not perfect.

Which other objects in this photo look unnatural to you? I’m curious.

Thanks for your message!

Hi Chris, i uploaded the photo to show what i see.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/sLXepriuWAxz8t1R9

In the yellow circle could be just a leaf, but not in the red one. I can’t say what it is, but it looks similar to an object, that can be seen in some of the nighttime photos, like in this one here.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/nVA1PDjjeVwULeo66

I hope you understand my english, i’m not a native speaker.

Oliver, I just looked at your 1st link, and I can clearly see a human face in the red circle. I never noticed this before… https://photos.app.goo.gl/sLXepriuWAxz8t1R9 Could be leaves, I suppose, but to me it looks like someone is looking at the them from the vegetation.

Both of these photos were photoshopped! The first all the black area behind her was blackened and smudged. The oddest thing about this photo is the look on her face which looks very distorted. It is extremely easy to photoshop a photo once it has been darkened. You can even see the smudges or blurring on the bottom of the plants into the dark areas in an attempt to blend the darkness area (where something or someone was likely standing). As for the night pics I’m going to also throw this one out there and say the photos were heavily darkened to take away what was really there in view and then the spotty “weather” areas were added over including the “rain drops”. Photoshopping is not hard to do nor is it very tactical as many have proposed here. These photos all look very photoshopped. From 508 onward.

JJ

I think your initial analysis of the photo is spot on. People have been there. The black twigs can be seen growing up, as all vegetation/trees do to harness the sun, but the ones above her are clearly bent in a horizontal and parallel formation. Also the “path” looks to be a dried up river vs a man made path. The smooth rocks would further back that theory up and the blue trash could have just washed up there…perhaps. The real question is wether or not there is a cave or dwelling behind her. If there are documented river paths, this could be a way to find that exact same location.

Kris is sticking her tongue out in this photo. She is obviously excited by the weird place they have found. She would probably have gone into what looks like a cave or hut behind her, which may have been a booby trap leading to a long drop either through the floor or at the back of the cave. Perhaps Kris fell first and Lisanne heard her scream and running in fell herself. Like so many other people I really, really wish we could find the answers to this mystery.

pali

Hi, there sounds plausible but there is something about this case when I start to find some closure that it was an accident OR indeed foul play, I get new evidence from the internet debunking the conclusion I arrived at. I would like to pick your brains on your thoughts about the night photos: 1. of SOS made with a white cloth, 2. the mirror on rock 3. Lisanne or Kris’s hair and head 4. the dried short (Kris’s) 5. both fell but their belongings were intact, no cracks in the phone?

I really hope the girls rest in peace and that nobody goes through this ever. The theory of being lost is so plausible in a Jungle but then the photos ….. the speculation can never end.

Alice

I too noticed a nose and lips appearing. I wondered if it was a mirror or piece of metal and her reflection. Wonder if it could be a piece of an aircraft wreckage…

Winter

This is so surreal. Before you even pointed out the manmade “ceiling” structure I noticed that. She also is DEFINITELY looking to the right of the person with the camera (presumably Lisanne). I think it’s possible the “red and black” object is actually just a reddish-brown dead plant leaf – jungle leaves can get rather large. But the blue was also something I noticed. Perhaps a piece of a tarp or a wrapper? And I agree that her hands are free. I think the look on her face isn’t scared, but she looks to maybe be in wonder that they found a place like that? I know if I was hiking and wandering in the jungle (and presumably possibly lost although not quite realizing this at this point), I would be curious about a manmade structure like this. Honestly I’ve hiked by myself before on a well known trail by my college and when I saw the American flag waving in the middle of the woods I was more scared than anything!!! But I still had that curiosity. So sad what happened to them – today is the first I’ve heard of the story and it’s wildly upsetting. I hope someday the family has answers.

Andrea

There is nothing ominous or cause for concern in this particular pic. The illusion of her being tied and in distress is nothing more than that. If you track the photos she takes her hair down around when she reached the top of the mountain and there are photos taken shortly after this showing her to be fine, in good spirits even. A tragedy and a mystery but in its core, this is only a horrible accident.

Sorry Chris, having re-read what you said at the beginning of your article and having stared at the photo a for a bit longer, I can definitely see the corner of a kind of pitched, thatched roof of a what looks like a man-made hut. The white and red object on the left looks slightly like a cows head and what I took to be Kris’s tousled hair on the left of her head now looks like the thumb and fore finger of her left hand pointing to the inside of the hut.

Birgitte

Hi Chris, and thank you for your nice comments! It’s interesting to hear that you are considering putting together a research team to visit Panama and further investigate the details of the case – interviews, videos, mapping terrain, etc. Maybe you can find more answers about this horrible story. But someone may not like it, so I hope that you will be very carefull!

Hi Chris, to me the place Kris is in looks really spooky, but I also think it looks like the entrance to a cave. There is what appears to be a well trodden, narrow path to the left of her which passes behind her and enters a very dark area at the back right, which could be the cave. The branches above her could be an attempt to hide the entrance. The land behind her is definitely at a higher level and could be rock. The blue item could be anything, but shows someone has been there before. Maybe they stumbled on a hidden stash of drugs or something wierd and were taking a photo of the location in order to report it to the police, but got caught before they could. Well done Chris on highlighting the strangeness of this place. This whole incident is the stuff of horror movies and very chilling, even if it was an accident. Terrible for the parents. Take care if you do go over there.

Hi Birgitte,

Yes, you are right that a great deal of caution is necessary. I think “investigation” isn’t the correct word. My interest would be to see if it’s scientifically possible for the “official” theory to have happened. I’ve already researched a lot about the local conditions:

https://imperfectplan.com/2020/07/02/kris-kremers-lisanne-froon-panama-bleached-bones/

There’s a lot more information needed to make conclusions. The goal wouldn’t be to identify suspects or disrupt anyones life. The science can speak for itself. I think it’s equally powerful just to disprove the official theory.

Right now I’m simply building a list of names to determine interest:

https://imperfectplan.com/2020/07/14/organizing-a-research-team/

Thank you again for your messages!

Jaya

Be very Careful Chris.

Tammy

I thought the same thing.

It seems too strange to be an accident. Two young women, who don’t take any risks, go for a trip in the jungle and get lost in a mysterious way? There is no traces of them anywhere. And the police are not helping at all – it seems to me that they want to destroy the investigation. There are over 30 fingerprints on the blue backpack which belongs to one of the girls, but they don’t want to investigate the fingerprints. “It’s our fingerprints”, the police say. This backpack suddenly showed up 2 months after the disappearing. “It must have been flowing in the river” the police said. Seriously? The backpack had no scratches, no marks, the camera and mobile phones inside are as good as new. Even the cheap pair of sunglasses are in perfect condition. Police can’t be that stupid, but they hope that we are that stupid. I think this was a setup for the 2 girls from the beginning. I think they were murdered and their greatest mistake was to travel to this little town in Panama. They could have been a target early on.

They had planned a trip in the forest the next day, on April 2nd, with a local guide. So why did they go on a trip on April 1st? It does not make sense to me. They took a swim before the trip with to local young man the same day they went in the forest. Both of these 2 boys died shortly after, by murder or by “accident”. The same thing happened to the taxidriver who drove Kris and Lisanne to the forest. He drowned a short time after. The 3 of them died shortly after being in contact with the girls. I think they knew too much and someone wanted them to be silenced forever. Who knows if the girls really went for a walk that day by themselves? Maybe they were forced by someone to go. Or if they went, they could have been followed by someone – the murderer (or murderers). For a monster (him or them) this was enjoyment. And there have been some other unsolved murders in the same area where the girls were.

I think someone followed the girls, caught them, killed them and brought them somewhere, hid them, so they were never found. This was cleverly planned, and the murderer(s) have done this before. And the police know who it is, but will not say anything. They obviously protect the predator(s). For all that we know, it could be someone who works for the police who did this. And if other people learn too much, they get killed too. Like the taxidriver and the two local boys. One thing is for sure, I will never travel to Panama.

Hi Birgitte, thank you for your comment. You said “it seems to me that they want to destroy the investigation” – I agree with you that it seems intentional to some degree. That is the big picture of this case. There was enough evidence in this investigation to solve the case and possibly find Kris and Lisanne while they were alive. But so much of this search/investigation was poorly executed.

Here’s a brief list:

The camera and photos were tampered with – with photos removed and other photos cropped and reduced in size. The dog wasn’t in any photos, nor were the girls photographed after their disappearance. Kris’s bones had unnatural traces of phosphorus. The bones of Lisanne’s foot were fractured in an unusual way (from the top down). Most of the bones were never found. Fingerprints were not investigated. The non-waterproof lycra backpack mysteriously shows up, with completely dry contents.

I could go on and on. The point is that all of this case was poorly handled by the authorities. I speculate about potential reasons. These are more unanswered questions that we may never know.

Thanks for your comment and cheers!

chris

when are you putting a research team together?? I want to come!!

Hi Chris, see this link:

Regie Jessup

Thanks Chris!! Thorough job, very insightful and so well done Please visit Panama and further investigate. I look forward to learning more and you do valuable humane work helping other young adventurers. Thank you so much for walking the walk. Cheers, Reg

Anna

No Chris, I assure you, police investigations are routinely botched like this in the third world. Sheer incompetence. The rich pay for their own security and the poor resort to vigilantism. I live in a third world country and sometimes tourists come to grief. If the culprit is not brought to book, the rest of the world says it is “to protect the tourist industry.” No sir, just ordinary incompetence.

