A gap year is usually a carefree opportunity to travel the world and have fun before you settle down and start a job. This is what Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon had in mind once they had completed their studies. The two young Dutch women graduated by the end of 2013, Kris in art education and Lisanne in applied psychology.
The two women were from Amersfoort in Holland. After their time at university, both began working in a local cafe in their hometown. It was here that they struck a friendship and started to plan a trip abroad. Over the next six months, Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon saved enough money to make this a reality.
By March 2014, they were ready to leave The Netherlands and embark on their exciting journey to Panama. The plan was to spend time traveling around the country, volunteering, and taking in the sights. The girls also wanted to improve their Spanish speaking skills, so they arranged to teach schoolchildren for a while too.
Their vacation started well, as pictures from the first couple of weeks show Kris and Lisanne having a good time. Before volunteering, they scheduled several excursions and activities to keep themselves occupied. One morning, they set out on a hike through Panama's thick forests and intended to return to their accommodation later that evening. This should have been a relaxing day in the sun.
Unfortunately, it would be the last day that Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon were ever seen.
Two Friends Arrive In Paradise
On March 15th, 2014, Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon arrived in Costa Rica before moving eastwards to Panama. They spent the first weeks of their trip traveling along the coast of Panama, enjoying the beaches, immersing in the local culture, and improving their Spanish. By March 29th, they had arrived in the town of Boquete in western Panama, where they had arranged to help out in a school.
The pair found out that they had come one week early and could not teach yet. They had to change their plans and booked a few excursions for the week ahead to pass the time. On April 1st, the girls left the home of the host family they were staying with. They set out for a hike at 11 am and probably hoped to return by the evening. Kris and Lisanne took a local dog with them on the walk.
The route they chose would take them along a trail called El Pianista that passes by a volcano. This continues into the dense forest, where it crosses a few streams and leads to some fields. At a certain point on this path, signs warn tourists to turn around. This is because local tribes mainly use sections of the trail, and being so far from help, they are considered unsafe.
Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon started the hike in good spirits and took numerous photos together, smiling along the way and enjoying the natural beauty. They can be seen walking across the creeks while surrounded by greenery. These were the last photos of the girls alive.
Kris Kremers And Lisanne Froon Did Not Return
When the evening came on April 1st, there was no sign of the pair. This was strange since the dog that accompanied them had found its way back. Kris and Lisanne's host family did a quick sweep of the local area to try and find the girls to no avail. They decided to wait until the morning for them to return before calling for help.
The two girls had scheduled a tour of Boquete on April 2nd with a guide but did not show up. It was at this point that worried locals notified the Panamanian authorities.
On April 3rd, detectives began to search the town as well as the surrounding forest areas. Residents of Boquete joined in with the search effort. With no sign of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, their parents eventually flew to Panama along with Dutch authorities on April 6th. At this time, they conducted a full-scale 10-day search of the forests surrounding the town.
After 10 weeks, detectives in Panama were losing hope as the investigation was leading nowhere. Then out of the blue, they received a crucial tip-off.
Police Found Important But Disturbing Clues
A village woman inexplicably found a backpack by a riverbank and handed it to the police. Inside it was various possessions belonging to Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, including sunglasses, water bottles, money, and passports. Everything was in good condition, but the most important clues from the backpack came from the girls' phones and a camera.
It was very worrying that the backpack lay many hours away from where Kris and Lisanne were staying. What police found in the call logs was a cause for yet more concern. Police looked through both cell phones to find out which numbers were called and the corresponding times.
Astonishingly, they determined that the phones continued to be used up until April 11th―10 days after the pair disappeared. 911 (Panama's emergency number) and 112 (Holland's emergency number) were dialed 77 times. The first of these calls came at 4:39 pm, hours after Kris and Lisanne started their walk.
The dense jungle meant that these apparent calls for help did not get through to the emergency services. Police also found evidence of failed attempts to unlock the phones. The pictures that they saw on the camera provided more chilling glimpses into the fate of the girls.
Creepy Photographs Document Their Walk
The first pictures from the hike are happy scenes of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon enjoying their day out. They show the girls moving deeper into the forest and uncharted territory. There is a long gap between these and the next group of photos. Strangely one photo in between was missing, and experts were unable to recover it.
The next photos were very haunting. Taken using the flash in the early hours of April 8th, the shots describe a chaotic episode within the jungle. Police found 90 pictures between 1 and 4 am. Most show little more than raindrops and trees in the darkness. One image captures the back of Kris Kremer's head with some blood visible.
Who was taking these photos? Was it the girls trying to make their way through the forest in a panic? Or was some unknown suspect trying to operate the camera? The failed attempts to unlock the phone were also suspicious. Did one of the girls try to unlock the other phone unsuccessfully, or is this proof of a stranger failing to do so?
The discovery of the backpack prompted the police to search the nearby area. This next search would confirm the fate of both girls.
Kris And Lisanne's Remains Were Discovered
Detectives soon found Kris Kremers' clothes folded suspiciously by the river, not far from the backpack. In the coming months, they made a far more horrifying discovery. In the vicinity of the backpack, detectives came across a hiking boot with a person's foot and leg bones still inside. They also located a pelvic bone.
DNA tests confirmed everybody's worst fears as the remains indeed belonged to Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon. Froon's bones still had some flesh on them, while Kremers' mysteriously looked like they were bleached.
What Or Who Killed Kris Kremers And Lisanne Froon?
The question on everyone's lips was, how did this happen? This was such a tragic end to a happy occasion, and a few theories about the cause of death have emerged. Law enforcement's verdict was that the girls had fallen off a bridge into the river and then drifted downstream.
It is also plausible that Kris Kremers And Lisanne Froon got lost on their journey. Being unprepared for the tough conditions, they could not survive for very long without water and shelter and slowly lost the battle with nature.
Another theory is that someone did murder the girls. Police did discover fingerprints on the contents of the backpack but could not link them to any suspects. Some have suggested that the nighttime images were an attempt by a killer to confuse future investigations. The same can be said for the many emergency calls.
Nobody can rule murder out, especially when you consider that Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon ventured into potentially dangerous territory. The path they walked along was not a typical tourist route, so it is possible that somebody followed and attacked them.
Officially, there is no definite cause of death, and the strange details of this case leave it open to much speculation.