Major update in ‘Panama pals’ mystery after Dutch girls vanished in jungle 9 years ago leaving haunting photo clues

A DAM is set to be searched in the hope of finally solving the mystery deaths of two girls in the Panama jungle – nearly 10 years after they vanished.

Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22, went for a hike around the scenic Baru volcano in Boquete in 2014 – and never returned.

One of the last photos of Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22, who vanished while hiking in 2014

The contents of their backpack found near a river and handed in by a local woman

Marja West and Jürgen SnoerenRescuers found bones scattered along the river bed – but have never uncovered the cause of the girls’ deaths[/caption]

Marja West and Jürgen SnoerenThe dam where Marja West and Jürgen Snoeren plan to search for more of the girls’ remains[/caption]

The students from the Netherlands spent six months planning their trip to Panama, spending some time backpacking, volunteering and learning Spanish.

The pair had been staying with a host family in Boquete to volunteer at a local school when they waved goodbye to walk the El Pianista Trail on April 1, 2014.

They were never seen alive again – and two months later, a pelvic bone and a foot, still inside a walking boot, were found near where their backpack and clothes were discovered.

To this day, the disappearance and tragic deaths of Kris and Lisanne remains a harrowing mystery.

Many mind-blowing theories have emerged – including one claim that Kris could still be alive after she was trafficked into the sex trade by a kidnapper roaming in the jungle.

And after taking a deep dive into all the evidence and flying out to do their own probe, Dutch authors Marja West and Jürgen Snoeren believe the girls died after an accident.

In their book Lost in The Jungle, they comb through the mystery case – aiming to debunk wild conspiracy theories surrounding the deaths.

But the pair admitted there were still “a lot of unknowns”.

And they are now set to return to Boquete in the hope of finding the rest of the girls’ bodies and finding out what really happened.

“We don’t know if anybody was involved – we cannot exclude that,” Jürgen told The Sun.

“We believe the most likely explanation is that they had an accident – but it’s not 100 per cent.

“If somebody was involved, or anybody has seen something and for some reason hasn’t come forward yet, there is a possibility the case will be cracked.

“There haven’t been any new developments for years, but hopefully there will be by going there ourselves.”

Marja added: “The only way to make a full conclusion is when we find the rest of the bodies. I think there should still be remains there in the jungle from the girls.

“But it’s a hell of a job. It’s a pretty hard search.”

As they plot their return to Panama with a pathologist, a rescue team and documentary producers to solve the case, Marja and Jürgen have come up with a potential new search area.

“Nobody has ever looked for the rest of their remains – it’s as simple as that,” Marja said.

“The last time anyone went there from the Netherlands was January, 2015.

“You can’t just walk there, there’s flash floods, the water will rise and fall in a matter of minutes.

“There a house-sized boulders near the river – you can’t even climb them. There’s a lot of volcanoes in the area, so it’s very steep. Once you’re down at the river, there’s no way you can get back.

“But at the end of the river, there’s a dam. There’s a filter that stops all the boulders and branches – if the bones were taken by the river, you might find them at the dam.

“I think that’s our best chance.”


One of the final photos of Kris and Lisanne show the girls smiling with wide-open arms and thumbs up as they reached the top of the El Pianista Trail.

But instead of turning back, Marja and Jürgen believe the girls carried on walking into the jungle along the Changuinola River – dubbed “the grinder” for its dangerous flash floods.

It’s a treacherous route that even many locals avoid – and hikers must cross several rickety rope bridges over the water.

Almost three hours after the last photo was taken of Kris crossing a narrow stream over large boulders, the girls made two calls to the Dutch emergency number.

Marja and Jürgen believe something must have happened on the hike – such as an accident – that made Kris and Lisanne want to call Dutch emergency services.

As it was getting dark, it’s likely the girls decided to hunker down for the night – with the aim of setting off again in the morning.

But after waking up, it’s thought they carried on walking in the wrong direction along the steep river bed – and found themselves deeper in the jungle with no way out.

The alarm was raised about their disappearance after they failed to show up for a tour of a coffee farm in Boquete on April 2.

A desperate search for the students was launched, with rescue workers combing through the jungle and nearby villages.

But by April 6, the girls were still missing.

Kris and Lisanne’s families decided to fly out to Panama and bring Dutch detectives with them.

The jungle was searched for another ten days with the help of the cops from the Netherlands – but there was no sign of the girls.

It later emerged the girls made 77 separate call attempts to the cops – and only one managed to connect, but broke up after two seconds due to the lack of reception.

