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June 10, 2021

Ep. 39: The Disappearance of Lisanne Froon & Kris Kremers

While hiking the Pianista trail near Boquete, Panama in April 2014, Dutch tourists Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers vanished, seemingly without a trace. Searches by local and Dutch authorities turned up nothing, and hope began to fade that the girls...

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While hiking the Pianista trail near Boquete, Panama in April 2014, Dutch tourists Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers vanished, seemingly without a trace. Searches by local and Dutch authorities turned up nothing, and hope began to fade that the girls would ever be found. Until June, when Lisanne's backpack was uncovered, containing a working camera, the girls' cell phones...and a lot of questions. 
After this, some remains of Froon and Kremers were sadly discovered along the Culebra river, but to some, the remains didn't answer the mystery of what exactly happened to Lisanne and Kris.

How did the girls get lost on a seemingly well-marked, well-traveled trail? Why did a local guide tell authorities that he was scheduled to take the girls on the Pianista trail April 2nd...the day after they walked it themselves? Did something tragic happen to Lisanne, Kris, or both, prompting a series of emergency calls from their phones that never connected to cell reception? What is up with the eerie nighttime photos found on Lisanne's camera? Did the girls succumb to an accident, the elements...or foul play?

We try to cover all the theories, and put forth some of our own. Hopefully you'll find we've tackled this case respectfully--our thoughts are with the Froon and Kremers families.
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This week we’re diving back into the area of true crime - or maybe not - and discussing the disappearance of Dutch tourists Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers during a hike in a Panama rainforest. It’s a sad story, and one that still has a lot of mystery, but hopefully it will work as a warning to our listeners to be incredibly careful in the great outdoors, and especially in unfamiliar territory. For this episode I will be relying heavily on an incredibly in-depth series of articles by Jeremy Kryt in the Daily Beast, collected under the title “The Lost Girls of Panama: The Full Story”. Thanks Jeremy!

Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers were only 22 and 21, respectively, when they disappeared in April 2014. Kris and Lisanne had met while working part time at the same cafe, In den Kleinen Hap, in the city of Amersfoort in the Netherlands, and became close friends. Both were attending university, both were outstanding students, and eventually they decided to share an apartment together. Lisanne was outgoing, an amateur actress, and wanted to study art history in graduate school after some traveling. Kris was athletic, majored in psychology, and loved photography. On a break from school, they decided to enjoy some travel time, but even this vacation would be in the spirit of doing good for others and enriching themselves - they decided to journey to Boquete, Panama, as volunteer social workers, teaching English to the local children and learning fluent Spanish themselves. Frustratingly, someone had miscalculated, and I’m not sure if it was the girls or the volunteer organization they were working with...but either way, they arrived in Panama a week early, and Kris noted in her diary that the assistant instructor had been “very rude and not at all friendly”, and the program clearly wasn’t ready for their arrival. The morning of the girls’ disappearance, Kris wrote “There was not yet a place or work for us so we could not start...The school thought it odd as it was all planned since months ago. Tomorrow they will try and get ahold of the head teacher...this was a real disappointment. Anyway, go with the Panamanian flow.” Unfortunately, this would be the last line of Kris’ diary, and their mix-up never would be rectified. 

Witnesses later said they saw Kris and Lisanne leave the trailhead just north of Boquete at about 10 AM that morning, Tuesday April 1st. The girls had dressed only in light clothing with just one backpack between them, so it seemed they clearly weren’t intending for this to be a very long hike. There are reports that a dog named Blue accompanied them some ways up the trail, and this dog may also have been the pet of the family that was hosting the girls in their home. It may have also been owned by the owners of the local Il Pianista restaurant, which is the conclusion by a large percentage of web sleuths. Blue apparently accompanied many tourists on their hike up the trail, evidence of which is found at a blog called “Chris and Dan’s Panamanian Adventure” where they document Blue tagging along during their Pianista hike on February 17, 2014 - just a month and half before Kris and Lisanne’s disappearance.