Hi Anna, yes, I’m aware of that and thank you for shedding light on that for other readers. Like you, I also live abroad in a developing country.

Poor investigations and low standards are very common in these under-developed countries. I’ve written about dozens of stories involving incompetence of law enforcement in disappearance cases.

It is possible for incompetence to work in conjunction with interests to protect key industries. In fact, it’s probable to some degree.

In this case, I don’t believe it was incompetence alone. Many of the leads were simply not followed – fingerprints, interviewing key suspects, identifying the precise location where evidence was discovered, etc. Certainly this could have been due solely to incompetence alone, but they ignored performing relatively simple investigation tasks more than once.

Another case that comes to mind is the case of Holger Hagenbusch:

https://imperfectplan.com/2020/07/02/holger-hagenbusch-a-disturbing-murder-and-exposed-coverup-in-mexico/

From the story of Holger, it seems unlikely to imagine that the medical examiner “overlooked” the very serious condition of the cyclist’s remains.

I suppose incompetence runs at many levels. However, when there’s monetary interests involved, especially within key industries – I give those ulterior motives some weight and consideration.

Thanks again for your comment.

Anders

One question – sticking to the government interference and coverup, with the deletion of a photo (nr, 531?) – why couldn’t they just destroy the phone all together, break it beyond repair and leave it in the backpack…

Rune

I dissagree with her hand beeing tied. When I look at the picture I think I can see both her arms. I think the left arm is visible behind her hanging down.

Her right hand is clearly raised in front of her shading her face from the sunlight. You can even see the shadow of her han on her face. And I think that sunlight she is trying t avoid also is the reason for her facial expression.

It looks a bit wierd, but that is just because everybody is assuming they see her upper arm when in reality is is her lower arm.

Patrick Cassidy

100% correct

If you look closely at the top left part of this photo, you can see that, behind all the criss-crossed twigs and branches, there is a bank of rock. You can’t see any blue sky behind the branches and the rock is in bright sunlight which bleaches out the colour. However there appear to be yellowish/beige shadows and it looks like a sandstone cliff. Can anybody see that? You have to look hard. This would mean that this photo possibly shows the entrance to a cave leading inside the wall of rock behind it. Perhaps the girls were lured there and that is where they met their horrible fate. There are some walls of rock in an area which I think is called los Naranjos, not too far from the Pianista trail (relatively speaking) and is where people go climbing. Perhaps that is where this photo was taken and a search should be done there. If a cave was found that would be big news and there could be DNA evidence inside it. Keep the ideas flowing guys. Many cold cases have been solved years later.

Mandy

I agree. Thanks for the observation. If you look at her shirt, it appears to be red and white striped. You see the pattern to the left and right of her arm. Herm appears to be traveling up to her head, which is why you don’t see her sleeve. It has to be her arm and hand that are blocking that part of her shirt.

Charlie

Yes, exactly. You would write something out on notepad or at least be texting everyone in your address book hoping one got through saying “Help. Emergency.” Totally agree. If someone died, you would certainly write, “Body can be found at xyz.”

Casper

exactly, you are very right about the shape of her arms and facial expression. the only strange element in this photo is the distance.

Stian

Does anyone know if the dog they brought with them is in any photos from the hike? I read that the dog returned to town in the evening, alone, but I haven’t seen it in any pictures. Did they lose it right at the start of the hike, but didn’t bother to go and look for it? Seems strange. But most people going on a hike with a dog would take some pictures of themselves with the dog, right? I haven’t seen any discussions on this.

It’s a bit strange that the dog is not in any picture. But what if that is what led them off track ?

The dog ran away and they followed it into the woods to try to get it back?

Hi Rune (and Stian), great points. It’s very interesting that the dog is not clearly visible in any of the pictures. If the dog went with them, it’s likely that the girls would have taken a photo of the dog, even if the dog was in a photo accidentally.

In all of the photos, there is zero evidence to suggest that the dog was truly with the girls on their hike into the forest.

This is highly unusual. This trip to Panama was a major life experience for Kris and Lisanne. Most travelers that have big experiences want to remember the small details of trips, because the trip represents an important memory in their life. The girls took photos of so many things, even many mundane things…but for some reason the dog wasn’t present in any of the photos.

In truth, the fact that there’s no evidence that the dog was with them leads a person to believe that perhaps someone could have fabricated the fact that the dog was with them. And more on this – most people in Latin America that permit their dog to walk freely do not keep track of where their dog goes.

For example, I visited numerous hostels in Panama and the hostels that have dogs usually permit their dogs to roam freely outside of the house and to come and go as they please. It’s part of life in the countryside and small towns.

The relationship between pets and owners is different in Central America than in developed countries. People in developed countries often have a more “ideal” view of what a “pet” represents. In Central America, dogs aren’t usually seen as something to protect and cuddle. Dogs here are seen as animals (like a jaguar or puma) that can take care of themselves, they’re seen as being dirty (not permitted on furniture) and are more rugged, like “the dog can handle his own problems”. People usually have dogs for a mild form of protection. Cats are often seen as pests and scavengers – which is unfortunately why many people use poison to kill local cats. Keep in mind, these are my observations I’ve made since moving from the USA. Of course these generalities and cultural traits do not apply to everyone here. I’ve met a few people that have maintained their pet in the same way as we do in the USA.

Also, I live in El Salvador, less than 1,000 kilometers from Panama, which has many cultural similarities. Many people in El Salvador permit their dogs to roam freely outside in the streets and forests. Dog owners here are not mindful of where their dog goes – the owners are tending to their own life: working, raising children, running a business, or resting during the hot days. Dogs are very independent here. Most dog owners here do not use a leash when walking their dogs. In fact, to bring a dog for a walk is less common in general, because most dogs are permitted to go outside anytime they want. It’s part of the relaxed culture. The dogs just do what they want to do.

So, if the dog went on the hike with the girls, it’s most likely that the owners would not have known that fact. However, I cannot say for certain because I do not know why the owner would fabricate this part of the story. Perhaps the owner had an underlying influence/incentive to express conviction in his or her statement about the dog.

Also, I do not know about the girl’s living situation and the relationship between the girls and the owner. This is something I will surely investigate more and write about in the future. This case has captivated me.

I’m considering putting together a research team to visit Panama and further investigate the details of the case – interviews, videos, mapping terrain, etc.

Thank you for your comments. Cheers

Vicki Hancock

I read extensively about this case and when I saw the above pic, I got the most eerie feeling. Even on my iPhone I could make it big enough to see odd things in the pic. Almost like some picture had been there and this posted over or just strange, almost satanic looking things. To me, this photo says it all. No accident.

JW

For goodness sake, why do people make things up? These other comments are just people seeing what they want to see, to make things more mysterious. She is not tied up, there is no rope around her waist and there are no hidden or blurry people in the photo. She’s ducking down slightly and trying to shield her eyes from the sun with her right arm. The sun is shining right into her eyes so she’s squinting and bending down a bit to see her friend, who was probably talking to her while snapping the photo. It’s perfectly normal and had they not tragically passed, it’s the type of photo they’d have been joking about later.

I realize that it’s more interesting to make things more ominous than they are but this is a very sad case of two naive girls who were totally unprepared for their adventure and very sadly got lost, injured and succumbed to nature. It happens often and I can’t even imagine how horrible it was. It’s incredibly sad. But absolutely everything points to it being a case of underestimating the jungle and dying from exposure.

Hi JW, yes I agree with you about many things. I don’t believe that anything ominous is happening to Kris in this specific photo. As you mention, she is blocking the sun with her hand and keeping her head down. She’s just exploring. However, her surroundings were my intended focus regarding this photo – there’s a lot of things in this photo that haven’t been discussed elsewhere and could provide clues as to what happened to them. Again, these are just observations.

I think that Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon underestimated their surroundings and were ill prepared for this adventure. The biggest danger for travelers in Central America is crime. Granted, other dangers certainly exist and that’s why we can only speculate about what happened to them.

Thank you for your comment. If you find any additional information, please let me know. I’m always reviewing their case and looking for answers. Cheers

John Mullany

I just want to agree with Chris and the poster JW that she is shading her eyes with her right arm up. Looking carefully at her forehead you can see there’s only the shade from a pole but her face is shaded. That’s from her palm.

The supporting pole is diagonal from upper right to lower middle indicating the path is beginning to head down. The “roof” or “cover” is not substantial enough to keep out rain but it could work as camouflage from the air.

I think Kris was about to have a quick look in a man-made structure she had stumbled across just to explore.

Shortly after this, they became victims. They no longer had their phones or camera and made no emergency calls at all. This eliminates all questions about why didn’t the girls call X, Y, Z.

The girls were no longer alive after April 2nd latest. One or more abductor did know the phone PIN but not all people involved knew.

Their backpack contents and electronics were stolen to be sold later but handed back to stop the search and not be incriminated. Photo 509 was removed first.

The night time photos are not relevant but the result of someone playing with the camera. (who knows why). I posted a link at Koude Kas of example of Monkeys playing with phones because they were entranced by the flash.

Also, no organ stealing, no cartels, no people traffickers, nothing to do with tribes, cults, sects, etc.