A foot was found still inside a boot two months after the girls vanishedTVN2

One of the last photos taken by the girls

Marja West and Jürgen SnoerenThe area where the two Dutch girls vanished[/caption]

Marja West and Jürgen SnoerenRescuers faced extreme conditions in the jungle as they searched for the two Dutch girls[/caption]

Marja West and Jürgen SnoerenA memorial for Kris and Lisanne in the jungle where they vanished[/caption]

But as the search was starting to wind up, a local woman handed in a blue backpack, claiming she found it in a rice paddy along the banks of the river.

It was found in the middle of the jungle – a 14-hour trek from the top of the El Pianista Trail where the final photo of Kris and Lisanne was taken.

The backpack contained two pairs of sunglasses, $83 in cash, two bras, a water bottle – and importantly, Lisanne’s passport.

It also contained Lisanne’s camera and both of their phones.

In a chilling discovery, 90 photos had been snapped on the camera deep in the jungle in the dead of night on April 8 between 1am and 4am – raising questions about who took the pictures.

Only a handful of the pictures retrieved from the memory card showed clear images – with most showing near-complete darkness. 

The photos showed the girls belongings spread out on rocks, along with plastic bags and candy wrappers, mounds of dirt, and a mirror.

And one of the images chillingly showed the back of Kris’ head with what some sleuths believe is blood leaking from her temple.

According to one web sleuth, the snaps taken on the camera a week after the girls vanished might have been taken with the flash to light up the path as they stumbled through the dark jungle.

But others have suggested the chilling photos might have been taken by someone else after killing the girls.

The identity of the person who took the images remains a mystery.

Marja believes Kris died on the night that the photos were taken and Lisanne was desperately trying to create some light in the darkness of the jungle to help her.

It would explain why she took snaps of random objects as she would have been avoiding pointing the flash at Kris’ face.

Or, Marja said, they might have heard someone or something nearby and were trying to use the flash to attract their attention.

Marja said: “I think it’s the most plausible reason for the pictures.”

Marja believes Kris died from injuries sustained in an accident – and Lisanne tried to set off on her own to get back to civilisation, but also later died.


The discovery of the backpack led to a new search along the Culubre River – where Kris’ denim shorts were found.

Two months later, a pelvis and a boot with a foot inside were found close to where the backpack was discovered.

Eventually, at least 33 bones were found scattered along the same river bank – with evidence of injury.

“We are pretty convinced they got lost and tried to follow the river bed,” Jürgen explained.

“It’s very hard to say judging by the injuries they had what exactly happened.

“Kris’ pelvis was broken when it was found, but we can’t tell if it was post or pre death.

“We also know Lisanne had inflammation of the bone in her legs. Lisanne could have broken her toes descending in the river bed or stumbling on a rock.

“We just can’t say for certain what sequence they got the injuries.”

But he added: “In the post-mortem, they found some evidence of small carnivores, which indicates their bodies must have laid there for quite some time – enough time for animals to scatter the bones.

“We can speculate that they crawled somewhere under a bush and died.

“The area is extremely steep, rocky, densely vegetated, you could pass by a body two metres away hidden by some leaves – and not see it.

“Potentially you could have to comb through every square inch of that area.

“Even when we go there with a large team, we still can’t be sure we will find them.”

Some have raised the possibility of the backpack, containing all the evidence, being planted – suggesting third party involvement in their deaths.

But Jürgen said: “The backpack was stuck against a rock in the middle of a raging river. The woman who found it was only there for a few minutes.

“If you were going to plant evidence, the risk you are taking by planting it in the middle of a raging river is a very convincing argument against the fact the backpack was planted.

“The pieces of bone were found in the river between some rocks, they would have only been there for a few hours before they were washed away again.

“Basically, it was a stroke of luck that we found anything at all.

“The planting theory of the remains is very unconvincing with the risk of it being washed away.”

Jürgen also addressed the mystery of one of the girls’ phones switching on three days after the last photograph was taken – on April 11.

He doesn’t believe it was switched on by Kris or Lisanne – instead, he thinks there was a technical glitch which caused it to switch on.

But the cause of the girls’ deaths and disappearance have never been determined – and remain a disturbing mystery.

Cops quizzed locals, tour guides and other hikers, but only the photos and call logs currently offer a slither of evidence as to what happened.

Although no date has been set, Jürgen and Marja hope their planned return to the jungle can help uncover answers for Kris and Lisanne’s devastated families nearly 10 years on.

Photos released from the camera showed some of the girl’s belongings scattered around the rocks

One image appears to show the back of Kris’s head – possibly with blood around the bottom of her hair

Marja West and Jürgen SnoerenThe jungle was searched with the help of the cops from the Netherlands – but there was no sign of the girls[/caption]

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