The trail the girls took is called the Pianista, or Piano Player. This is because it climbs, much like in the appearance of piano-keys, ladder-like up from Boquete to the Continental Divide 6,660 feet above. The Continental Divide marks where on the western side the rivers flow downhill into the Pacific Ocean, while those on the eastern side flow to the Caribbean Sea. The Boquete region itself is known as “Little Switzerland” due to its stunning scenery including meadows, lakes, and forests. Tourism booms in Boquete, with ex-pats flocking for retirement and outdoor adventurers taking advantage of safaris, rafting, and rock climbing, along with - of course - hiking. It also helps that Panama has a reputation as an offshore tax haven, but even despite this, Panama and Boquete itself are some of the safest areas in Latin America. There had been a previous tourist disappearance - that of a British backpacker named Alex Humphrey in 2009 - but no link has been identified between Humprey’s disappearance and that of Lisanne and Kris. 

One of the most chilling aspects of this case is that, because of later discoveries, the girls’ camera has been found documenting their hike. It seems they made fairly good time up to the top of the Pianista, reaching there about 1pm from the time stamps on Lisanne’s camera, and did so alone. Aside from perhaps Blue the dog, there’s no indication that anyone else was along for the hike. At least, not that they knew of, or saw.

The Daily Beast notes that geographical features in the final few photos in the digital camera indicated by mid afternoon on April 1st, the pair had left the Pianista and, likely accidentally, crossed over to the other side of the Continental Divide. These photos seem to indicate that they had wandered onto a network of trails not maintained by any official associated with Baru National Park, where the Pianista is located. These sorts of trails aren’t meant for tourists and aren’t traveled even by guides, but are used almost exclusively by the indigenous peoples living within the rainforest, including the Ngobe tribe. 

And that was all. Until 9 weeks later, when the backpack containing the camera was allegedly discovered, no trace of Lisanne and Kris was seen again, the photos remaining as an eerie trail of crumbs to try and assemble into an answer to the big question: where was Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers? 

This isn’t the only question in this case. In fact, there are exponentially more questions than answers here. But let’s start at the beginning. 

The girls were only supposed to be in Panama for a month, but this might have been extended to 5 weeks due to the arrival mix-up. Whatever the case, they had time on their hands before the beginning of their volunteer work, so it seems they made the logical choice to do some sightseeing. Kris and Lisanne were seen in the company of 2 Dutch men during the first couple weeks of their stay, and I’m unclear whether it was these 2 or another similarly Dutch pair witnesses said were having lunch with them the day of their disappearance. But, apparently, the girls had lunch with 2 Dutch men on April 1st. I’m also unsure if this was before the hike or alongside the trail - other reports state they were on the trail around 10am, so earlier than that seems pretty early for lunch. Maybe it was breakfast. Who knows. Pictures also documented their shared time with the Dutch fellows before the doomed hike. 

Witnesses say that a certain tour guide, a local Panamanian rancher, met with Kris and Lisanne less than a day before they disappeared on the campus of Spanish by the River, the language school where the girls were set to work during their stay in Boquete. At that meeting the rancher offered them a full package tour including a guided hike up the Pianista and an overnight stop at his ranch deep in the jungle, on the far side of the mountains. Apparently, the girls declined this offer, but elsewhere I’ve found that this guide, who I believe is named Feliciano Gonzalez, has stated that he had a guided tour planned with the girls on April 2. So I’m honestly not sure which is true. If they really did have a hike set with Gonzalez on the 2nd, why would they make a similar hike the day before? A Dutch masseuse named Sigrid, who saw the girls on March 31st, stated they chatted enthusiastically about undertaking the trail the next day - so it wasn’t a total spur of the moment decision. I’m not sure of Gonzalez was just mistaken, or maybe the girls tried to shut him down by intending to ghost him for the April 2nd hike and just not show up? Either way, that’s a real discrepancy in this case. Some material the girls had apparently browsed before deciding to take the hike calls the Pianista trail “a pleasant day hike” and “steady, leisurely” before you reach a steeper path. Also, “The path winds deep into the forest, though you can turn back at any time.” Seems pretty innocuous, and I doubt they would’ve thought they were in any danger whatsoever.

A French hiker quoted on the exhaustive evidence collection website kremersfroon.pbworks.com stated that, when they recreated the path in 2019, “The path continuing beyond the Mirador takes the form of a single and narrow path. There, it is impossible to get lost by continuing in the same direction for at least an hour and a half. In this setup, it is ALSO very difficult to escape someone and be able to flee in the direction of Boquete if someone is coming from there.” Another quote is from a Westerner who lives in the Boquete area, and states basically that the path becomes exponentially harder to follow past the initial cow fields. Perhaps this could be a point where some may get lost. 

