The disturbing deaths of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon on their La Pianista Hike in Panama

Kris Kremers & Lisanne Froon disappearance

Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, Disappeared April 1, 2014, ContinentaL Divide in the rainforests near Boquete, Panama. Partial Remains Discovered June 19, 2014.

Revised April 2024

Introduction to the disappearance of Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers in 2014

Kris Kremers

Kris Kremers

Lisanne Froon

Lisanne Froon

Two Dutch women, Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22, went on a 5-6 hour hike near Boquete, close to the Continental Divide of Panama, on April 1, 2014. Kris and Lisanne had come to Panama to study Spanish and volunteer to work with children in the community.

Their remains were found two months later in mysterious circumstances, with the authorities claiming it was an accident, whilst Dutch private investigators working for the family were convinced that there was likely to be foul play involved. Indeed, the Panamanian authorities’ explanation had many holes in their theory that the two women had fallen off a cable bridge across a river and were washed away.

What happened to the Holandesas’ is the subject of much speculation, with disturbing photographic evidence of their last days, including the mysterious missing picture #509 and plenty of unanswered questions. There have been many theories that have raged across internet forums in the years since their tragic deaths. But for now, the case continues to raise questions despite its official conclusions.

The Kremers and Froon trip to Latin America

After saving some time to go on a graduation trip, on March 15, 2014, Dutch students Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22, got on a plane at Amsterdam airport to travel to Costa Rica in Latin America. From there, the two women headed to Bocas del Toro in Panama.

They spent some time on the coast, learning Spanish and enjoying the local food and drink. They met two Dutch tourists who were visiting the area at the time. Two weeks after arriving in Panama, on March 29th, they headed on to Boquete, a city on the west side of the country.

Boquete is a small mountain town in Panama, located in the westernmost Province of Chiriquí, about 37 miles (60 km) from the border with Costa Rica. It is situated on the Caldera River in Panama's green mountain highlands. Because of its elevation, 3900 ft (1,200 meters) above sea level, its climate is cooler than the lowlands. Its scenic location, temperature, and natural environment make it popular with Panamanians and attract tourists and retirees worldwide.

Lisanne graduated with a degree in Applied Sciences in September 2013, and Kris was studying for a degree in cultural social education. The two women from Amersfoort in the Netherlands met while working at the In Den Kleinen Hop restaurant in Amsterdam. They rented rooms in the same student house. Together, they saved six months for a trip to Panama for Lisanne's graduation celebration.

They arrived in Panama on March 15, 2014, for a six-week vacation, four of which were to be spent living with a host family while they worked as volunteers in Boquete, teaching local children in the school and learning Spanish.

But when they arrived at their host family's home, Lisanne and Kris were told their jobs would start in a week rather than immediately as expected. So they decided to take the time to explore the area around Boquete whilst they waited for their job to start.

The La Pianista Hike near Boquete in Panama

Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22

Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon

On April 1, 2014, they left Boquete in good weather in mid-morning to hike the La Pianista trail, an up-and-down path, hence the name. They planned to walk to the summit, around 8km from the city, and a taxi dropped them off at the start of the trail. According to the driver, Leonardo Arturo González (who died less than a yea later in strange circumstances) it was mid-afternoon, but the evidence from the ladies’ camera suggested it was around 11 am. It should take a reasonably fit person 2.5-3 hours to reach the summit, so it was a 5-6 hour round trip.

They posted on Facebook about exploring the area and meeting with fellow Dutch travellers for brunch that morning. They took with them a dog from the village and set out.

They set out on the walk with light clothing (tank tops and shorts) together with a lightweight backpack containing passports, a water bottle, a Canon Powershot SX270 digital camera, some money (around $80), and their cell phones (an iPhone and Samsung Galaxy).

The area beyond the trail is very rugged, steep, and dangerous, particularly during the April to October wet season, where areas become treacherous, and even the indigenous Ngobe tribe tread warily. The trail runs from the Chiriquí state into the province of Bocas del Toro, crossing steep river gorges up to 70 feet deep, which need to be crossed using cable bridges. 

