Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon (lost unreleased/uncompressed original Panama trip photos of Dutch tourists; 2014)
Kris Kremers (left) and Lisanne Froon (right); photo allegedly taken on April 1st, 2014 (according to the photo's EXIF data).
Friends Kris Kremers (born August 9th, 1992) and Lisanne Froon (born September 24th, 1991) were two Dutch tourists who went missing under mysterious circumstances in early April of 2014 while on vacation in Panama, allegedly disappearing during a hike on the Pianista trail near Boquete.
While the case has since been declared closed by both the Panamanian and Dutch authorities (who worked on it in collaboration, with their "official" findings stating that the two simply got lost on the trail, before falling off of a wire bridge while attempting to cross it and, ultimately, perishing from their injuries), the many mysterious elements relating to the incident (most notably, a series of photos recovered from the girls' found Canon SX270 HS digital camera), as well as a concentrated online effort to investigate the true cause of their disappearance and subsequent deaths (spearheaded in the years following by YouTuber Juan Perea y Monsuwé and blogger Scarlet R., who have uncovered/archived a vast wealth of information, clues and overlooked inconsistencies on the subject since 2014), have lead many to the conclusion that there was foul play involved.
According to those who were in contact with the girls on April 1st, the day they went missing (recorded via testimonies taken during the initial investigation), Kris and Lisanne are said to have departed their host family's house in Boquete (where they were lodging) at around 11 AM; they were apparently going to go for a walk through the forests around the nearby Baru volcano and to possibly take a look at the Pianista Trail (many sources also allege them to have been accompanied by the host family's dog, who apparently returned home alone that night, leaving the hosts concerned - though this is a point of much contention and many claim that they were not accompanied by said dog, mainly due to him not being visible in any of the photos). They also allegedly wrote in a Facebook post on the day of their disappearance that they intended to tour the village and that they had, earlier that morning, had brunch with two men they met - fellow Dutch nationals whose identities are currently unknown.
When the girls then failed to show up to an appointment with their booked tour guide the morning after, their room was checked and found to be empty (aside from some of their personal belongings), resulting in a missing persons report being filed and a day later, on April 3rd, an aerial search of the area was put in motion by Panamanian authorities, alongside a search effort by the locals on the ground.
Kris and Lisanne's parents arrived in Panama on April 6th, accompanied by Dutch detectives and police (with search dogs in tow), where they began a 10 day full-scale sweep of the area the girls were said to have gone missing in, offering a 30,000 US dollar reward for their recovery.
Two and a half months later, in mid June, a backpack was found on a riverbank in the remote village of Alto Romero (which is reached by continuing along the Pianista trail, past the continental divide) by a local woman. In it, were a handful of the girls' belongings:
- Two pairs of sunglasses
- 83 US dollars
- One of the girls' passports
- Two bras
- A water bottle
- A Canon SX270 HS digital camera
- Both girls' phones (Kris', an iPhone 4 and Lisanne's, a Samsung Galaxy S III)
Everything in the bag was (remarkably, and, rather suspiciously) neatly packed and none of the contents had any sign of water damage. The discovery of the backpack lead to a new search along the riverbank and around the Alto Romero area, which soon lead to another discovery: Kris' jean shorts, located just a few kilometers from where the backpack was found.
Of the images confirmed to have been found on the camera (ie. the ones that have been leaked, albeit in a downscaled resolution from the Canon SX270 HS's native 4000x3000), the first known batch contains a collection of images of Kris and Lisanne in Bocas Del Toro, during the start of their vacation; these Bocas Del Toro photos were reportedly taken between the 16th and the 28th of March.
The second batch of photos show Kris and Lisanne during their stay in Boquete and were (again, reportedly - based on the EXIF data) taken from the 29th March up to the 1st of April, the day they went missing.
The next batch of photos, all shot on April 1st (once again, according to the EXIF data), supposedly show Kris and Lisanne hiking the Pianista trail right up to the lookout point before the continental divide; there is heavy suspicion within the online community surrounding the case that this batch of photos have been doctored in Photoshop or similar and/or have had their respective EXIF paths tampered with, due to things like images where the scale on certain parts of the person in said photos looks off, as well as conflicting EXIF data, with revelations such as the "fact" that two photos were apparently taken within only seconds of each other (when in reality it would have taken the girls longer to move to the next spot, pose and then take the next photo), or that one of the numbered images was apparently taken after the one that succeeded it (ie. according to the EXIF data, image 507 was taken 50 seconds after image 508).
The final batch of photos found on the camera were reportedly shot in the early morning hours of April 8th (still pitch black), almost a full week since the girls had gone missing. Bizarre and incomprehensible, these 90-some images were taken with the flash on over the span of about 3 hours and include a series of shots of water droplets falling through the canopy, a rock with a strange twig on it (with the twig having two pieces of unidentified red material tied to it), as well as an ominous photo of what appears to be Kris' hair, among other things. Strangely, this final batch of images begins with image 510, whereas the last batch ended with 508, meaning that image 509 had been intentionally deleted after the fact.