The photos on the camera are known by number names, and photo 505 taken at 1:20 pm is of Lisanne in a location about 20 minutes post-summit down the other side. They appear to still be on the correct trail. Then, at 1:39pm - and it’s really remarkable that your phone can show this, even in 2014 - the iPhone network connection was lost. After this point, reception is fairly nonexistent in the area, and the iPhone never reconnects again.

Photo 507 and 508 including Lisanne were taken at 1:54 pm, about an hour down on the other side from the summit, heading away from Boquete. This is the last photo that was taken during the day. The sleuths at the pbworks page and on the r/KremersFroon subreddit are pretty amazing, and they’ve found that 20 minutes in the same anti-Boquete direction after photo 508 would’ve led the girls to a second stream, and 15 minutes after that is a cow paddock area. However, after 508 no locations were recorded in the same way as previously - like as a nice landscape, a good picture - and it seems likely that it was soon after photo 508 was taken that the girls either walked off the path and into the jungle, arrived at the cow paddock and got lost down the cow tracks that lead to the field, came off the path after the cow paddock and THERE went into the jungle...or there was 3rd party involvement affecting their actions. The jungle area would be incredibly hard to navigate without professional guidance or equipment, of which the girls had neither. 

Then, we have the beginning of the call logs. During these initial calls, the correct PINs were entered into the phones, meaning like any other cell phone, it was probably the owner accessing it. At 4:39pm on April 1st - this is a bit over 2 and a half hours since the 507 and 508 photos - a call was made to 112 from Kris’ iPhone. 112 is a common emergency phone number, used in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, even if they did have reception, it seems that the Panamanian emergency number is 911. I’m not sure if calls to 112 in 2014 would’ve automatically redirected to 911. A call was then made from Lisanne’s Samsung soon after, at 4:51 pm, also to 112. Neither of these calls connected due to no service in the area.

Some sources say that the owners of the Il Pianista restaurant became alarmed when their dog Blue returned home that night alone, as they had known he’d left with the Dutch girls. Yes, folks, the dog makes it out of this just fine, so take that happy bit of news and hold it tight, because there’s not much else in this story. Lisanne’s parents stopped receiving text messages around that time, and both women had been texting their parents daily with updates on their trip. Then on the morning of April 2nd, another call was made at 6:58 am to 112 from Lisanne’s phone. The call didn’t connect. At 8am, the girls apparently missed their appointment with the guide, Feliciano.

Again, this is one of the wonkiest parts of this story. Is he covering up something by saying this, and they never accepted his offer? Did they make an appointment with him intending to ghost and go themselves on April 1st? I’m not sure, and neither is anyone else. But that’s when Feliciano Gonzalez says he knew something was up, and around 9 he somehow obtained the key to the girls’ room to see if they spent the night there. Maybe he was genuinely concerned, maybe he knew the host family and wanted to check in. There are many possibilities and I don’t want to put too much suspicion on this guy if he was really just trying to help. It seems he confirmed that they weren’t around.

10:53 am, a call to 112 and 911 from the Samsung, no connection. At 1:56 pm, a call made from the same phone to 112 and 911 DID have a short connection to the network, but disconnected after a second or two. This is the only time any of the calls or the phone itself made any connection. At 4:13 pm, a 6M earthquake occurred in the region. At 6:14 pm, the iPhone made a call to 112 that didn’t connect, and a screenshot was taken. 7:30 pm Feliciano Gonzales and Eileen, a staff member from Spanish by the River school, visited the local police station to inform police of the girls’ disappearance. Apparently, the two returned again to the police station at 9:30 pm, perhaps after making some additional checks, to officially declare Kris and Lisanne as missing persons. This is when the search, of course, really kicks into high gear, and some of the issues with the effort come into play.
Local and international media portrayed the official search efforts by SINAPROC, or Panama’s National Service for Civil Protection, as prompt and efficient. But there are many who disagree, including - and you can take this with a grain of salt - Feliciano Gonzalez himself. Gonzalez told Jeremy Kryt at the Daily Beast, “Those girls could’ve been saved if the SINAPROC people knew how to do their jobs.” Others agree with this view. Guide John Tornblom, who has 10 years of experience in the Boquete area, said “We were out looking for the girls three or four days before SINAPROC even got involved. The first 24 hours are key for a search and rescue operation,” but Tornblom continued that authorities hesitated to start a full scale search because they thought the girls might be out on a party somewhere instead of really missing. Then, when the government DID finally get involved, experienced guides and searchers like himself were ordered to stand down while SINAPROC conducted its own search. “We’re the ones who know the area, but they cut us out. That rescue operation was a total clusterfuck” he told the Daily Beast, alleging that SINAPROC was bogged down by bureaucracy, which negatively affected this case. 