El Mirador (the lookout at the summit - La Pianista Hike

El Mirador (the lookout at the summit - La Pianista Hike

Kris and Lisanne reached the summit around 1 pm, and it seems, for some reason, they decided to carry on beyond. Typically, tourists turn around at this lookout point at the top of the Pianista trail to walk the same path back to Boquete. There are signs at this spot nowadays warning people not to keep walking further without a guide because of the treacherous terrain ahead. They had looked the trail up on the computer the days before the hike and may have thought they still had time to walk towards a waterfall deeper in the jungle.

They were not equipped for a prolonged period in the forest with no food or survival gear. Hikers who plan to go into the more adventurous areas usually pay guides and take specialist equipment and supplies to last for days, including tents, food, and rainproof clothing.

Kris and Lisanne fail to return from their La Pianista Hike

Later that evening on April 1, the dog’s owners were alarmed when their dog returned without any sign of the two women.

The women were reported missing two days later on April 3, after the family they were staying with and a local guide who was due to take them to a national park nearby on April 2 grew concerned.

After they were declared missing, authorities put dog teams on the ground and helicopters, but initial searches proved fruitless, even with the help of local residents.

On April 6, Kris’s parents, Hans Kremers and Roeli Kremers and Dutch detectives flew to Boquete and started a larger search with specialized search and rescue teams and sniffer dogs. The search went on for another ten days, but still nothing. There was no sign of the women or their belongings. The parents also offered a $30,000 reward.

Hans Kremers and Roeli Kremers Parents of Kriss Kremers

Hans and Roeli Kremers

Lisanne was known to have asthma and complained to her host family of shortness of breath. Her asthma, paired with altitude change and panic caused by being lost, may have impacted her ability to survive the ordeal.

Kris Kremers IMG507 crossing a small stream at 13:54:50.

The discovery of the backpack

Ten weeks later, in June 2014, a local woman found the backpack in a rice paddy on the bank of the Culebra or Serpent River, near the village of Alta Romero, around 10.5 miles (17 km) from Boquete and 5 miles (8 km) from the summit of the La Pianista trail. It was estimated that it was around an 8-hour walk from their last known location, and the village was in a very remote area, which would have been difficult to reach on foot.

Around the same time, Kris Kremers’ jean shorts were discovered on a narrow strip of land between two fast-flowing tributaries. The Ngobe people who found the shorts said they found them zipped, folded, and placed on a rock high above the water.

KRIS KREMERS & LISANNE FROON backpack found near the village of Alta Romero June 2014

KRIS KREMERS & LISANNE FROON backpack found near the village of Alta Romero June 2014

Police from the Justice Department picked up the pack from the woman using a helicopter. They assumed it had drifted to the area in the river. But the backpack contents were dry and undamaged, and the bag looked in good condition despite weeks in the jungle or river. Furthermore, the finder said she was sure the pack was not in the location the day before. Heavy rain had hit the area in the prior few weeks, so it would be expected that everything would be soaked through, suggesting it had been placed there before its discovery by persons unknown.

Lisanne’s asthma inhaler was not among the belongings recovered. Investigators determined that the belongings had thirty-four different fingerprints, with thirteen on the bag. DNA was also detected on the backpack contents, but none led to any serious leads for the police.

The Pictures on the Canon Powershot and the mystery missing picture #509

A key piece of evidence was the discovery of Lisanne's Canon Powershot SX270 camera with over a hundred images on the digital memory card in addition to the passports, cell phones, sunglasses, cash, and their Bras when the contents of the backpack were searched.

There were 133 consecutive photos found, with only one mystery shot missing, IMG #509. The camera has no GPS location option, so investigators could only establish or guess the location of the photos based on the surroundings that were visible to them.

The first pictures on April 1 were standard tourist shots with both women laughing and smiling on a bright sunny day, with some selfies taken at the overlook of the Divide. Most of the pictures were taken by Lisanne, with Kris walking ahead of her on the trail.