Many thanks, John

Carin

I agree. I get why people really hard want to believe there’s something more to it, but hiking a lot (in very well known areas) – you can go lost SO easily. My husband is a mountain climber and when he’s out, the mountain rescue flys multiple times a day because hikers overestimate their abilities – in the german Alps, not anywhere in the jungle.

For me the strongest clue that not anything sinister happened is that the family refused to have ALL photos released because some show the girls in a very rough state. And if there would be any clue in them that the girls were hurt intentionally, the parents would not stop being vocal about it. The internet does not have the most crucial information about the case.

And thinking its more possible that another person with a bleachbath and a Laptop/PC is wandering the jungle in Panama just shows me how little people nowadays know how dangerous the outdoors can be.

Hi Carin, thanks for your comment. I cover a lot of these things in my other comprehensive article regarding Kris Kremers Bones:

There are simply too many variables involved to oversimplify the case with the conclusion that they got lost. Trust me, I prefer to take the easiest explanation too. But then I’m immediately confronted with conflicting evidence to suggest otherwise.

Lisa

How come nobody ever says anything about the other girls bones and and what she was doing while these pictures were being taken of Chris that was way ahead of her ? If I remember correctly half of a pelvic bone was found that belong to the other girl so I think we should give the other girl some thought…

Hi Lisa, I wrote an in-depth analysis of Kris’s bones here:

The government officials involved failed at providing a thorough analysis/evaluation. Fortunately, there’s a lot of work still underway from private investigators and researchers.

I have watched so much about this case and this is the first time I have heard that the parents withheld photos

I think that if the parents had withheld important photographs,showing that the circumstances pointed to natural causes,they would have disclosed that theory before now, surely,if for no other reason,than to prevent further speculation about the girls disappearance.

Lynn Carmichael

JW, I agree with you totally, thanks for your intelligent remarks!

Myliama

If you would know (and read) every bits & pieces of this story, you would actually see that the ”they got lost” theory does not hold up with any of the facts and evidence found, not at all, not one bit.

Harold

Exactly! Same thing I’ve been saying.

Further to my earlier reply of a few minutes ago, I think the dying from exposure angle is only possible if we consider that either the girls abandoned the rucksack for some reason or it was discovered after their passing. In either case, maybe the rucksack was looted then later planted to avoid criminal implication. This would cover natural causes and the rucksack contents being in perfect condition. Thanks, John.

Marilyn Ann Hill

I agree w rope around waste thst wasn’t there before, hair is completely down Aldo, she’s in distree

Susan

Thanks for some new information, excellent analysis of the photo! Could the red object be a bird? Or another type of colorful animal found in the jungle? I do see the supports and I think that’s manmade also. Throughout the years people have hiked the disappearance route, I wonder if this structure was found there and investigated. Anyway thanks again this is such a fascinating case I wish there would be some kind of closure for the families (although I saw a you tube video that interviewed the father of one of the girls, he said that they hired their own investigator and determined they died of an accidental fall.

Hi Susan, those are all possibilities. I wish we had the answers to your questions. There are so many possibilities and we will probably never really know. This case certainly is perplexing, as many of the disappearances I’ve written about.

I’ve written about many disappearances in Central America: https://imperfectplan.com/disappearances/

Thank you for your comment and please feel free to send me any notes/info that you find. I’m always looking for answers. Cheers

How come there are so many disappearances in S. America I wonder?

Hi Chris, good question. It’s a complex topic. Basically, there’s a lot of government corruption and poverty as a result. All of this leads to resentment and frustration, which results in higher crime rates. Government corruption is the core of the problem.

For the most part, foreigners are just caught in the middle. Rarely are foreigners targeted for a reason other than pure opportunity.

However, regarding Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, I’d need to know more about their personality to make this determination. There are vast cultural differences to account for, especially between men and women. Since they were two young women from Europe, I can easily see the possibility that they offended the wrong man. Even a subtle untimely laugh behind a man’s back in Latin America can create a hostile situation if the women were alone later. Machismo culture is very real and respect is considered to hold a higher level of importance in Latin America.

Thanks for your question! Cheers

Kevin

No,they weren’t murdered. They got lost and succumbed to the wild. Occum’s razor. Not everything is a complex conspiracy, people.

Hi Kevin, Occum’s razor only applies when all facts are available. All facts are not available in this case. The government intentionally did not investigate key pieces of information: fingerprints, phone records, locals in the area, other forms of DNA. They maintained a great deal of secrecy and privacy and never officially published any information.

I know that it’s tempting to a lot of people to make simple conclusions, but it’s simply not possible to make conclusions without more information. It’s all speculation until more answers are found. It’s up to the public now – the government closed the case 6 years ago.

Mel

Hi Chris! I’ve just watched a video on YouTube.. An unusual one.. A psychic reading actually.. Very interesting.. Someone in the comments put the link to your website that’s how I found you! She’s describing the things you’ve noticed on the pic!!!! Let me know about your opinion here’s the link https://youtu.be/4wqUCG5bxns loads of greetings Mel

Hi Mel, thanks for sharing. I don’t really speculate much with psychic readings or “energy”.

If a psychic reading leads to some legitimate form of tangible evidence and made public, then that’s excellent, but otherwise I think it’s mostly a distraction.

Even at this point, I still think there’s a lot that can be achieved from gathering information and further evaluating the existing evidence. There are more answers out there that are still possible to gather.

But aren’t there the subsequent photos of Kris Kremers crossing the stream and so the developments may have occurred after this picture – 505?

Em

P.S. To the creator of this photo analysis Thank You, excellent work

Hi Em, thank you. I’m happy my work could shed some light on the possible items in the picture. I wish there were more answers to what happened. Perhaps the truth will come out someday. Take care.

Hi Chris, Very interested in your website! I have one questions for you, regarding the 90 photos taken at night: if these were not taken by one of the girls in an attempt to provide light or whatever, what possible purpose could anyone else, such as an attacker, have in taking these photos? Thanks un advance, Lyn Carmichael

Hi Lynn, that’s a great question.

I’ve considered a number of possibilities on the pictures. Here are some ideas I’ve speculated about.

1. Perhaps incriminating photos existed on the camera before and new photos were taken to overwrite the camera’s memory files, therefore preventing the “old” photos from being extracted from the camera’s digital memory. As we all know, hitting “delete” never actually deletes files – therefore overwriting the files is the only effective method to cleaning “old” data.

Most novices wouldn’t know how to properly handle something like this, so it was probably someone experienced with computers.

2. The attacker could have taken the photos to confuse the authorities and the public. In reality, I don’t think someone would go to this extent. They’d probably just bury the camera in a deep hole or toss it in the river or ocean. However, it’s still possible.

3. Kids in the area could have found the backpack and were just messing around with the camera. This option is least likely, because we’d obviously see something more tangible in the photos.

Personally, I believe that number one mentioned above is the most likely reason. These photos don’t have a lot of helpful information and the camera was tampered with.

The fact that the backpack showed up on the bank of a river completely dry and unharmed downstream, with the camera and other electronics still functioning, shows that someone placed it there. Even rainwater gets heavy enough to destroy electronics inside of a backpack – yet that didn’t happen. I have no doubt that the camera was tampered with. The backpack and contents were covered with fingerprints, yet they were never analyzed. That’s suspicious and leads me to question if government was involved to some degree.

Keep in mind – nobody has seen all of the photos and we don’t know why. Websites/blogs speculate about why, but nothing has been confirmed.

Lisa D

Has anyone gone back to the spot where the photo was taken?

Jep

The BLUE object on ground could be a BRA. IT’S SHAPED LIKE A BRA.

Jill

Hi Chris..I just came across this story yesterday and it was really sad and disturbing…I hope the truth comes out too.

De

Is there somebody behind the insignia? And more to the right of the insignia, is that water, an underground river maybe, there is like a light at the end.

Watch “Lost in the Wild” Season 1 Episode 1. Two journalists take the same hike the girls took. Very interesting and completely changed my mind. Definitely foul play, in my opinion.

Here is what bothers me about this event. I think Kris and Lisanne were two smart, savvy, levelheaded young women. They knew to be on guard and be careful. I’m sure that when they left on that short hike that their intention was to be back home before dark and to be back to the host home for supper on time. This tells me that they had a time in their minds of what time to leave to get back to their host home in Boquette. Why did they not do that? Why were they still in the jungle at 4:39 PM when they made their first distress call? They couldn’t have been that far away from the return trail to Boquette. This leads me to believe that they were followed by one or more men who made their presence known around that time. It could be that the taxi driver could’ve called someone and given them a heads up that two beautiful young ladies had just headed up the Pianista alone. This may explain why the taxi driver and the two young men died so soon after this incident. That and the deleted photo make me for first time in my studies of this incident start to suspect foul play, but we’ll never know.

Looks like 2 blurred out people one talker than other behind her over her left shoulder or her left when looking left of pic

Lucy

How close was this tribe to where they went missing?

Abrahm

If you read the article linked, it’s not even an indigenous tribe. It’s a sect of foreign Christians that set up in the area and murdered 6 people FROM one of the local tribes.

Hi Abrahm, thank you for your comment. You highlight the importance of fastidiousness in the articles that I reference.

