It was April 1st, 2014. Kris and Lisanne, two students from the Netherlands, set out on a hike in Panama with their hosts’ dog. While the dog returned, the young college graduates didn’t. After an extensive search, authorities found evidence that indicated the girls had died. What they didn’t understand, however, is how the girls died exactly. Some believe that the young women could have gotten lost on their hike and fallen off a cliff to their death. Others think that someone may have killed the tourists. While the world may never know the truth, the speculations still run wild…
Lisanne Froon (22) and Kris Kremers (21) were two Dutch students that grew up in Amersfoort, Netherlands. Froon had graduated with a Bachelors degree the previous September while Kremers had just completed her studies that month.
Only a few weeks prior to leaving for Panama, Froon had moved into a dorm room in Amersfoort with Kremers, and they worked at a café together. They both saved up money for six months, as they had planned to travel to Panama together on a special trip to learn Spanish and volunteer with children.
Volunteering With Children
Kremers and Froon arrived in Panama for a six-week vacation on March 15th, 2014. Before arriving in Boquete, a small mountain town, the two girls traveled other parts of Panama for two weeks.
After they finished up that leg of the trip, they set off to Boquete where they intended to assist local communities, volunteer with children, and learn Spanish. They got to town on March 29th and would live with a local family for a month while they volunteered.
Since Kremers and Froon got to town a little earlier, they had some time before the volunteer program began. On Tuesday, April 1st, the two women decided to go for a hike and explore the clouded forests surrounding the active Barú Volcano towards the Continental Divide.
According to their Facebook posts, the duo intended to walk around Boquete. They set out into the forest along the Pianista Trail around 11am. That night, however, the host family grew concerned when their dog had returned without the girls.
When both Kremers and Froon didn’t turn up that night, the community decided to contact the authorities the very next day. Consequently, the families of both girls also became concerned when they didn’t get their usual daily check-in call.
On the morning of April 2nd, they missed an appointment that they had scheduled with a local tour guide. On April 3rd, the authorities began aerial searches of the forest while local residents began conducting a ground search.
Asking For Directions
In the days following the students’ disappearances, authorities conducted foot and aerial searches. After all, 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.
By April 6th, however, the parents of both women grew completely frantic. They flew to Panama along with police, dog units, and detectives from the Netherlands to conduct a full-scale search of the forests for ten days. Their hunt was scaled down on April 14th, though it continued on for ten more weeks.
Froon’s Backpack Was Found
While the families and detectives conducted a massive search, others suspected Froon and Kremers never actually lost their way on the mountain, and were actually victims of a crime in town – but this was later proven false.
Ten weeks after the disappearances, a woman from the local Ngäbe tribe turned in Froon’s blue backpack that she claimed to have found by a riverbank near her village. The backpack contained two pairs of sunglasses, $83 in cash, Froon’s passport, a water bottle, Froon’s camera, and the women’s phones – all packed, dry, and in good condition.
Their Phone Logs
After finding Froon’s and Kremers’ phones, authorities discovered a grim series of events. According to the call logs, their phones remained active for ten days following the pair’s disappearance. During this time, Kremers and Froon repeatedly called for help. They called 112, the international emergency number, and Panama’s emergency number, 911.
They made various emergency calls a few hours into their hike. None of the calls had gone through due to a lack of reception in the area except for one 911 call attempt on April 3rd that lasted for roughly over a second before losing connection.
77 Emergency Call Attempts
According to one report, 77 emergency call attempts were made using Kremers’ iPhone. After these attempted calls, the phones stayed on for some time. Kremers’ locked phone showed someone entered the wrong PIN or password several times.
On April 11th, the phone was turned on at 10:51am, and was turned off for the last time a little over an hour later at 11:56am. Given the timeline, authorities assume that at least one of the women was alive at the time, five days into the search.
Froon’s camera, found in a backpack that turned up, showed evidence of what may have happened. According to some photos from April 1st, it looks like the women could have possibly wandered into the wilderness hours before they actually made their first emergency call.
More than a hundred pictures were on the camera. The first few looked like normal touristy photos with the women smiling together in selfies, but the tone of the pictures soon began to change…
The series of photos were snapped on April 8th and were likely taken between 1am and 4am. One photo showed Kremers with what looked like concern on her face, dated around the time of the emergency calls. A few photos show that they were possibly near a river or a ravine.
Some show a twig with plastic bags and candy wrappers on top of a rock. Another shows what looks like toilet paper and a mirror on another rock, and another shows the back of Kremers’ head with what looks like blood near her temple.
The last photo led to speculation in which Kremers might have suffered a head injury during the hike. Though some of the pictures were of seemingly random objects, experts proposed several theories as to how and why the girls took these photos.