Then we see the women following an indigenous trail near a creek or stream bed heading downhill, away from their destination, Boquete. Kris' face in one of the shots shows anxiety with sunset around 6.40 pm in the rainforest.  

IMG #508 is the last photo taken by Lisanne and Kris. But there are two versions of photo #508: one shows in its metadata that it was taken 8 seconds after photo #507, but another version of the same photo states that this last photo of Kris looking backwards was taken 50 seconds before the previous photo of her passing the creek. This anomaly could be photo manipulation by someone. No more daytime photos were made on April 1st after the last stream picture, #508, so maybe they tried to return to Boquete at this point but were intercepted.

Dutch specialists have tried to undelete the missing photo, which usually is not a challenge when an image is manually deleted because pressing the “delete” button does not mean the whole file is erased. However, experts failed to recover the missing photo and it would be impossible for the camera to skip a number by accident when shooting pictures. Did someone connect the camera to a computer and erase the photo to make it irretrievable?

Perhaps the women manually deleted this specific photo, and the subsequent images had permanently overwritten the deleted file. But when new pictures overwrite a manually deleted photo, there is often generally at least a fraction of the deleted photo found and to find no trace is suspicious or puzzling at least.

It is plausible that the Panamanian authorities took photo #509 off the camera because something was on it that they didn’t want the outside world to see. Maybe its content was at odds with the controversial accident scenario that the Panamanian police put forward as the leading theory. Will the picture ever turn up?

Dutch investigators were almost sure that someone deliberately deleted #509 permanently for reasons unknown, probably with the help of a computer. Since it is between the normal daytime photos of April 1 and the mysterious night photos of April 8, it could be a vital picture.

Of all the holiday photos the two women made on their holiday, investigators did not find any deleted photos. In addition, the memory card had plenty of space left. The emergency services calls started around this time—coincidence, maybe, but probably not.

The Travel Channel’s “Lost in the Wild - Hike into Hell” featured the disappearance of Kris and Lisanne. The presenters, Kinga Philipps and J.J. Kelley showed simply that if Kris and Lisanne had removed photo #509 manually, any time before the first nighttime photo was made, it would have never even known that it had been deleted because the following photo (the first nighttime photo) would have automatically received photo number #509.

Lost in the Wild episode -  walking on the cable bridge across the river

Lost in the Wild episode - walking on the cable bridge across the river

The strangest pictures on the camera and perhaps of most interest were 90 photos taken on April 8 between 1 am and 4 am, many in complete darkness, with rain falling. Some were taken a few seconds apart, and others up to 15 minutes later. Several shots appear to have been taken deliberately as they were not blurred, indicating that they were not taken under duress. At this point, the girls had been in the rainforest for a week.

RIS KREMERS & LISANNE FROON disappearance photos on camera

Photo on Lisanne's Canon Powershot SX270 camera

Kris Kremers photo

Photo on Lisanne's Canon Powershot SX270 camera

Some internet sleuths have speculated that the women were trying to use the camera as a light source in the pitch black, signal potential rescuers, or scare away wild animals. But analysis of the shots shows that many are taken below foliage, not in the open, and if the girls were trying to attract attention, they would have taken pictures in the open.

Kris Kremer’s hair shot on the Canon Powershot SX270 camera  April 8 2014

Kris Kremer’s hair shot on the Canon Powershot SX270 camera

A single close-up seems to show a wound to the right side of Kris's head in the temple area and blood on her hair. Lisanne may have been using the camera to offer clues to subsequent rescuers where Kris was if she needed to be left behind because of injuries.

Some of the shots appear to be orientated upwards, while others show ravines, gorges, and even man-made structures, most likely to be cable bridges—these bridges are very dangerous, especially in the rain. One photo seems to show a bridge three miles from Boquete, on the western bank of a tributary that forms the headwaters of the Culebra River. Were the girls trying to follow the river downstream, as advocated by many survival guides?