After a second look, I found that the Yahoo article specifically states that it was “17 foreigners belonging to another sect”, but Yahoo was somewhat unclear – “Foreign” can have a lot of meanings in this context.

I know that it’s highly irregular for “17 foreigners” to uproot their lives and relocate to the obscure jungles of Panama, especially for the purpose of sacrificing locals (whom are often Catholic). So this sparked my curiosity. After investigating further, I discovered this article from the LA Times:

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-01-18/cult-anointed-by-god-kills-7-in-panama-jungle

The LA Times article states “The sect arose after a villager returned to the community several months ago following a stint abroad, bringing back unusual religious beliefs with him.”

Apparently this villager travelled abroad, adopted extremist “Christian” views, returned home and started a cult in his own village which resulted in human sacrifices of other locals. So, these were all indigenous locals influenced by another villager that had traveled abroad.

I believe that the LA Times article is more informative, so I’ve updated the link in my writing above.

Thank you for your comment! Cheers

I don’t see what the writer sees at all. Kriss in the photo is just watching her step.

Yup, I toot checked and her video came only after this post. I wanted to her a benefit of the doubt before I came across this article, yes she did mention red and black feathers on a piece of wood and turquoise pendant and a white mask. Shame!

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Panama: Two Tourists from Holland Found Dead Near Boquete

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journalists

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Latin America

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Mediterranean

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Middle East

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  • Dubai: Tourist thought going to hotel for sex, robbed and filmed by Nigerian crooks
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Natural Disaster

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  • Hundreds feared dead after supertyphoon hits the Philippines
  • Nepal: 12 trekkers killed in snowstorm, avalanche in Himalayas, 100 still missing
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New Zealand

  • New Zealand: Missing Hiker from U.S. found safe
  • New Zealand: Dutch Tourist Missing
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  • Tauranga New Zealand: Man arrested after attempting to steal vehicles from tourists at camp site
  • New Zealand: Tourist Killed on unlit rural Queenstown road

North America

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  • Miami, Florida: Five positive for Zika including three tourists
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North Korea

  • China concerned over treatment of its citizens detained in North Korea
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Philippines

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Public Unrest

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Puerto Rico

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Shark Attack

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Solomon Islands

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South Africa

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South Paciic

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Switzerland

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  • Switzerland: One American killed and four others injured in hot air balloon crash
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  • Thailand: Fake Tourist Bus Scania involved in deadly crash
  • Thailand: Australian tourist killed in jet-ski collision with partner

Tourist Arrested

  • Australians Detained for Alleged Cocaine Smuggling in Ecuador

Tourist Attacked

  • New York City: Tourist from Italy stabbed in front of Trump Hotel while snapping pictures

Tourist Dies

  • German tourist dies mountain climbing, heart attack, falls ten meters

Tourist Drowned

  • Lu’um Balam, Cancun Mexico: Tourist Dead in Cavern, body still not recovered
  • Roatan, Honduras: German Tourist dead
  • Spain: Two Tourists from UK drown
  • Nicaragua: 13 die as tourist boat capsizes in Caribbean
  • Boat Capsizes in Paraguay, Brazilian Tourists Drown

Tourist Food Poisoning

  • Europe: Salmonella outbreak
  • UK issues Cyclospora Health Alert for Mexico (Riviera Maya coast)
  • Egypt: 100 tourists from UK ill at Coral Sea Waterworld Complex, bacterial poisoning suspected
  • 300 plus passengers, crew ill on Royal Caribbean cruise ship
  • Thailand: British tourist survives three story fall from hotel balcony after drinking spiked beverages

Tourist Harassed

  • Norwegian journalists harassed by Russian police over content of Sochi reporting
  • Two members of American tour group harassed by Indian police constable
  • India: Russian couple harassed by local travelers at tourist cave
  • Egyptian woman harassed by man in elevator in Saudi Arabia
  • United Kingdom: Foreign tourists racially abused in Chichester

Tourist Injured

  • Michoacán, Mexico: Irish Tourist Murdered, girlfriend from U.S. injured in robbery by bandits

Tourist Kidnapped

  • Japanese man kidnapped by armed men in Manila suburbs

Tourist Killed

  • Colorado: Man sentenced to prison in murder of tourist

Tourist Missing

Tourist raped, tourist robbed.

  • Barcelona, Spain: Beware of Professional Pickpockets in Metro who target tourists

Tourist Scam

  • Spain, France, Italy ranked worse for tourist scams in Europe
  • Scotland: Crime Group Impersonating Police Officers Targeting Tourists for their Cash
  • Tourist from U.S. robbed by transvestites in Mexico City
  • Irish authorities uncover six-month long ATM scam in tourist town

Tourist Stories

  • Orlando Florida Tourist District Hotbed for vehicle break-ins
  • Thailand: Warrants issued for two U.S. tourists for theft of human body parts
  • U.K. Tourist from U.S. trapped in London bookstore after it closes
  • France: Fire breaks out on a ride at Disneyland Paris

Tourist Suicide

  • Sousse, Tunisia: Tourist from Denmark commits suicide, jumps from hotel room
  • U.S. Tourist Death Deemed Suicide in U.K.
  • Russian Tourist Commits Suicide in Hotel in Dominican Republic
  • Thailand: Chinese couple dead in murder-suicide at resort in Phuket
  • Chinese tourist attempts suicide in Taiwan

Tourist Warning

  • Knife attack on three people outside London Underground Train Station

Tourists Attacked

  • Two Tourists from U.S. assaulted after withdrawing funds from ATM in Mexico City, one dead, one injured
  • Nice France: Bastille Day attack kills 70

Tourists Die

  • Las Vegas: Mass Shooting, dead, injured (videos)
  • Honduras: Students from U.S. on medical mission perish in bus crash, numerous wounded
  • White Sands National Monument, N.M.: Tourists from France die while hiking
  • India: British tourists found dead in hotel, Agra

Tourists ill

  • Travelers to the Caribbean warned of risk of mosquito-borne illnesses
  • Indonesia: Seven Australians contract measles in Bali, tourists warned of potential spread
  • Canada: Japanese tour group quarantined in hotel in Alberta over potential measles outbreak
  • Indonesia: Travelers to Bali warned of risk of measles after four Australians contract the disease

Tourists Injured

  • Belize: Six tourist from France involved in tourist van crash

Tourists Killed

  • Mexico: Tourist bus crashes in route to Cancun, 12 killed, 30 injured, driver flees

Tourists Raped

  • Sri Lanka: Foreigner arrested for sexually assaulting two French tourists
  • Israel: teenager indicted in assault and attempted rape of British tourist
  • Peru: German tourists assaulted, robbed, one of victims raped by masked gunmen
  • British tourist raped by tribesmen in Colombia

Tourists Rescued

  • Tennessee: Young Hiker Survives nearly two weeks lost in forest
  • Rescue operation saves group of tourists from ship trapped in Antarctica
  • Foreigners evacuated from South Sudan amid increasing factional violence
  • United States: Family rescued after going missing in Nevada mountains

Tourists Robbed

  • Versailles, Fraince: Chinese Tourist Guide Robbed while intervening in robbery of other tourists
  • Dublin Ireland: Over 700 tourists robbed in 2014

Travel Aviation

  • Coup Attempt Turkey appears to have failed

Travel Health

  • Menorca Spain Hotel: Outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease

Travel News

  • Editor of Touristkilled.com featured on news program for assisting tourists to be better informed
  • Hurricane Otto to threaten lives and property from Panama to Honduras, El Salvador
  • Some May Decide to Dump Trump and become expats in Latin America
  • Heatwave Expected to Cross sections of Western Europe

Travel Weather Issues

  • Driving Safety Tips when in Fog
  • Australia: Bushfire threatens popular tourist area
  • According to NASA El Nino could be as bad as 1998
  • Turkey: Tourist from Denmark dies in Balloon mishap
  • Travel Scams in Turkey
  • Ankara Turkey: Germany temporarily closes embassy, fear of attack

United Kingdom

  • Buckingham Palace attack: Two Suspected Terrorists Arrested
  • Al-Qaeda plotting terror attacks in Britian and Europe per defence secretary
  • ISIS encourages Jihadists to use random knife attacks to commit assasinations

United-States

  • Active Shooter Mandalay Bay Resort (strip) Las Vegas, hundreds of police at scene, multiple injuries reported (VIDEO)
  • One Dead, One Injured in rockfall from El Capitan at Yosemite National Park
  • Fires Bearing down on Glacier and Yosemite National Parks
  • Vietnam: Anti-China unrest targets factoriees with arson, looting
  • Vietnam: Thai visitors held and their motorbikes siezed after traveling without proper documents
  • Vietnam: Japanese tourist robbed of iPhone in Ho Chi Minh City
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Serial killer, WNC native 'Wild Bill' sentenced for 5 Panama murders

PANAMA CITY - U.S. citizen and former WNC resident William Dathan "Wild Bill" Holbert was sentenced to 47 years in prison by a court in Panama for robbing and killing five other Americans in a Caribbean tourist destination, authorities said Monday.

Holbert’s ex-girlfriend Laura Reese was sentenced to 26 years for her role.

Authorities said Holbert admitted killing five people between 2007 and 2010 in Bocas del Toro province in order to steal their property.

MORE: Read our story on the history and background of the Holbert case  here.

Holbert’s lawyer, Claudia Alvarado, suggested an appeal was likely.