Security Director of SINAPROC Lecia Espinoza did admit to Kryt that the first phase of the search suffered because no one knew where to look for Lisanne and Kris, especially since any trace of them - including the tell-tale backpack with digital camera - hadn’t been found yet. SINAPROC to this point had no clue what trail the girls could’ve taken, as they didn’t tell anyone expressly where they were going...or, of course, hadn’t planned on going down the other side of the Continental Divide and getting lost. It was just about impossible to narrow the search down to a tight grid, which is usually the best way to find a missing person in an area like a forest. 

Meanwhile, the girls still seemed to be desperately trying to contact civilization despite their total lack of cell phone reception. As the search began on April 3rd, the iPhone made a call to 911 at 9:33 am, no connection. The Samsung was turned on at 1:50pm though no emergency call was attempted. The same again at 4pm with the iPhone, and 4:19 pm again with the Samsung. At this point, Feliciano himself stated he tried to search the trail after the summit himself, but found no trace of the girls and not even any footprints on the ground. On April 4th, when Lisanne’s brother, uncle, and a friend arrived in Boquete to help with the search that was starting to encompass the Lost Waterfalls area and the Quetzal Trail, the iPhone was turned on twice - at 10:16 am and 1:42 am - with no emergency call attempted. It seems at this point they were losing hope about connecting and were merely turning on the phone to see if any reception had been found. The Samsung wasn’t turned on at all at this point, and it’s likely that its battery had faded more than the iPhone had. On April 5th, the Samsung was turned on at 4:50 am with no emergency call attempt, then again at 5:56 am. This time, the battery was exhausted, and the phone never turned on again. At 10:50 am, the iPhone was turned on with no emergency call attempt. AFTER THIS, it is important to note, whenever the iPhone was turned on no PIN or a wrong PIN was entered to try to unlock it. This likely means that it was Lisanne trying to access Kris’s phone, and for whatever reason Kris was unable to type in the PIN herself. As the search continued, the iPhone was turned on again at 1:37 pm April 5th, 10:26 am and 1:37 pm April 6th, not at all or it’s unclear if it was April 7-10th...and then for two final times at 10:51 am and 11:56 am April 11th. These were all with wrong or no PINs entered, and sadly at 11:56 am April 11th, the iPhone was powered off for the last time. 

SINAPROC conducted a 10 day search, utilizing helicopters, dogs, and ground teams. They showed pictures of the girls to local indigenous peoples in hopes that someone had seen them. No leads at all turned up, and after this time they decided to curtail efforts. A Dutch team even came in with their own trained dogs at the end of May, but heavy rains affected the search, and nothing was found at this point, either. Hope was slowly fading away. 

In mid-June 2014, a Ngobe woman from a village named Alto Romero walked into the Boquete police station holding Lisanne Froon’s backpack. This woman claimed that she found the backpack while tending to her rice paddy about 5 miles from where the victims were last seen, on the powerful river called the Culebra, or Serpent. She told officers that the pack was wedged into a mess of junk on the shore of the riverbank, and that she was certain it hadn’t been stuck there the day before. At this point, the contents of the backpack were discovered and studied. They included:

-$83 US dollars
-Two pairs of sunglasses
-Lisanne’s passport
-Lisanne’s camera
-A water bottle
-2 bras (possibly two bikini tops, this is unclear)

According to a statement from the Prosecutor, the backpack showed signs of dragging and had residue of sand and leaves throughout, though the electronics inside were relatively undamaged. Dutch Forensic Institute experts found more than 30 unidentified fingerprints on the contents of Lisanne’s backpack.