The Cellphones - Samsung Galaxy and iPhone

Analysis of the call records of the iPhone owned by Kris showed her trying to reach an emergency services number in the Netherlands at 4.39 pm on the day they went missing, April 1, using the Dutch emergency number 112. This was followed by a call to a Panamanian emergency number using 911. Due to poor reception, their calls weren’t connected. The Dutch number 112 also works in Panama and, if not, automatically transfers to the emergency number of the country the phone network is in.

They subsequently turned their phones off and tried calling several times on April 2, 14 hours later. Both phones were used to make these calls, and on one of these calls, they actually made a connection at 6.58 am. Lisanne’s Samsung connected for just 1-2 seconds on the 112 number, but the call quickly failed, and 36 seconds later, the phone was again switched off. They never managed to get a connection again despite trying several times.

On April 6, five days after their hike began, Lisanne’s Samsung mobile phone stopped working, presumably because the battery went dead. Kris’s iPhone was turned off until April 11, when it was activated at 10.51 and stayed on for 1 hour and 5 minutes. This was the last time the iPhone was used.

On day 6, when Lisanne’s Samsung battery failed, someone tried to access Kris’s iPhone, but the PIN was incorrectly entered (the code was 0556). It is claimed that 77 attempts were made to access the phone between April 7 and 10.

Discovery of remains in June 2014

Following the backpack's discovery, a local guide, with the help of six native Ngobe people, found bone remains, jeans shorts, and two different shoes along the Rio Culebra shortly before June 19, 2014.

The jeans shorts were found fourteen hours of walking distance from the backpack on top of a rock on the opposite bank of the river, at least 8 walking hours away from Boquete. Some witnesses claimed that they, in fact, found the jeans shorts not neatly folded at all but floating in the river itself.

The bone remains were found on June 19 behind a tree in the vicinity of Alto Romero and away from the river. Lisanne Froon’s left foot was found intact and inside her Wildebeast boot, showing multiple fractures of the metatarsals. DNA tests later confirmed a match.

The laces were still tightly laced, and a sock was also inside the boot. The foot still had some skin and flesh on it. The shoe with the foot was found upstream.

Forensic analysis found that the cut of the bone of the foot was surprisingly clean and that no blood was found on it, but there were no signs of cutting, hacking, gunshots or teeth/ claw marks.

At least thirty-three scattered bones, mainly from a left leg, were also discovered along the same riverbank, a few miles from the cable bridge and dry river stones where some investigators think the nighttime photos may have been taken.

Very few other remnants were found, and the ones retrieved were scattered, sometimes miles apart, but all following the direction of the river. One half of a pelvic bone, part broken, was also found, and it was identified as being from Kris.

Later, Kris’s no.10 right rib bone was also found, as well as a femur upper leg bone from Lisanne and possibly her tibia bone.

A rolled-up ball of skin from Lisanne’s shin was also located by investigators sometime later on August 29, 2014. The forensic pathologist later found that the skin was still in an early stage of decomposition, even containing maggots. In contrast with Kris's fully bleached and clean bones, the pathologist also discovered that the bone marrow in Lisanne's femur and tibia bones proved dry and un-decomposed. The bone marrow was intact and unaltered. The forensic pathologist speculated that someone may have manipulated the piece of skin.

The theories - what happened to Kris and Lisanne?

Roelie and Hans Kremers Diny and Peter Froon

Roelie and Hans Kremers with Diny and Peter Froon in 2014

Initially, neither the Dutch nor Panamanian forensic teams could provide a cause of death, with the official theory from the Panamanian authorities being that the women both fell off a monkey bridge and were washed away by the raging water.

The Dutch police concluded the deaths were likely an accident, but some of the Panamanian police and Dutch private investigators strongly believed that the deaths could have been foul play given some of the strange evidence found.

The case was first officially declared “a homicide” and “a crime against personal integrity” by Panama’s attorney general in the Chiriquí Judicial State report. Still, later in October 2014, two forms from the Panamanian State officials described the deaths as a case of abduction.

When Panamanian forensic teams failed to come to a definitive and official conclusion, the case was closed and considered an accident. They believed that Lisanne and Kris decided to continue into the wild terrain in the Continental Divide region and succumbed to the jungle.

