It bugs the hell out of me why this has not been solved.
Two Dutch girls, Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, died while hiking through a Panamanian jungle, in a weird case that includes body parts, unusual photos, bleached bones, and an unnerving sense that something was terribly wrong.
Many hikers go off the beaten track and get into trouble. Some don’t come back. In the case of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, researchers are torn on whether it was an accident or whether something nefarious had gone down.
Read the FULL STORY in Bizarre True Crime Volume 10.
Having saved for six months, Kris and Lisanne arrived in Panama on 15th March 2014.
They travelled around the Central American country for two weeks before arriving in Boquete, in the province of Chiriquí, a mountain town and gateway to the great jungles.
On 1st April 2014, both women accessed their Facebook profiles and let their friends and families know they would be exploring the clouded forests around the giant active Baru Volcano (Volcán Barú).
Baru is the tallest mountain in Panama, at 11,398 ft (3,474 metres), and the twelfth tallest in Central America. It holds a unique position that if you were to climb it on a clear day, you could see the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other.
The volcano itself was perhaps the only witness to their demise.
One of the dogs from a local restaurant followed the girls into the jungle at around 11am, as it had a habit of accompanying hikers in the region.
On the night of 1st April, the dog returned to its owners without Kris and Lisanne. It was then the owners realised that something bad may have happened. The family the women were staying with confirmed they had not returned to the residence.
Both women had promised to text every single day without fail. Back in the Netherlands, Kris and Lisanne’s parents stopped receiving text messages from them.
Due to the location, it was a possibility that they had simply lost signal, gone deeper into the jungle, and had made their way back in the middle of the night.
But on the morning of the 2nd when they missed their connection with a local mountain guide, it became evident that something had gone terribly wrong.
In the days following the disappearance, the women’s parents arrived in Panama accompanied by Dutch officials, but a large search of the area turned up no clues.
Over two months later, on 14th June, a local woman discovered a backpack in a rice paddy along the banks of the river leading out of Boquete, many miles from where the women had entered the jungle.
The backpack belonged to Lisanne. It contained sunglasses, a small amount of cash in American Dollars, her passport, water bottle, her camera, their underwear, and both their phones.
Despite the location of the backpack, the items inside were in near-perfect condition.
Six hours after the girls had entered the jungle, someone dialled 112 and 911, the emergency numbers in the Netherlands and Panama respectively.
On 4th April, three days after they entered the jungle, Kris’s phone battery died.
Lisanne’s iPhone was turned on and off for another day in an attempt to make a connection. She had dialled the emergency number 77 times before 5th April when no more calls were made.
However, the phone’s history didn’t end there. Between the 5th and 11th April, the iPhone was turned on and off multiple times, but the phone was not accessed.
It meant either the wrong pin code had been entered or no pin code had been entered. A detailed investigation of the phone showed the wrong pin code had been entered on some of those occasions.
If the phone logs were disturbing enough, the photos were on a whole other level. The first photos were taken on the morning of 1st April and showed the women on a trail near the Continental Divide.
On 8th April, seven days after the disappearance, 90 photos were taken on the camera showing their belongings spread out over rocks, bags, and sweet wrappers.
They appeared to be in deep jungle in the middle of the night. Other photos taken with the flash showed mounds of dirt, a backpack strap, and a mirror on a rock.
The most disturbing was a photo of the back of Kris’s head. Some sleuths believe they can see blood on the top of her head but it’s not clear enough to prove. There are no photos of the women’s faces or other body parts.
Two months after the discovery of the backpack, Lisanne’s boot was found, with her decomposed foot still inside. Soon after that, the rest of her bones were found, still with decomposing pieces of flesh hanging of them.
A pelvic bone was found near the boot, belonging to Kris. A few miles away, the remainder of her bones were found, spread over a wide area. DNA testing confirmed the remains belonged to both women.
Unlike Lisanne’s remains, Kris’s bones had been bleached clean, they were perfectly white. Forensic testing confirmed the bones had not been weathered naturally.
Instead, they had been chemically cleaned using bleach or something similar. However, a recent investigation into the case could find no evidence they had been bleached. Yet, they couldn’t explain why the bones were so clean.
The forensic examination of the bones confirmed there were no scratches on any of them, neither natural nor purposeful.
