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True Crime Profile: Mystery in the mountains of Panama

Cameras, whether the real deal or on your phone, can capture just about everything. They capture a baby’s first steps, your dog’s cute tricks, a perfectly purple sunset or even just your bowl of poke on a Monday morning. What people typically don’t capture is a timeline of eerie moments leading up to their last moments. This was the strange but true case for 21-year-old Kris Kremers and 22-year-old Lisanne Froon.  

In the camera found after their disappearance, an eerie set of images highlight the trails of two women and their locations before they died. They traveled to Panama for a six-week vacation, which was cut short four weeks early because of the tragic events that ensued. Kremers and Froon arrived in Boquete on March 29, 2014, where they planned to volunteer and stay with a local family. On April 1, the two set off on a trail called El Pianista, which was near Boquete. The following day, Kremers and Froon missed their appointment with a local guide, which raised concern for their safety.  By April 6, parents of both women flew into Panama to start a search for their daughters. They enlisted the help of police, dog units and detectives to find the missing pair, but to no avail. 

For months, no leads were discovered;  considering that Kremers and Froon weren’t prepared to be out for more than a day,  the forecast was bleak. After a long and stressful ten weeks, Froon’s backpack was found on June 14. The pack held $83, Froon’s passport, two pairs of sunglasses, a water bottle, Froon’s camera, two bras and both women’s phones. Investigators immediately went through the phones to track Kremers’ and Froon’s movement, but what they found only led to more questions. The phones histories recounted that just a few hours into the hike, the women called 112 (the emergency line in Panama), and shortly thereafter called 911. The history also highlighted that Froon’s phone was the first to die, on April 4, and was never used again. Though Kremers’ phone stayed charged for longer, it was not used to make any more calls after their first attempt, and was only turned on a few more times to search for reception. The phone was next turned on between April 5 and 11, but it is important to note that during this time the PIN was never used. On April 11, the phone was turned on for just an hour before being shut off for the final time during the trip. 

Froon’s camera tells an even more chilling story. Her camera held photos of the two women posing on April 1, which indicated that the women had taken a specific trail at the Continental Divide overlook before going into the wilderness. The images detailed a timeline of events on April 8 between the hours of 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. These photos tell an odd story; they show ninety pictures taken with the flash, seemingly near a ravine or river. These photos depict things such as a twig with plastic bags upon a rock, the back of Kremers’ head and one of their backpacks rested against rocks. However, the images are very dim and provide little context.  

These findings, though limited, helped move the search forward; indeed, Kremers’ denim shorts were soon found on the opposite bank of the tributary, kilometers away from the location of Froon’s backpack. Two months later, a pelvis and a boot were found near where Froon’s backpack had been located. If that isn’t weird enough, the boot had a foot stuck inside. Shortly thereafter, at least 33 scattered bones were found, and determined to belong to Kremers and Froon. It is important to note that while Froon’s bones still had skin attached, Kremers’ bones seemed to be bleached. To make this matter even creepier, when a local forensic examined the bones, they found that there were no discernible marks on the bones at all. 

This case is still open and remains a mystery. Investigators stated that foul play is not ruled out of this investigation; even so, it’s difficult to narrow down the cause of death for these two women. From the eerie pictures to the phone usage history to the way their bones were left, there are very few clear answers. How did they decompose so quickly and why do their bones have no marks? Decomposition tends to wear bones down, and if the bones had been laying around for so long, animals and insects would have done damage.  

Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon went to Panama not realizing this would be the last vacation of their lives, and these two are the only ones who know what happened to them after April 1.