According to officials, it was a simple case of being lost, and Kris fell first. Lisanne tended to her, then photographed her remains in the dark and continued until she also fell, broke her ankle and foot, perhaps fell into the river, and died from exhaustion, hunger, and the elements.

However, Dutch pathologist Doctor Frank van de Goot was skeptical of this explanation. He said, "There is no way to get lost. You actually don't need a guide." Regarding the official theory that the girls fell off a monkey bridge and were washed away, he said: "No way. They would never ever go on it."

Concerning the strange nighttime pictures on the camera, Van de Goot said, "Yes. I saw them. They are creepy. They're Blair Witch Project. The part of the jungle out there is known by the guides as 'jungle hell'. Past the Continental Divide... people die up here. When you are out there in daylight, there is no problem. When you are out there in the dark, it's game over. You haven't seen the cable bridges. I'm a mountaineer; you're full mortal on that bridge."

It appears at first sight that both women died because of the brutal and dangerous conditions in the Panamanian jungle. But was there something more sinister at play here? For a start, it was strange that one of their bags was found some distance from the river without water damage, but if foul play was involved, why weren't the valuables stolen? Maybe a rapist or a murderer just wanted to taunt the authorities, or they came across drug traffickers?

It is a sad case, with a terrible last few days for Lisanne and Kris in their Panamanian adventure that was meant to be the trip of a lifetime.

Unresolved questions (from the Koudekaas blog)

  • Who erased data from Lisanne Froon’s camera—and why? What happened to picture #509?

  • Why won’t Panamanian national authorities release the girls’ complete autopsies?

  • Why haven’t they followed up on the leads produced by their own forensic examiners, the Chiriquí police force, and local reporters? Or launched a thorough investigation into the other unsolved deaths and missing person cases in the area?

  • Why do we not know whose fingerprints were on the digital camera and the phones? We need to know who made the last phone calls to 911 and 112. Fingerprint analysis could help with that.

  • How about the water bottle and its contents? Were the water molecules found in the small plastic water bottle from supermarket-quality water? Was it water from a local river? Or was it local tap water, perhaps that was last in it?

  • Why were there no DNA samples taken from possible saliva remnants?

  • The girls had warned other youngsters in Bocas del Toro not to venture out alone without a guide, and they were known to be meticulous planners, so why did they decide to go out alone on a wilderness hike? (Perhaps because it was touted as just a “pleasant day hike” by Lonely Planet?) Or were they not alone after all?

  • Why was Blue, the dog who supposedly walked along with them, never seen in any of their photographs?

  • Why didn’t the girls return after placing their 1st emergency call?

  • Since they got into trouble early in the trip, as evidenced by their emergency calls, how could they have fallen into a river 12 hours away?

  • Many wooden sheds and small wooden cabins along the river are scattered around the terrain where Kris and Lisanne could have ended up. Given the location where their remains were scattered, why wouldn't they have hidden in there if they genuinely were lost? Waiting for the rescue teams to find them there?

  • Why do the statements of all the witnesses contradict the photo time evidence?

  • Why has the exact location of the 90 nighttime photos never been thoroughly investigated and established?

  • Why are so many witnesses’ statements off by the time they stated they had seen the girls on April 1st?

  • Why have their video recordings from that day in Boquete never been released or thoroughly investigated, and why do we not know when they were still in Boquete on April 1?

  • How could they get 'lost' on a one-way, easy track in an inhabited world where Ngobe natives walk the mountain trails daily with their cattle on top of it all?

  • Why did we hear nothing about the drugs- and gang wars going on in Boquete around 2014, with at least 15 local gangs fighting for dominance?

  • How can Dutch forensics conclude that the 90 nighttime photos were all dark when at least five photos have since turned up and out to have a clear landscape on them once the photo settings were slightly altered? In fact, why do they and their families lie about this?

  • Why are the other 85 or so nighttime photos so closely guarded, and do officials and family refuse to make them public, claiming they also show 'nothing but blackness' (a lie)?

  • Why have we not been shown all the photos on the photo memory card?