Once this discovery was made pinpointing the backpack, at least, to the Culebra river, a whole new search set out. Intense searching was undertaken along the river, which Jeremy Kryt says was captained by the same guide that the girls were supposed to - or maybe not - meet the day after their disappearance. 

Sadly, between mid June and late August, 33 skeletal fragments had been discovered and linked to Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers via DNA testing. Most of these bones were from Lisanne’s left foot, still in its boot and sock, found behind a tree near the river. Other bone fragments, including a bone and skin fragment from Lisanne, were discovered a 14 hour hike north from where the girls were last definitively known to be, due to their photo #508. It may seem like only Lisanne’s remains are being found at this point, but unfortunately, some of Kris’ remains were also discovered. Her pelvis bone and a rib bone were found, though it’s not clear to me where aside from in the jungle. There were a couple of interesting things about these bones: they contained traces of phosphorus, they didn’t show any marks or abrasions, and the pelvis bone had been almost broken in half. Let’s address these things, thanks to the great work of the kremersfroon.pbworks.com page:

Traces of phosphorus could possibly have been sourced from lyme. Soil samples taken where the bones were found showed that this was not naturally occurring in the soil - phosphorus is used by farmers as fertilizer in the region but doesn’t occur naturally in the jungle area where the bones were discovered. Some Panamanian investigators thought that the phosphates could have come from the stomach acid of a large animal or animals, who swallowed the bones and then expelled them again. 

So 2, no marks or abrasions. This means no obvious signs of trauma by sharp objects, projectiles, or firearms - no stabbing, no shooting, etc. There were also no marks on the remains that would indicate they had spent a long while in the river systems and didn’t look as though they had been dragged down the river system a long distance, which may indicate the remains weren’t in the area for very long before they were discovered.

Last, the pelvis bone. Now if you’ve seen a pelvis, they’re incredibly thick bones. A LOT of force would be needed to fracture and almost break a pelvis bone in half in such a manner, especially because it’s fairly well-protected by surrounding body areas like the groin, backside, thighs, etc. Some feel this breakage looks similar to injuries seen in a serious car accident or fall from a great height.

It seems like Kris’ fragmental remains had incurred some bleaching, while Lisanne’s had not. And, I believe, the only skin fragments that were found were Lisanne’s. Lisanne’s foot metatarsals - the bones on top of the foot - were broken. The heel, ankle, and all other bones below were intact and unbroken. These were all discovered inside of her hiking boot. The forensic examiner came to the conclusion that there’s only a 50% chance this kind of break was caused by a fall from a great height, with a 50% chance it was caused by a different kind of injury like a rock fall or some sort of solid object coming down from above and breaking the metatarsals. It seems they felt that these breaks were caused while Lisanne was likely alive, due to the heel and other bones not being broken. None of Lisanne’s bones had abrasions on them either, like Kris’, and they didn’t suffer any of the normal wear and tear that one would expect if they’d been washed down the river, which seems to indicate these bones hadn’t been in the area very long when they were discovered. And, lastly - and this is pretty gross, so warning there - a rolled up piece of Lisanne’s skin, coming from her shin bone, was found with maggots still present in August. This indicates the skin was still in the early stages of decomposition, despite it being almost 4 months since Lisanne went missing. The pathologist also felt that, due to the way the skin had been manipulated, the body had likely been in a constricted space, which would’ve changed the shape of the skin to what it ended up being. 

Forensic specialists concluded, due to the newly-discovered evidence, that the girls slipped and fell from a cliff. Forensic pathologist and head of the Dutch research team, Frank van der Goot, stated "Having taken the geographical and social conditions into account with the technical facts that emerged from the forensic investigation, a crime in the form of robbery, rape, violent crime or kidnapping is very unlikely." However, unlike the Dutch conclusion, the Panamanian report felt that the girls fell from the first monkey bridge along the path. At some point in both of these scenarios, the bodies may have been carried by the strong currents in the rivers at the bottom of these areas, making further remains difficult to find.

But this doesn’t tie this case up in a neat bow. Not at all. 