Holbert and Reese were arrested while trying to enter Nicaragua from Costa Rica in 2010.

That year, the bodies of four adults and one child were found buried in a patch of jungle at the rear of the couple's remote home.

Holbert killed a U.S. citizen named Mike Brown, his wife and young son in 2007. Authorities have said Brown may have been living under an alias and they don’t know where he was from. In 2010, Holbert killed Cheryl Lynn Hughes, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, who ran a small hotel in Panama, and Bo Icelar, former owner of a gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Holbert and Reese met in Asheville at the Body Shop, a local gym where Holbert worked. He had played football at North Henderson High School. They left Western North Carolina in 2005 after Holbert divorced his wife and filed for bankruptcy.

In Montana, Holbert stole a car and sold it. Back in North Carolina he sold a $200,000 home that he didn’t own. Authorities pursued him across a half dozen states that included a high-speed chase in Wyoming.

He and Reese had been living in Panama under the alias Cortez. They were fleeing a Panamanian investigation when they were arrested in Nicaragua.

The Cinemaholic

Javier Martin Now: Where is Don North and Jean-Pierre’s Killer Today?

 of Javier Martin Now: Where is Don North and Jean-Pierre’s Killer Today?

The season premiere of Investigation Discovery’s ‘Dark Waters: Murder in the Deep’ titled ‘Adrift’ deals with a double murder that happened on the seas of Panama. Two seasoned sailors were shot and killed sometime in January 2011. The investigation led the authorities to Javier Martin, a Spanish national seen with both men shortly before their disappearance. So, if you’re wondering if Javier was caught and brought to justice, we’ve got that covered for you.

Who is Javier Martin?

Javier met Don North, an American who had been sailing for decades, close to the San Blas Islands in Panama. Don rescued Javier after he crashed his boat into a reef, leading it to sink. Javier was a charter captain who carried tourists between Cartagena, Colombia, and the San Blas Islands. Don helped him out, and the two of them got to know each other over time. Then, Don was supposed to go to Cartagena for his visa renewal and asked Javier to come.

panama tourist killed

But Don was not heard from again after being seen on the Chichime island, a part of the San Blas. He was seen there sometime in January 2011. While the two set sail to Cartagena, only Javier returned about three days later. In another tragedy, the body of Frenchman Jean-Pierre Bouhard was found in Portobelo Bay, Panama, in February 2011 with a gunshot wound to the head. His body was wrapped in chains and weighed down with an anchor. Now, witnesses also reported seeing Javier arguing with Jean-Pierre on the Frenchman’s boat. Furthermore, both Don and Jean-Pierre’s boats were found by the investigators under changed names.

On February 14, 2011, Javier was arrested after investigators found overwhelming evidence linking him to the murder. Don was also assumed to have been shot because the authorities found blood inside his boat’s cabin. Sadly, his body was never recovered, but the belief was that Don was also weighed down by chains and thrown overboard after being shot. The alleged murder weapon was found hidden in the room of a hostel that Javier was staying in Santa Fe, Panama. He registered there using Don’s identification and credit card. Javier had other firearms and a substantial amount of money in his possession when the police took him into custody. There were shell casings found on Jean-Pierre’s recovered boat.

Where is Javier Martin Now?

panama tourist killed

On the show, it was stated that Javier also had with him some of Don’s other things from the boat, like electronics. After his arrest, Javier was found guilty of murdering Don North and Jean-Pierre Bouhard. He was handed down two 26 years to life sentences. From what we can tell, he remains incarcerated at the La Joya Prison in Panama, a place where he will likely spend the rest of his life.

Read More: Where is Cornell Smith Now?

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Panama: The mysterious death of two young tourists

Death on the Serpent River The Lost Girls of Panama: The Full Story The mysterious deaths of two young tourists in Panama puzzled examiners and shocked nations on both sides of the Atlantic; now secretly leaked documents reveal what happened. Jeremy Kryt/thedailybeast.com

The Daily Beast brings together here all three parts of its investigation into the fate of Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22, who went out for a brief hike near a mountain resort in Panama in 2014 and never came back.

Were they victims of a tragic accident or a savage crime? Amid what seems conflicting evidence and botched police work, theories have proliferated, some of them even involving the occult.

Now, thanks to a trove of documents and photographs revealing hitherto unexamined aspects of the case, we have been able to offer fresh insights into what happened in this celebrated mystery.

We have consulted reputable sleuths in fields as varied as wilderness survival and photographic analysis, and obtained the expert opinion of forensic anthropologist and best-selling author Kathy Reichs.

The results may not close the debate entirely about an incident that has fascinated and horrified people around the world, but our discoveries should bring closure to those who knew the women, or have grown to care, truly, about their fate.

PART I – THE DISAPPEARANCE

BOQUETE, Panama — Welcome to the jungle: specifically, the cloud forests of the Talamanca highlands.

It’s a rainy Saturday in early June, at the height of the wet season here in northern Panama, and we are—quite literally—on the trail of a deadly international mystery.

This mud-slick, root-choked footpath is called the Pianista, or Piano Player, because it climbs—in a series of ladder-like steps reminiscent of a keyboard—up from the tourist town of Boquete to the Continental Divide, at about 6,660 feet.

Bright-tailed quetzals flit through dwarf species of cedar, oak, and wild avocado along the trail. At this elevation the trees are stunted and wind-warped, their twisted limbs draped with moss and epiphytes.

The rain is falling in surprisingly cold gusts by the time our small party reaches the Mirador, the overlook at the top of the Divide, about three hours after leaving the trailhead. On a clear day you can see all the way to Boquete. Today, however, the only thing visible from here is the white sea of mist atop the canopy below.

But the Pianista is known for more than just its pretty birds and haunting vistas.

Back in April 2014, two Dutch tourists—Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22—disappeared after setting out on this same three-mile stretch of trail.

The women, who had come to Boquete to study Spanish and work with children, were never seen alive again. Searchers found no trace of them but, a few months later, a member of the indigenous Ngobe tribe turned up in Boquete with Lisanne’s backpack and some of the girls’ belongings.

A few scattered remains and articles of clothing eventually were recovered near the area where the pack was found. The evidence was sufficient to make a positive DNA match to the victims, but there were not enough remains for examiners to render a conclusive verdict as to cause of death. Get The Beast In Your Inbox!

The lack of hard answers led to a flurry of suspicions—and, eventually, formal allegations of foul play. The case also spawned a host of bizarre theories, and amateur investigations.

The deaths of Kris and Lisanne have been blamed on pygmy cannibals, cartel hitmen, and organ traffickers, as well as more conventional explanations—like kidnapping and rape that ends in murder.

Boquete’s best guide resists buying into any of the gossip and still searches for some hard proof to tell him what happened.

“Most tourists go up to the Mirador and snap a few selfies. Then they come straight back down the same path to town,” says Plinio Montenegro, who grew up in Boquete, and led several search parties for Kris and Lisanne in the days after they disappeared.

“We don’t know why las holandesas [the Dutch girls] didn’t come back down,” Plinio tells me, back in Boquete after hiking the Pianista. Above us, the heavy rain hisses on my hotel’s A-shaped, Swiss-chalet-inspired roofing.

“When something like this happens in a small town, the people of that pueblo feel responsible,” says Plinio.

“We want this to be a safe place for tourists—no matter where they come from. That’s why we need to know what really happened to them,” says Plinio.

“All we want is to know the truth,” he says, staring out at the falling rain, “so we know who—or what—to blame for their deaths.”

This investigation was undertaken after The Daily Beast received secretly leaked copies of the official case files used by investigators. Those archives contained autopsy reports, data recovered from the electronic devices the women had with them when they went missing (a camera and two phones), as well as DNA analysis, maps used in the search, and more, including Kris Kremer’s diary.

Since no independent media have had access to complete case files before, and in the hopes of telling the victims’ story as accurately as possible, The Daily Beast called on a team of experts—including authorities on photography, wilderness medicine, and globally famous forensic anthropologist and best-selling author Dr. Kathy Reichs—to provide opinions and analysis on this case.

By combining their appraisal of the evidence with on-site reporting we can now make some confident assertions regarding the victim’s whereabouts and activities during at least part of the time they were missing—and, as a result, we can also offer new insights into the accident-versus-foul-play controversy.

“We need to set the record straight for the sake of the victims themselves,” as local guide Plinio Montenegro put it.

“The holandesas deserve to have their story told the right way at last.”

At the time of their disappearance, Kris and Lisanne were on break from their studies back in the Netherlands. Both were outstanding students. They’d first met while working part-time gigs at the same café in the southern city of Amersfoort, before deciding to share a flat.

They must have made a good team. Kris was the outgoing one, with striking, strawberry-blond hair and cool blue eyes. She was also an amateur actress, and planned to go on to graduate school in art history after her stint in Panama.

Lisanne’s ash-blond hair was just a few shades darker than her best friend’s. And, at six feet tall, she was the more athletic of the two. She’d been a volleyball star in college, and had tried her hand at more extreme sports, like sky diving and mountaineering. Froon had an introspective side, too, and had majored in applied psychology back in Amsfoort; she was also a budding amateur photographer.

Kris and Lisanne arrived in Panama to serve as volunteer social workers—and to learn fluent Spanish—but someone had miscalculated.

