It’s easy to forget about death when you’re young. This is only natural, but it also means that many of us end up blind to the overt dangers of the world. We think we’re invincible and it takes a great deal of trauma to dissuade us from that opinion.
Kris Kremers and her friend Lisanne Froon were two young Dutch girls who were just out of college and ready to grab the world by the horns. They, like so many other young people, thought that death was many years away. They had no idea how closely it lurked beside them, waiting for just the right moment to strike…
Lisanne Froon was 22. Those who knew her described her as an aspiring, optimistic, intelligent, passionate young woman. She played volleyball and lived in the same apartment in Amersfoort as her childhood friend, 21-year-old Kris Kremers, a girl who was just as creative, responsible, and open-minded as her friend,
The girls even worked together at the café ‘In den Kleinen Hap’. They had been saving up for six months for their trip to Panama. It was going to be a senior trip of sorts, a gift or reward for Lisanne graduating. They would learn Spanish, volunteer to help with children in the area, and learn from the locals; or so they thought…
The World Awaits
Lisanne Froon had just graduated with a degree in Applied Sciences, Kris Kremers was on the verge of completing her studies in cultural social education. Her specialization was in art education. Both girls believed that their trip to a struggling country like Panama would be the perfect way to start seeing the world and helping people.
In March of 2014, Kris and Lisanne arrived in Panama. Their plan was to stay there for six weeks, two of which would be spent touring the country before they finally arrived in Boquete on March 29. Once there, they would live with a local family for an entire month and help with the children in the village there…
Things were going well. The girls had been thoroughly enjoying their vacation and were happy to help with their host family’s children. Then, on April 1, disaster struck. Lisanne and Kris went out hiking around 11:00 am. They had been warned that the jungles of Panama weren’t entirely safe, so they brought their host’s dog along for safety.
On the Border
Their intention was to walk all the way around Boquete and it was an intention they shared with two young men just beforehand. They traveled the trail of Pianista, which wasn’t far from the Costa Rican border. The clouded forests near the Baru Volcano were dense and unforgiving, and though the girls had been in Panama a while, they were unprepared for what they might inevitably encounter along the way…
Two Young Men
The girls had posted about their plans on Facebook before leaving and had shared the information with two young Dutch men they’d shared brunch with earlier that day. It seems that this fateful brunch marked the last time that anyone would see the girls alive. Later that night, their host’s dog returned home to the village, completely alone.
The host family had come to like Lisanne and Kris, as most anyone who met them invariably did, and they were quite alarmed to find the dog return by itself that night. The next day, the girls’ families stopped receiving their daily text updates as well. When they missed an appointment with a local guide the following morning, things got serious…
The Search Begins
By the very next day, authorities from all over the area began searching for the girls. They started with an aerial search of the forest, while locals, including their host family, went out and searched on foot. Three days of nonstop searching soon commenced, but no one could find any sign of the girls.
On April 6, Kris and Lisanne’s parents flew in from the Netherlands to help in the search. They brought even more help, police officers, detectives, and dog units, but even this full-scale search turned up nothing. After 10 days of searching the forest, everyone was beginning to lose hope that they’d find the girls alive…
Despite offering a $30,000 reward, no new information emerged. That is, until ten weeks later, when a local woman located a raggedy blue backpack in a rice paddy near her village of Alto Romero. She brought the backpack to authorities and informed them that it had not been there the day prior. This meant that someone may have dumped it there on purpose.
A Few Oddments
It was soon determined that the backpack belonged to Lisanne Froon. Inside, it contained two pairs of sunglasses, $83 in cash, her passport, camera, two bras, a water bottle, and both girls’ phones. Everything inside was backed, dry, and in perfect working condition. Perhaps the cellphones could reveal something of what happened…
Phone records indicated that after only a few hours into their hike, one of the girls had both attempted to dial emergency numbers. The first one had dialed 911, the emergency number in Panama and the other had allegedly tried 112, the international emergency number. Neither of the calls had gone through.
There was no signal in the area and therefore no way for the girls to reach anyone at either emergency number. It appeared that they had used the phones until April 5, three days after their hike began, but the battery on Lisanne’s phone died soon after. As for Kris’ iPhone, they tried to turn it off intermittently to save battery, but never got reception again…
It seems that after April 6, several attempts had been made to enter a false PIN code into the iPhone, to no avail. A whopping 77 unsuccessful emergency call attempts were made after that, but none of them connected. On April 11, at 11:56 pm, Kris’ iPhone finally turned off for good. But what had happened to the girls?
Flashes of Light
The investigation into the phones also revealed that numerous photographs had been taken between 1:00 and 4:00 am on the night they vanished. These occurred at a rate of one photo every two minutes, which told police that the girls were very likely using the camera’s flash as a means to see while they wandered aimlessly through the pitch black forest…
Besides the backpack, authorities eventually discovered unusual bone fragments in the forest that appeared to be of human origin. Sadly, DNA testing eventually confirmed that any or all of these bone fragments could have belonged to either Lisanne Froon or Kris Kremers. Even if this proved that they were dead, however, it didn’t indicate how they had died.
Some believe that the girls just got lost and wound up being attacked by wild animals. Yet, considering the circumstances surrounding the type of death that might result in someone’s bones being fragmented, it could just as easily mean that the girls’ deaths may have been caused by some type of foul play…
In 2017, new evidence was uncovered that might link their deaths to other murders in the area. Nevertheless, most of the locals think that the girls just slipped on one of the many steep cliffs in the area and were so seriously injured that they died right where they fell. Neither is impossible, but neither is easy to prove either.
Thus far, there has been no clear determination into the cause of death for either Lisanne Froon or Kris Kremers. Dutch authorities are still working with investigators in Panama to determine the truth, but no matter what it ultimately was, it just goes to prove that death can come to anyone, especially those who are heedless of its presence.