If they fell, why weren’t more of their remains found? The remains themselves both seem to indicate that they weren’t carried, broken, and battered as they were swept down river, so that point seems incorrect. The first emergency call occurred only hours after their summit of the Pianista - how did they get lost? It seems there is only one clear path on each side of the summit. Did something happen? 

So, I said that on April 11th, Kris’ iPhone - which was likely being accessed by Lisanne, as she didn’t have the correct PIN - was powered off for the final time. But that is not the last bit of evidence the girls left before their remains were found in June.

First of all, there’s even a minor mystery here, too. Though the photos eventually went up to #600, #509 - aka the one right after the “normal” pictures of the girls’ Pianista climb - is missing. No trace of 509 was recovered from the camera. If it were manually deleted from the camera, there would’ve been a record of this in the data processor. When Netherlands Forensic Institute experts examined the camera, they reached the conclusion that either 509 was deleted via computer, or there was a technical malfunction that occurred on the camera itself which corrupted the file. If deletion did occur, it happened after the rest of the photos were taken, because after 509 they keep going up in the same order - 510, 511, etc. If Kris or Lisanne had deleted it when taken, then there would’ve been a new 509. Make sense?

So, the other pictures. These are pretty unsettling and have spurred a LOT of controversy and conjecture. After 508, the camera was unused for 7 days, until 1 am on April 8th. Two nighttime photographs were taken, with one looking down from the top of a rock into bushes, and a second of a top of a rock with two sticks entwined with red plastic bag and two chewing gum wrappers. Then, during the next 3 hours, 88 more pictures were taken and all but one - which has been held by request of the families - described as black or dark, which wouldn’t have been caused by a lens cap since it had an automatic shutter. Criminalist Dick Steffans, who examined the photos on behalf of the families, stated “One explanation for the dark pictures could be that women have been locked up and using the flash on the camera tried to attract attention.” There weren’t any pictures of paths or specifically of either of the girls, and because of this some speculate that the girls were merely using the camera flash as an improvised flashlight to guide their way in the dark jungle. 

Some photos that have been released have interesting aspects. #51 appears to be just the edge of someone’s face or arm with a bit of hair poking out from the corner of the frame. A lot are of dense greenery and some flowing water. There are a lot of lit up orbs in many of these, so it seems the flash was capturing some sort of rainfall. The one that gained the most attention was of what appears to be the back of Kris’ head - all we see is her blonde hair. No blood or anything like that. In fact, the hair looks pretty clean and dry, which some think of as strange for someone who’s been in the jungle for a week. After this, there is a bunch more of blackness and greenery and orbs, and #609 was the last photo taken, that morning at 4:10 am. 

Frank Van de Goot noted, “You can’t really exclude a crime, but I remain [of the opinion] it was an accident scenario. You can scream and shout what you will, the jungle absorbs everything. There is a constant off-land wind, dogs can't smell you and there is no phone reception. If they had been kidnapped, we've heard nothing to confirm that. Normally people get in touch and ask for money. I can't completely exclude a crime, but I have nothing to prove that. With an accident, there are a few possibilities, but I can't prove it.”

This isn’t satisfying to many - even locals. Tornblom, the experienced Boquete guide, told the Daily Beast “If it was really an accident why couldn’t they find more remains? Where are all the big bones? Where are the skulls? There are no animals up there that would eat a skull.” While journalist Jeremy Kryt made sure to state that no hard evidence against the rancher and guide Feliciano Gonzales has been uncovered, he remains under suspicion by Tornblom and others in the local guiding community. 
“Some of our female clients have complained of him harassing them,” noting that apparently he had a habit of bathing in the hot springs with female tourists, something that was against code. Tornblom continued, 
“He ought to at least be interrogated the right way. If this happened in the States or in Europe the investigation would’ve been taken to a whole different level.” Later he stated, “He’s the last guy to see them alive—and then he’s the one who finds their bones. Something about that just feels wrong to me.” While I don’t think he was the documented last to see the girls alive, since they had witnesses on the Pianista trail, it certainly paints a picture.