Apparently, they arrived in Boquete a week early; the program administrators weren’t ready for them, and the assistant instructor had been “very rude and not at all friendly” about it, as Kris wrote in her diary.

“There was not yet a place or work for us so we could not start.… The school thought it odd as it was all planned since months ago,” Kris wrote, moments before leaving the room she shared with Lisanne to set out on the fatal hike that morning of April 1, 2014.

“Tomorrow they will try and get a hold of the [head teacher].… This was a real disappointment,” she wrote, but her final log entry hints that she was already looking forward to putting such cares behind her.

“Anyway,” she advises herself, in the diary’s last line, “Go with the Panamanian flow.”

The combination of steep terrain and heavy rainfall make for a complex network of fast-running river channels throughout the Talamanca cordillera. Moist air currents rising from the Pacific dump some 136 inches of rain each year in the region, and the runoff rockets downhill through the jagged, boulder-strewn ravines that dominate the landscape.

INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED SPANISH VOCABULARY, READ THIS BOOK

The Continental Divide, at the top of the Pianista trail, marks the point where the two regional watersheds change course. On the western side of the Divide the rushing mass of rivers fed by the upland rainforests flow downhill into the Pacific Ocean; those eastward eventually reach the Caribbean Sea.

Boquete sits cupped in a brook-laced valley that protects it from some of the worst storms that blow down from the cordillera. It’s about 40 minutes by car from the base of the still-active volcano called Baru, which is also the site of a national park.

The region is known as “Little Switzerland” for its resemblance to the steep meadows, crystal-clear lakes, and pine forests of the Alps. Local architects have done their part to make the town resemble a snowless version of Zermatt or Grindelwald, albeit with a higher percentage of mule traffic on the street.

The area is popular with gringo retirees and expats who’ve come for the weather and the easy pace of life. It’s also an eco-tourism hotspot for birdwatchers and outdoor adventurers of all stripes. The streets are lined with shops advertising cloud forest safaris, rock climbing, river rafting—and most of these tourist outfits are run both by and for the extranjeros, or foreigners.

“Sometimes the turistas get lost—but they usually turn up again, or are found by search parties,” says our expert on the trails, Plinio Montenegro. Such gringos come back hungry and embarrassed and humbled by the jungle. But at least they come back.

The fact that Kris and Lisanne didn’t come back is still seen as very strange in and around Boquete.

Panama is infamous as an off-shore tax haven. And dictator Manuel Noriega, in a U.S. prison since 1989, may once have been at the center of both CIA and drug cartel intrigues. But today Panama is one of the safest countries in Latin America, and idyllic Boquete is thought to be even safer.

In the wake of the Kremers-Froon tragedy, some observers suggested a connection to the disappearance of a British backpacker named Alex Humphrey, who went missing while staying at a hostel here back in 2009.

The Daily Beast could not identify any link between Humphrey’s disappearance and the Kremers-Froon tragedy. There were some reports that Humphrey, who was autistic, was last seen looking “disoriented” at a beach town hours south of Boquete.

What is worth noting, however, is that in both cases Panamanian authorities came under heavy fire for mishandling the investigations.

Witnesses say Kris and Lisanne left the trailhead, just north of Boquete, at about 10 o’clock on that sunny Tuesday morning. They were dressed in light clothing, and with only Lisanne’s small backpack to share between them.

Thanks to photos recovered from a camera later found in that same backpack, we know the women made fairly good time up to the Mirador. They are smiling and seem to be enjoying themselves in these images, and there is no indication of a third party being along with them—although there are reports that a local dog named Blue followed them at least part way up the trail.

Geographical features visible in the last few pictures indicate that by mid-afternoon the women had left the Pianista, and, perhaps accidentally, crossed over to the other side of the Divide.

These last images suggest them wandering off onto a network of trails not maintained by rangers or guides affiliated with Baru National Park. Such unmarked traces aren’t meant for tourists, but are used almost exclusively by indigenous peoples living deep within the forests of the Talamanca.

Nine weeks later, in mid-June, Lisanne’s pack was brought to authorities by a Ngobe woman—who claimed to have found it on the riverbank near her village of Alto Romero, in the Boco del Toros region, about 12 hours by foot from the Continental Divide.

The contents would cause a firestorm of speculation on both sides of the Atlantic: two bras, two smart phones, and two pairs of cheap sunglasses. Also a water bottle, Lisanne’s camera and passport—and $83 in cash.

The discovery of the backpack prompted a renewed search, and by August the Ngobe had helped authorities locate about two handfuls of bone fragments, all found along the shores of the Rio Culebra, or the River of the Serpent.

DNA tests were positive—and also thickened the plot.

A total of five fragmented remains were identified as belonging to Kris and Lisanne—but the Ngobe had also submitted bone chips from as many as three other individuals.

Aside from the bras in the backpack and one of Lisanne’s boots—with her foot and ankle bones still inside it—very little other clothing was ever found. One of Kris’s (empty) boots was also recovered. As were her denim shorts, which were allegedly found zipped and folded on a rock high above the waterline near the headwaters of the Culebra—about a mile-and-a-half upstream from where the backpack and other remains were found.

The condition of the bone fragments and bits of flesh, and where they were said to have been discovered, prompted a fresh round of questions by investigators and the press.

Why had so few remains been found? Why were there no marks on the bones? What did the presence of other human remains mean?

Answers were in short supply. Neither Dutch nor Panamanian forensic examiners could offer a definitive decision on the cause of death—the Dutch felt it “most likely” an accident, while admitting they couldn’t rule out foul play— while their colleagues in Panama publicly speculated about the possibility of a criminal act.

After the discovery of the identified remains, Panama’s attorney general had called the case “a crime against personal integrity,” but when forensic examiners reached an impasse, the Panamanian government simply declared the case closed.

By November 2014, Attorney General Betzaida Pitti had publicly declared the women dead of a hiking accident, after having been “dragged to death” in a river system.

Some critics have taken issue with Pitti’s government-sanctioned hypothesis.

“The official version of the story makes no sense,” says Enrique Arrocha, the lawyer who represented the Kremers family in the case, when we meet at a popular restaurant named for the nearby volcano.

“The problem is that the government’s hypothesis is completely illogical,” says attorney Arrocha, who is short and energetic and wears a camouflage shirt to our interview at the restaurant, as if he were expecting an ambush.

The day before, when we arranged this meeting over the phone, he’d hinted that his life has been threatened over the Kremers-Froon case. Perhaps for that reason, he’s accompanied to our table by a bouncer-sized bodyguard.

“If my client and Miss Froon had died of natural causes,” Arrocha says in a rapid whisper, so as not to be overheard by nearby tables, “grease from decomposition would impregnate the clothes and backpack.”

The bodyguard and I both lean in with interest, and Arrocha continues in the same hushed tone:

“It’s almost impossible for the bones to be in this condition,” he says, and points out that the lead forensic examiner had publicly speculated that lime might have been used to hasten decomposition.

“The evidence seems to have been manipulated in order to hide something,” says Arrocha, who at one point threatened to take the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“At the very least there should have been a criminal investigation,” he slaps his hand on the table. “Even the [Panamanian] forensic examiners wanted to do that. But the prosecutor threw out all our petitions.”

Some high-profile members of the Panamanian press also were skeptical about the official theory.

Adelita Coriat, who covered the story for La Estrella, one of the country’s largest papers, believes “the investigation would have been more robust if the authorities had found the complete skeletons of the girls.”

The first official search party didn’t get under way until April 6—almost a week after the women went missing, according to information The Daily Beast received from Panama’s National System for Civil Protection (SINAPROC). Even worse, as Coriat points out in an email to The Daily Beast, no chain of custody was established for the recovered evidence.

“I have many doubts,” she says, “about the government hypothesis.”

For instance, when the contents of the backpack were examined by experts at the Dutch Forensic Institute, they discovered more than 30 unidentified fingerprints—but Panama had failed to record prints from any of the indigenous people involved in the case.

One of the hardest details for Coriat to swallow, she says, is how the backpack was allegedly found washed up on the riverbank—and with bone fragments found both upstream and down from that spot—yet the electronics inside the pack were relatively undamaged.

“The intact conditions of the clothes and wallet seem to contradict the hypothesis of the prosecution,” says Coriat, citing verbatim a criminologist she interviewed in the course of her original investigation.

In the now-crowded Baru restaurant, Lawyer Arrocha tries to voice his concerns over the noise of a crowd of locals gathered to watch a soccer game on the satellite feed—a luxury in these remote mountains.

“No forensics examination was ever done at the crime scene!” Arrocha holds up his index finger, starting his count of the policing blunders.

“None of the dog teams ever got near the scene either—including the Dutch dog teams!” He’s half-shouting now, but nobody can hear him over the cheers and jeers for the futbol game.

“Then the indigenas just showed up with all these bones in a bag, and the prosecution accepted them.” He pulls down the last finger.

“But nothing was ever verified!”

According to critics like Arrocha and Coriat, the government has a clear-cut motive for insisting on an accident scenario, instead of at least looking into the possibility of a homicide:

“It’s the need to protect tourism,” Arrocha says, echoing those involved in the Humphrey case.

Tourism in Panama accounts for about $4 billion a year, just over 18 percent of the nation’s total GDP.