  • How come nobody could retrieve even a few per cent of photo 509, despite this being the norm when a photo is manually deleted?

  • How could Kris and Lisanne switch their phones on so methodically at set times without a watch or means of knowing the time in the jungle?

  • Why were no more photos or videos made of the girls and by the girls for eight days and nights after April 1st?

  • Why did they never try to call their parents at home, or their host family nearby?

  • Why were there no draft messages or other signs of life for their loved ones found back?

  • How come, after five days alone in the wild (supposedly), the girls seemingly didn't memorize each other’s cellphone PIN codes?

  • Did Lisanne's Samsung phone ever get a correct PIN code entered, considering all that phone ever tried to call were the two emergency numbers, which could be reached without entering a PIN code...

  • If they were lost and realized this, why cross two big rivers leading further into the wilderness? (Their remains were found where you had to cross those rivers).

  • If they were lost for 11 days, how come nobody found them despite local natives living there and many people using the area behind the Pianista, not to mention the legions of searchers?

  • Why have we never seen or been given the exact location where they supposedly fell and 'perished'?

  • Where is that ravine with photo proof of their remains, or parts of clothes, or even markings of their shoes? Plus, an explanation from the rescue teams about why they were never found on that spot, despite weeks of thorough searches and a team leader declaring they were not there as every stone was turned?

  • Why did the Prosecutor declare the girls were dragged to their deaths in the river when the pathologists say the bones show no sign of abrasion or injury markings whatsoever?

  • What was the real reason that the taxi driver died?

  • Did Osman Valenzuela die by accident, or was he murdered? And is it true that he had photos on his phone of girls matching the description of Kris and Lisanne?

  • What caused Lisanné's foot to break off at the ankle, and why did her foot still have flesh on it while Kris' bone remnants were bleached?

  • Why was there bleaching of one of Kris' bones?

  • Where are all their other remains besides the handful of small bones found?

  • Why were their remains found so far from the summit of the Pianista trail and scattered around?

  • How come the cheap backpack is said to have been floating in a 'wild river' for weeks, but the electronics inside had no water damage and were in full functioning order? And the cheap sunglasses in it were in perfect state.

  • If the backpack had been in the water, why weren’t the contents decayed, and why were they in such good condition?

  • Was the backpack planted? Prosecutor Pitti calls such insinuations “Irresponsible” and “without foundation.” (Panama News)

  • How were Kris' jeans and shorts removed? Why were their bras folded up and packed in their backpacks? Did they go for a swim after their Pianista hike, as some sources claim, and is that why they voluntarily folded up their bras and shorts by themselves?

  • Why were their shorts and underpants never found?

Subsequent events

The death of the taxi driver Leonardo Arturo González

Leonardo Arturo González death

Death of Leonardo Arturo González

In March 2015, less than a year after the two women disappeared, 34-year-old Leonardo Arturo González, who worked as a taxi driver and who took them to the Sendero El Pianist from Boquete in Chiriquí, mysteriously drowned.

He had taken three foreigners and a guide to the tourist sector of Gualaca, to see the Los Cangilones spa. Residents in the area spotted a body floating in the Estí River, so they notified the area authorities and it was later identified as being González.

Apparently, González was waiting for the tourists who were bathing in this place and somehow fell into the river.

StrangeOutdoors Exclusive Members Only Area
One time

Exclusive articles for members of StrangeOutdoors that are not available elsewhere on the site.

✓ 61 articles as of 2024

Further listening and viewing

Locations Unknown: EP. #82: Kris Kremers & Lisanne Froon - Panama

EXPLORE WITH US: The Camera of Two Missing Girls Reveals Chilling Photos That Can't Be Explained | True Scary Stories

Mystery Archive: Everything about the disappearance and bones of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon in Panama

Read more jungle stories from StrangeOutdoors

The real story behind the movie “Jungle” - Heroic Survival and mysterious disappearances


Looking for Kris and Lisanne, Lost in the Wild episode,_Chiriqu%C3%AD

Photos from the Kris and Lisanne hike