Froon perhaps used the camera for light, or to document Kremers’ last-known whereabouts before seeking help. The photos possibly served as trail markers to help the young women find their way around or back to the rescuers. Others suggested that neither Froon nor Kremers took those photos, but rather someone abducted the women.
Their Clothes Turned Up
After the discovery of Froon’s blue backpack, authorities began to search for the girls in a different area. This time they investigated the surrounding areas of the Serpent River, near the village of Alto Romero.
During the search, Kremers’ clothing turned up; they were neatly arranged on the river’s edge opposite the side that the girls snapped their pictures. 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.
Two months after authorities discovered Kremers’ clothing, further searches revealed human remains. Searchers found a shoe sitting behind a tree along the river where the backpack had allegedly appeared. The shoe contained a sock and a human foot.
By the end of August 2014, DNA tests linked the foot to Froon. Investigators later uncovered more human remains throughout the jungle. Though this evidence was found, it still didn’t answer the question as to how the women died. The bodies were in pieces, likely scattered by the river over time, and much was lost.
Authorities faced the struggle of determining why and how the women tragically lost their lives. They began looking for possible suspects and tried to figure out whether or not the women had company that day besides the dog. The innkeeper the girls spoke to told the authorities that Froon and Kremers were alone.
They had asked him for directions before the hike and at that moment, no one was with them. Police later learned from a Facebook post that the girls had met up with some people before their hike.
In this said Facebook post, Froon and Kremers mentioned that they had just shared a nice brunch with two fellow Dutchmen before embarking on their hike. Interestingly enough, though, that was the very last day that anyone ever saw this pair of women again.
However, no reports surfaced in regards to these two Dutchmen as authorities didn’t thoroughly investigate them. With that, detectives were unable to trace the unsolvable disappearances back to these mystery breakfast dates.
They Suffered An Accident
By March 2015, a little less than a year after the disappearances, investigators reached a verdict in which their research into the case suggested that Froon and Kremers most likely suffered some sort of accident along the trail.
They got lost in the forest and Froon had supposedly fallen a great distance, dying 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 that great a height.
The pictures that were taken showed the date in which the women tried contacting emergency services, most likely after Kremers suffered her injury, but the girls just, unfortunately, had trouble finding their way back in the dark.
It is assumed that Froon died trying to exit the forest, leaving Kremers dead or dying. The remains then decomposed and ended up scattered miles away, thanks to the river. While there was finally some sort of resolution to the mystery, some people still weren’t so sure of this verdict…
Botched The Case
Many claimed the Panamanian authorities botched the case. Adela Coriat, a writer for a Panama paper, said that the whole thing was a mess and 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.
Police Failed To Investigate
There’s no doubt that the lack of damage to the equipment was indeed suspicious, but the police failed to investigate this matter. The Kremers family’s lawyer, Enrique Arrocha, also voiced concern about the handling of the case.
After all, authorities never conducted any sort of forensic investigation at the crime scene. The evidence and its sources remained completely unverified or unconfirmed. In addition to all of these factors, some of the women’s remains are still missing, possibly revealing a more definitive cause of death.
The authorities were completely criticized and ended up in some hot water due to the fact that they mishandled so much of the evidence. More and more conspiracy theories started to surface about the police and government. Did the indigenous people of the area kill the two girls?
Are these deaths the work of the cartels or organ traffickers? While many theories of what happened exist, there seems to be a reoccurring theme that revolves around the Panamanian government in which they are intentionally keeping quiet. Why would do they do this, though?
For The Sake Of Tourism
Some experts involved in the case believe that the government and authorities are staying quiet in the name of tourism, which evidently brings a lot of revenue to Panama.
The idea of Panama being a dangerous destination to travel is potentially harmful to tourism, so it’s just more convenient to conclude that Froon and Kremers died in a hiking accident. Adela Coriat expressed to The Daily Beast that she is saddened by the fact that the Public Ministry hasn’t done anything all because they want to protect tourism.
So, did someone kill Froon and Kremers? Between 2009 and 2017, over 24 other tourists have gone missing in this area or turned up dead. The case was revisited in 2017 in which there was enough evidence to suggest that these disappearances may have been linked 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. After an eighteen-month investigation, the report said that the evidence pointed to homicide.
Still A Mystery
While authorities can reopen this case any time they desire, given how many years have passed, no one can indisputably explain what happened to Froon and Kremers in the depths of the Panamanian jungles. Internet groups continue to research the disappearances.
People continue to debate and discuss what could have happened to these women — were they killed or did they just succumb to nature? All we know is that two young, vivacious college grads excitedly went on a six-week mission trip only to never return or be seen again.