When I ask him why the Kremer family ultimately declined to take the case to the ICJ, Arrocha says that the family might have preferred psychological closure to learning any more unpleasant facts.

“You don’t see what you don’t want to see,” he says.

A few days later, when I meet again with top guide Plinio Montenegro, I ask him about Arrocha’s suspicions.

“There are many ways to die up there in the mountains,” says Plinio, who continued to lead police search parties for some two weeks after Kris and Lisanne were reported missing. His list of hazards includes disorienting terrain, jumping vipers, jaguars, and treacherous river crossings.

“Any criminals [in the area] would face the same risks as the holandesas themselves,” Plinio muses aloud. The general lack of mobility would cut both ways, he says, and all the trails in the area were searched at the time.

“If a third party was involved,” Plinio asks himself, as if still haunted by the question, “how come we never found any sign of them?”

Then the guide crosses himself, and kisses his fingertips.

“There are a lot of ways to die up there,” he says again.

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  • Peru: Band of Rolex Thieves raising havoc
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  • Cuba: Sound Sample of Sonic Warfare that diplomats heard
  • Cuba honors Ecuador President Correa for Assistance in Construction projects
  • Cuba: Google Activates Line of Caching Servers
  • One Expat's story in Cuba, how life can go wrong very fast
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  • Quito, Ecuador: History of Tramways
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Dominican Republic

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  • Dominican Republic: Two Journalists Shot Dead During Live Facebook Broadcast
  • Dominican Republic: Three U.S. citizens, Canadian model arrested, allegedly filming scenes for porno movie in public
  • German Tourist Murdered over necklace by assailants in Dominican Republic
  • U.S. Citizen Murdered in Dominican Republic

Drug Activity

  • Ecuador: Drug Trafficking Statistics
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  • Peru: Off of Coast 7.1 earthquake, deaths, damage reported
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Easter Island

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Ecuador Emergency

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Ecuador Hotels

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Ecuador Real Estate

  • Ecuador: Professional Relocation Services, Journeyman Jack
  • EcuaAssist, Full Expert Services for the Expat in Ecuador
  • Real Estate Sales/Rentals Salinas, Ecuador - Island Estates International
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Ecuador Services

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Ecuador Spanish Schools

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Ecuador Tours

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Ecuador Travel

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Ecuador Trivia

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Ecuador Videos

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El Salvador

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Enviromental Issues

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  • Company in Ecuador breeds rare frogs, trying to stop illegal pet trade
  • World's Largest Mining firm opens office in Ecuador - TARGET IS COPPER
  • Wikileaks reports heavily armed police outside Ecuador's embassy in London
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  • Where is Julian Assange? No one seems to know
  • Russia makes inroads into Latin America
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Explosives / Bombs

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  • Head of La Familia Michoacana drug trafficking organization caught in Mexico

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Galapagos Islands

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  • Travel Ecuador: Galapagos Islands
  • Galapagos Islands, Ecuador: After three years no resolution in the death of U.S. expat
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  • Disbarred Attorney from U.S. Convicted of plotting to fly cocaine from Ecuador
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Human Rights Latin America

  • LGBT Rights in Ecuador
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  • Ecuador: Anti-Press Campaign by Former President Correa, caused lasting damage to journalism
  • Ecuador: Foreign Ministry still aligned with former President's position on free speech

Human Smuggling

  • Ecuador: Sex Trafficking of the Indigenous, seldom reported or discussed
  • Three Ecuadorian women accept work in Chile to find out it was sex work, escape
  • Sonoita Arizona: Human Smugglers Stopped bringing in Mexican Nationals

Intelligence

  • Ecuador's Intelligence Capabilities (2013)
  • Latin America key center for Hezbollah's global financial network (observations, opinion)
  • Nicaragua: Russia constructing electronic intelligence facility
  • Detained ISIS operative confirms terrorist operating cells in Anapra Mexico
  • Ecuador Mobile Phone Operators to tackle stolen phone problem, improve natural disaster response
  • Ecuador: Outlook for 4G Broadband Networks
  • Supermaxi Ecuador victim of social media spreading of fake offers from retailer
  • Study Says Out of 78 Countries, Ecuador Scores Next to Last in 4G Speed/Service
  • Ecuador: State Owned CET to invest $4.3 million in high-speed broadband communications for govt.
  • Jamaica: Tourist from U.S. killed in bus crash, was on cruise
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Labor Issues

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  • Santiago Chile: Thousands of Passengers impacted by transportation strike

Latin America Aviation

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Latin America Book Review - Recorded Interviews with Authors

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Latin America Health

  • Expat states concerns about medical care in Ecuador
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  • Venezuela: Entire Health Care System on Verge of Collapse
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Latin America Indigenous Issues

  • Ecuador: President is Urged to Protect Human Rights Defenders and Activists after attacks
  • Ecuador: President Moreno making efforts to dialogue with Indigenous groups

Latin America Mining

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Latin America News

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Latin America Travel

Latin america wikileaks.

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Latin America Womens Issues

  • Ecuador: Number of femicide cases up, women demand state of emergency
  • Ecuador: Statistics regarding femicide include 77% attackers use knives, strangulation
  • Quito Ecuador: City wants to relocate sex workers from historic center
  • Nicaragua: National Assembly to reform law to combat gender-based violence
  • Fifty percent of human trafficking gangs in Mexico operate out of Tlaxcala
  • Martinique, Accused pedophile priest dies in Martinique
  • Tourist/Expat Murdered in Mexico
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Mexico Hotels

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  • Michoacán, Mexico: Tourist from Ireland murdered, girlfriend from Arizona injured in robbery
  • Lu’um Balam, Cancun Mexico: Russian tourist dead in bio park cavern, body not recovered
  • Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: Cartel Gunmen Storm Popular Tourist Beach Beach (Video)
  • Morelia, Mexico: Police Raid on 2 Nightclubs Nets 6 Trafficking Suspects
  • Churintzio, Michoacan: Mexican Vice Admiral Assassinated by Knights Templar
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  • Some Americans May Dump Trump, thinking of moving to latin america
  • 13 die as tourist boat capsizes near Corn Islands Nicaragua
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  • Ecuador enters new agreement to pay debt to Schlumberger
  • Ecuador's attempt to extort Chevron begins to wind down (Opinion)
  • Ecuador has plenty of unharnessed oil potential, most of it under the Amazon forest
  • Ecuador: Military locates clandestine oil operation connected to national pipeline

Organized Crime

  • Chihuahua, Mexico: Experts report security situation deteriorating
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OXFAM Latin America

  • Colombia: NGOs states average 27 children raped daily in armed conflict
  • Mexico: GMOs threaten the crusade against hunger
  • Latin America: Peasant leader warns growing threat of violence against huma rights defenders
  • Opinion: agribusiness dangerous transactions
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  • Panama: U.S. Tourist Found Strangled to Death
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  • Top Five Retirement Destinations for 2017: Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia
  • Paraguay, Major Marijuana Powerhouse
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  • Paraguay: 25 Tons of Venezuelan Bills(currency) found in home
  • Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay: Flooding causes evacuation of over 100,000 people
  • Lima Peru: Authorities locate dead dogs destined to be sold to Chinese Restaurant
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Peru Spanish Schools

  • Air Mancora to offer flights between northern Peru to Guayaquil Ecuador in 2017

Police/Military Activity

  • Ecuador Corruption Network Exposed for Candidates to Gain Entrance to Police Academy
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  • Ecuador: Protester Verbally Dresses Down Correa Body Guards taking pictures of her license plate (Video)

Puerto Rico

  • Puerto Rico: Intercontinental Hotel Robbed
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  • Expert's view on Iran's export revolution to Latin America
  • Fanesca in Ecuador, a soup like no other
  • Mexico: Pope's jet attacked by laser on final approach to Mexico City

Shining Path

  • Ayacucho Peru: Shining Path painted symbols showing up in historic city center
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  • Ciudad Juarez, Mexico: Authorities Capture Sinaloa Cell Leader
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  • Ecuador: Drugs Seized have Ties to Mexico via Sinaloa Cartel
  • Three Asian criminal organizations providing Sinaloa Cartel precursor chemicals

Social Issues

South america.

  • U.N. South America economy to contract 0.8 percent, Central America to expand
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  • Suriname/U.S.: Son of President pleads guilty to charges sought to offer base for Hezbollah
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Trinidad & Tobago

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Uncategorized

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United States

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Venezuela Conflict 2014

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Weather/Climate

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Bodies found in Mexico where Australian, US tourists went missing

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Members of a rescue team work at a site where three bodies were found, in La Bocana

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3 surfers shot in the head while visiting Mexico were found dead in a well, in an area where tourists are usually safe

  • Three men were found dead in a well in Baja California, Mexico, after being shot on a surfing trip.
  • Officials believe the tourists were attacked by three people who attempted to steal their truck.
  • The incident has sparked protests in Ensenada, demanding safety for tourists and locals alike.

Insider Today

Three men in their early 30s have been found dead in a well after being shot in the head while on a surfing trip in Baja California, Mexico.

Two Australian brothers, Callum and Jake Robinson, and their American friend, Jack Carter Rhoad, were near the popular coastal town of Ensenada when they went missing last week.

Their bodies were found in the 15-foot-deep well on Saturday after a dayslong search, and have since been identified by family members, Reuters reported .