UPDATE Dec 2022: Within a month of this article going live, the following review from TripAdvisor has been deleted by the author. TripAdvisor’s deleted reviews do not appear to be cached or shown on the Wayback Machine. Due to its deletion, kindly take this first review with a pinch of salt. It remains here as a source of discussion.
When this story broke around the world, some Northern European female travellers, spoke of their concern and fear of some of the hiking guides in the area.
Some have posted reviews to TripAdvisor warning people of one of the local male guides. The first one is from a solo Dutch female who used a guide from the same area. The review was posted in May 2022.
“He was super friendly, helped me, held my hand during the climbs on the pianista trail. Until I realized that that help was only there for me, not for my 3 fellow travellers. In the days that followed, I was besieged by messages, invitations.”
“During a horse ride and a trip to hot springs, he suddenly turned out to be our driver (while he had nothing to do with horse riding) and he got into the hot spring. Not exactly what you expect from a taxi driver.”
“I didn’t feel comfortable in his surroundings and was very happy that my fellow travellers had accompanied me so that I was not alone with him, which was what he meant. In the 3 days I was in Boquete, I got constant messages asking to come to his home. I have my doubts about his intentions. As a European woman, don’t go alone.”
Another, posted in 2019, was even more damning.
“It took me almost a year to finally post this review. I strongly recommend women to not hire Feliciano as your guide if you’re by yourself.”
“Not long after we left he subtly started to flirt with me and also touching me, first my hand, but also my arms, shoulder and legs, even after telling him many times to stop doing that.”
“He wears a big machete and suggested to chop off my legs. He has an obsession for Northern European women and I felt very unsafe.”
Sexual harassment does not a killer make. However, there are many other stories about guides and locals in the area, who had at one time or another, left tourists feeling scared for their lives. Mostly Northern European female tourists.
Yet, both reviews were posted many years after the pair’s deaths. It’s possible a narrative was building against the guide as a possible suspect.
The guide in question lives in a cabin with his son a few miles from where the bones were found, yet there is no solid evidence to confirm his involvement.
In recent years, theories of cannibal natives and human traffickers have been spread around. There is no evidence for cannibals in the region.
Human traffickers are known to operate in Panama, but the fact the pair’s bones were found suggests they were not abducted into the slave trade.
Panama is mostly safe for tourists; the country thrives on the industry. But there are many towns and cities in Central and South American countries that are considered dangerous.
Boquete is a small town with a main street and a number of side roads. Venture into the bad part of town and you’ll find drug dealers and groups of people playing gangsters.
Some visitors to the town after the bodies were found, were convinced the two women were murdered, but the residents seemed to be silent about what really happened.
It’s a possibility the girls may have stumbled upon something they shouldn’t have. If they came across drug dealers or wannabe gangsters, things could have gone wrong quickly.
The most unusual clue to come out of the jungle is the photo of the top of Kris’s head, taken with a flash in the middle of the night, seven days after they entered the jungle.
Had Kris succumbed to delirium and delusion? Because of her state of mind, maybe she thought she had heard or seen something in the jungle and was using the flash to deter the danger.
If Kris had survived seven days in the jungle, rather than taking weird pictures of the ground and darkness, she might have known she was going to die.
In those cases, a person might take a photo of their face or a message for their family back home. But the closest to a personal photo was the top of her head.
When I put on my Agatha Christie had and turn on web-sleuthing mode, I come to two possible conclusions.
One, that Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon suffered an accident, got lost, and died from delirium in the woods. Two, that they were attacked by someone or a group living in one of the nearby towns.
If there had been no phone logs or photos, then the narrative of two women going into a jungle alone and succumbing to accidental deaths would make sense.
But there were phone logs confirming one of the phones was checking for a signal ten days later. And there were photos.
But if a killer was in the jungle with them that day, why did they not destroy the phones? Why take photos in the middle of the night, seven days after the women disappeared? Why not destroy the backpack?
One might have argued that the girl’s purposefully disappeared, but the bones say otherwise.
The two Dutch men in the village having an early lunch with them that day were never identified. Could they have been more involved?
Did a local wondering through the woods at night stumble upon the bodies and used the camera’s flash to see what had gone down, then become scared, and threw the backpack away?
It is perhaps a sad ending that we may never truly know exactly what happened to Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon.
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It bugs the hell out of me why this has not been solved.
I feel like there should be more killers who use the internet especially in today's world.
Thanks for this. Anymore podcast lists coming anytime soon??
Not just females.
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