The Daily Beast sought out several experts to review the case and the evidence, including Carl Weil, a Master Fellow in Wilderness Medicine with decades of search and rescue and forensics experience. Weil concluded that “the initial event that prevented the women from returning to Boquete along the Pianista trail was almost certainly not criminal. I don’t see any evidence of foul play. They’re continuing to take pictures and use their phones. I’d say that makes it look like some kind of accident, at least initially.” After a week of constant hunger and exposure to the elements suffered by one or both of the girls, they would be “psychologically and physically impaired, experiencing a loss of quickness, strength, and agility.” However, the Dutch team concluded that Kris and Lisanne could not have lost their way on the trail. So what happened??

I have a very shaky theory. But what do you think, Sean?


So, I think sometime around when the first emergency call was made a few hours after the Pianista summit, one of the girls was injured, in an accident. I have a feeling this was Kris. Perhaps she had a horrible fall, and maybe this is where the pelvic bone was broken. Lisanne would either have not wanted to leave her to go get help, or didn’t know the way back and was afraid of losing her way or finding Kris again. Both of the girls were at least alive until April 5th. This is when Lisanne’s Samsung battery died, and the first occurrence of the wrong PIN being entered into Kris’ iPhone, suggesting she wasn’t able to do it herself, for one reason or another. Maybe at this point Kris was unconscious, or had passed away, and Lisanne was desperately trying to access her phone. I’m unsure if iPhones had the emergency call capability without unlocking in 2014, but they do now - however, as a Samsung user, maybe Lisanne didn’t know that. And that probably would’ve been futile anyway, as there was no cell reception. The night photos were taken on April 8th, and I’m unsure if both girls were alive at this point - but someone was. Horribly, even though there’s a picture of the back of Kris’ head, there’s no indication whether Kris was alive at this time or not, though some felt that they saw blood in her hair. My theory is that at the very Least, Lisanne did survive past this point, to at least the last time the iPhone was powered on on April 11, but either succumbed to the elements or an injury - like that to her foot - which led her to pass away from some combination of exposure, illness, sickness, etc. The fact that Lisanne’s remains had decomposed less seems to give credence to this. Kathy Reichs, forensic anthropoligist and creator of the TV show Bones, also feels it was an accident. The bleaching of Kris’ rib bone and inconsistent rate of decay isn’t an issue for Reichs, as the rainforest is a place of “many micro environments” meaning that preservation or decomposition of body parts can occur at different rates. Kris’ shorts were found, apparently zipped up and neatly folded, on a rock high above the Culebra water line, an area east of where it appears the night photos were taken. If this is the case, it means Lisanne likely made it across the first river crossing depicted in the photos, perhaps leaving Kris’ shorts as a marker. Because her remains seemed to be intermingled with Kris’, Lisanne likely died in this area or very closeby. She may have fallen from one of the rope “monkey bridges” that cross the rivers, or the cable crossing near the shorts marker that could’ve broken her foot and made it impossible for her to proceed down the trail. Carl Weil, the survival expert concluded this: “You could say they both did an amazing job against impossible odds,” describing Lisanne’s actions in her last days and perhaps hours as “impressively brave” under “truly terrible circumstances. Based on the evidence, it seems she didn’t just sit down and shrivel up and wait to starve.” And perhaps this is how we should end this terrible story - with heroism, despite the odds, and a memory that will live on in Panama - and beyond - forever.



Let’s enjoy a little Weird Science!

A South African woman by the name of Gosiame Thamara Sithole, of Tembisa Township, Ekurhuleni, has given birth to decuplets - that’s 10 kids in one go - at a Pretoria hospital, UPI reports.

Sithole’s husband, Teboho Tsotetsi, stated doctors originally thought she was pregnent with sextuplets - 6 children - but later discovered the scan had missed two. So they were expecting 8, but when doctors performed a Caesarian days ago, they found seven boys and three girls, for a total of 10 babies. Sithole was seven months and seven days pregnant, with premature birth being common for twins and any variation on twins, and the couple told reporters that she became pregnant without any fertility treatments. As you might know, it’s fairly common for in vitro fertilization and other treatments to produce multiples.

At this point, the babies are all okay, spending a few weeks in an incubator until they’re strong enough to go home. Sithole is now believed to be the world record holder for most babies delivered in a pregnancy, with the previous record of 9 being held by Halima Cisse of Morrocco just last month. Before that, the famous Octo-Mom gave birth to 8 in 2009.

Congrats to the family, and best of luck!



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