Jake, 30, had flown to the US to visit Callum, 33, who was pursuing his dream of being a professional lacrosse player. The week after his trip, Jake was due to start a new job as a doctor in Victoria, Australia. Carter Rhoad, 30, was working as an apparel designer in San Diego, the New York Post reported.

They were last seen on 27 April and, when they didn't show up to an Airbnb booking a couple of days later, were reported missing and an investigation was launched by local authorities and the FBI.

It's thought that the tourists were attacked after they defended themselves from three people who were trying to steal their truck.

Baja California state prosecutor Maria Andrade suggested that the attackers wanted the truck for its tires and shot the three men in their heads when they resisted, Reuters reported.

A burnt-out vehicle suspected to be the surfers' truck was also found in the area, alongside abandoned tents, and a phone linked to them.

Three Mexican nationals, two men and a woman, have been arrested as suspects.

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A fourth body was also found in the well, but it's believed to be older and from an earlier incident, the Guardian reported .

Turf wars between drug gangs are common in Baja California , which is one of Mexico's most dangerous and violent states. However, Ensenada is generally considered to be safe — about 75 miles south of California, it is a popular spot for US tourists.

The surfers' loved ones have paid tribute

Friends and family of the Robinsons and Carter Rhoad have been sharing tributes to the young men.

"Callum and Jake are beautiful human beings. We love them so much and this breaks our heart," the brothers' parents said in a statement, the BBC reported .

Callum's teammates from Stevenson University Lacrosse Club said in a statement on social media: "With his beautiful long hair and charming smile, he truly embodied the nickname 'big koala' — warm, friendly, and always there to lend a helping hand."

His girlfriend, Emily Horwath, said in an Instagram story that her heart was "shattered into a million pieces."

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Emily Horwath (@emily_livia)

"I don't have the words right now... I will love you forever," she wrote.

Protesters and mourners took to the streets of Ensenada on Sunday to share their sadness and anger.

They marched with messages on surfboards, such as "They only wanted to surf — we demand safe beaches."

Surfers also held a "paddle out" ocean vigil in memory of the Robinsons and Carter Rhoad.

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Where 3 Dead Tourists Were Found Fast, Thousands Remain Missing

In Mexico, where tens of thousands of people have disappeared, the robust operation to quickly find the remains of three foreigners, from Australia and the United States, felt like a rare exception.

Three trucks parked near a hole in the ground with the ocean nearby.  A group of people, some wearing safety vests and hard hats, stand near the trucks.

By Emiliano Rodríguez Mega

Reporting from Mexico City

When two Australian brothers drove down to Mexico’s northwest coast from San Diego last week with their American friend, they were looking to catch the crisp waves that make Baja California a popular destination among travelers from across the world.

But soon after arriving to the Mexican city of Ensenada, Callum Robinson’s Instagram posts of his surf adventure ceased. The group stopped answering calls and texts.

He and his brother Jake never showed up at an Airbnb they had booked, their mother said in a social media post, pleading for help from anyone who had seen her two sons.

On Sunday, Mexican authorities announced that the bodies of the three tourists, found at the bottom of a well with gunshot wounds to their heads, had been identified by their families .

The men had been killed in a carjacking gone wrong, the authorities said, and suspects had been detained within days of the men’s disappearance. More people are being investigated.

It was a tragic yet somewhat fast resolution to a case that had drawn international attention.

For many local Mexicans, however, the quick response from the authorities to locate the Robinson siblings and Jack Carter Rhoad, the American, and make arrests seemed to be an exception in a country where tens of thousands of missing-person cases have sat for years without ever being solved.

The government said in March that about 100,000 people are missing in Mexico, though the United Nations says that could be an undercount.

“It is very difficult, except for high-profile cases like the one that just happened, for the authorities to immediately trigger the search,” said Adriana Jaén, a sociologist based in Ensenada who provides legal, emotional and logistical support to people searching for their missing loved ones.

Federal and state officials in Mexico tend to claim that violence levels have dropped even as official data contradicts them. The local authorities have themselves been involved in disappearances — in Baja California, municipal police officers from Ensenada were recently accused in the disappearance of one man. And then there’s also a lack of resources to investigate.

So it’s noticeable when a case appears to receive special attention.

“The message those of us who work on these issues get is that there are lives that matter,” Ms. Jaén added, “and there are others that don’t.”

There are more than 17,300 active disappearance investigations in Baja California state, according to government data provided to Elementa DDHH, a human rights group that has studied the disappearances in the state.

In many instances, it’s unclear whether the missing person was found; if they were the victim of a crime; and, if so, whether anyone was arrested. Some cases even lack even basic information for beginning a search, a government recount of the disappeared found last year .

“We don’t know exactly how many people are missing and how many have been located,” said Renata Demichelis, the Mexico director of Elementa DDHH. “The authorities don’t tell us.”

The available data, however, offer a hint of the problem’s magnitude.

In 2017, state prosecutors opened about 760 disappearance investigations in Baja California. In five years, the number jumped more than threefold, according to Elementa DDHH .

“This is an ongoing phenomenon, and it’s increasing exponentially,” said Ms. Demichelis, adding that several factors are contributing to the worsening disappearance crisis in Baja California, such as drug trafficking, internal displacement, migration and gender violence.

The state’s attorney general, María Elena Andrade Ramírez, said in an interview that prosecutors have so far ruled out the possibility that the killing of the Robinson brothers and Mr. Rhoad was linked to organized crime groups.

Those responsible had tried to seize the tourists’ pickup truck, she said. When they resisted, a man took out a gun and killed them.

“This aggression seems to have occurred in an unforeseen, circumstantial manner,” Ms. Andrade Ramírez said. “They took advantage when they saw the vehicle out in the open, in that remote location, where they knew that there were no witnesses.”

In a news conference this weekend, a reporter asked Ms. Andrade Ramírez if one needs to be a foreigner in Baja California to have state authorities act as swiftly as they did in the case of the missing tourists.

“Every investigation has its own process,” the attorney general answered. “And there are times when we have to take care of every detail, which takes a certain amount of time, to achieve a good result.”

On Sunday, after the victims’ families identified the bodies in the morgue, Adriana Moreno, a local resident, said she felt conflicting emotions.

“I’m so glad they found them so quickly. That’s my joy, my satisfaction,” said Ms. Moreno, 60. She has been looking for her son, Víctor Adrián Rodríguez Moreno, since 2009, when he and two of his co-workers — employees of an import business — were abducted in the northern state of Coahuila.

“But 15 years after the disappearance of my boy, there’s nothing,” Ms. Moreno said. “They make me feel like missing people come in levels of importance.”

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega is a reporter and researcher for The Times based in Mexico City, covering Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. More about Emiliano Rodríguez Mega

Bodies of murdered Australian, US surfers identified in Mexico

The three men were killed during a camping and surfing trip along Mexico’s Pacific coast.

A man raises a surfboard reading 'Australia We Are With You' during a rally in Mexico. Other people are walking alongside him

Mexican authorities have confirmed the deaths of an American and two Australians who went missing in northern Mexico last week after the tourists’ parents identified their bodies.

The bodies of Australian brothers Callum and Jake Robinson as well as their friend, United States citizen Carter Rhoad, were found at the bottom of a well in the state of Baja California after a days-long search.

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All three were in their early 30s and had been shot in the head.

“The victims’ relatives were able to identify them without the need for genetic tests,” a statement from the state prosecutor’s office said.

The three men went missing while on a surfing holiday near the popular tourist town of Ensenada, about 90 minutes south of the US-Mexico border on the Pacific coast.

They are believed to have been killed after resisting an attempt to steal their pick-up truck, state prosecutor Maria Elena Andrade Ramírez said at a news conference.

The vehicle, which had been set on fire, was found nearby.

Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers expressed sympathy for the Robinson family. “I think the whole country’s heart goes out to all of their loved ones. It has been an absolutely horrendous, absolutely horrific ordeal and our thoughts are with all of them today,” he said.

Three suspects, two men and one woman, have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the case.

One of those arrested has a history of violence, drug dealing and robbery, officials said.

Investigators said earlier that the bodies were recovered from a well about 50 feet (15 metres) deep in an “advanced state of decomposition.”

Another corpse found at the site had been there longer and was unconnected to the others, officials said.

The three surfers were last seen on April 27 and reported missing a couple of days later, when authorities launched a multi-day search with the help from the US’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Baja California, one of Mexico’s most violent states because of organised crime gangs, is also known for its inviting beaches and the Ensenada area is considered among its safer parts.

At the news conference, Andrade Ramírez was questioned by one reporter who expressed approval that such a massive and rapid search was mounted for the foreigners, but asked why, when local people disappear in the area, it took weeks, months, or even years for action to be taken.

“Do you have to be a foreigner in Baja California in order for there to be an investigation if something happens to you?′ asked the reporter, who did not identify herself by name. ”Every investigation is different,” Andrade Ramírez replied.

As if to underscore that point, dozens of mourners, surfers and demonstrators gathered on Sunday in Ensenada to pay their respects to the surfers and voice their anger over the deaths.

“Ensenada is a mass grave,” read one placard carried by protesters.

Many marched with their boards scrawled with messages, including “beaches, security, freedom, peace”, “no more deaths” and “Australia, we are with you”.

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COMMENTS

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  16. The Missing Panama Girls: A Closer Look At One Photo

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