It's worth nothing that the inherited EXIF data present in many of the leaked, downscaled images also gives an "adjusted MakerNotes" warning, while also showing other irregularities when compared to the EXIF data of a raw Canon SX270 HS photo, possibly indicating further tampering (though this could also just be a result of the photos being resized and resaved in different programs before being leaked). Dutch authorities, however, have confirmed to Juan Perea y Monsuwé that the original uncompressed images in their possession do not contain such EXIF warnings/irregularities; the only other known copies of these uncompressed images are in the hands of a small number of investigative government bodies from around the world, as well as on a CD-R that was given to the families. Interestingly though, the Dutch authorities also confirmed to Juan Perea y Monsuwé that the creation times on the EXIF data of the leaked photos matched theirs - proving that there are still some irregularities in the data of the "untouched" originals in terms of the plausibility of their creation times.
Incidentally, EXIF data on the photos of the girls taken at the airport before their flight indicates that they were taken using a Casio EX-Z550 - likely the camera of one of the girls' parents.
Soon after the discovery of the backpack, it was revealed via internal logs within the recovered phones of Kris and Lisanne that two attempts at calling the Dutch emergency number (112) were made on April 1st, the day they went missing - one from each of their phones, just before 5 PM Panama time. A series of attempts at dialing emergency numbers 112 and 911 (the emergency number in Panama) were also found to have been made from both girls' phones over the next two days, none of which successfully went through.
From the 4th to the 5th of April, the phones were intermittently accessed, presumably by the girls (with Lisanne's running out of battery on April 5th). On April 6th, a series of attempts at accessing Kris' phone were made using an incorrect PIN; the PIN was never correctly entered after this point, but the phone was accessed one final time on April 11th, when it was switched on for roughly an hour, before being switched off indefinitely.
In addition, at least one of the leaked images from the trip contained EXIF data implying that it had been shot on Kris' iPhone and not the Canon SX270 HS.
Human Remains Discovered
Around two months after the discovery of the backpack, human remains were found by Alto Romero locals, also in the same general area where the backpack and shorts were found. They were:
- A pelvic bone
- A boot with a severed foot inside of it
- A number of smaller, scattered bones, including a rib
According to authorities, DNA tests were conducted on these remains and they were confirmed to belong to both Kris and Lisanne respectively, in varying capacities.
From here, the "official" narrative was established by authorities - that the girls got lost on the Pianista trail, tried to cross an unstable wire bridge as a result, fell off, were killed and their possessions and remains ended up being washed down into Alto Romero, where they were found by locals.
The case, as previously mentioned, has unfortunately not been reopened since (with both the authorities and the families supporting the move to keep it closed), despite a plethora of evidence pointing to this "lost" scenario as being highly dubious and containing many contradictions and unexplained occurrences throughout.
Importance of the Original Photos
Though a small amount of the leaked photos were done so in their native resolution, the EXIF data on them has either been scrubbed, or shows signs of tampering; so, officially, none of the photos have leaked in their original uncompressed form (complete with clean EXIF data, as corroborated by Dutch authorities). If the original photos were to be made public, case enthusiasts would have not only access to the original EXIF data to consult and compare (on the slight chance that the authorities missed something), but also much higher resolution versions of the photos, which could potentially lead to a new discovery such as a photographed detail that went previously unnoticed, or perhaps even some definitive, undeniable proof of Photoshopping having taken place, which could end up leading to a thorough re-examination of the case by officials. If/when that happens, however, remains to be seen and the case, as of this writing, remains closed.
- A playlist of all of Juan Perea y Monsuwé's videos on the topic. Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- Travel Channel's 2019 Lost in the Wild episode on Kris and Lisanne. Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- Scarlet R. (of the Koude Kaas blog)'s YouTube channel, containing several videos/interviews on the case. Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- April 2014 NBC News article on the girls' disappearance. Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- 2017 Strange Outdoors "Mysterious Stories" blog post on the incident. Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- 2017 All That's Interesting article on the incident. Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- May 2014 BBC News article on the incident. Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- Koude Kaas blog (ie. Cold Case blog, by Scarlet R.) post on the incident (part 1, which discusses/includes a link to a Dutch news article on the discovery of the backpack). Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- Koude Kaas blog post on the incident (part 2). Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- Koude Kaas blog post on the incident (part 3). Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- Koude Kaas blog post on the incident (part 4). Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- Koude Kaas blog post on the incident (part 5). Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- Juan Perea y Monsuwé's Google Photos case file, containing all of the leaked images thus far. Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- YouTube video in which Juan showcases his EXIF discoveries. Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- YouTube video in which Juan discusses the deleted image 509 (in Dutch with English subtitles). Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- YouTube video in which Juan discusses his interactions with the Dutch authorities regarding the original photos. Retrieved 30 Jul '20
- June 2014 NBC News article on the discovered human remains/positive DNA test. Retrieved 30 Jul '20