On April 1, 2014, two students from the Netherlands named Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers went on a hike in Panama with a dog. The dog came back, but the young women didn't. A search eventually turned up a severed foot and scattered remains, but authorities had trouble determining how the hikers had died. Years later, some people still believe someone killed the pair.
Froon and Kremers were both in their early 20s; they traveled to Panama to work with children. Many hikers from all over the world disappear, fall, or suffer other fatal accidents while traveling - this could've happened to these women as well. But there are a few holes in this particular theory. For one, the girls' camera had photos on it from hours after they stopped dialing emergency services. Also, a serial killer might have stalked their area at the time.
The world may never know what happened to the pair, but speculation still runs wild. Did they become lost and fall down a cliff? Was someone who's still out there responsible for their deaths? Or is it all part of a cover-up?
Searchers Uncovered The Bodies, Thanks To A Severed Foot
Two months after discovering Kremers's clothing, further searches finally turned up human remains. Searchers found a shoe behind a tree along the river where the backpack reportedly appeared. It contained a sock, an intact human foot, and anklebones, with enough flesh for DNA testing. By the end of August 2014, DNA tests linked the foot to Froon. Investigators later uncovered more bones and bits of skin, numbering up to 33 skeletal fragments. They also found bits of Kremers's skin in the jungle.
While the young women were evidently dead, none of the evidence explained how they died. The bodies were in pieces, likely scattered by the river over time; much was lost. No marks on the bones indicated damage, and some of the bones appeared bleached. The only other suggestion of injury was remnants of bones from Froon's foot, though a broken foot wouldn't have killed her. Though they "found" the women, authorities did not know how their deaths occurred.
Two Dutch Men Were Seen With The Women Before They Vanished
Authorities faced the struggle of trying to determine why and how the women had died. They began looking for persons of interest; they tried to figure out if the women had any company besides the dog. The innkeeper they spoke to said Froon and Kremers were alone, and had asked for directions before the hike - at this point, no one was with them.
However, police learned later from a Facebook post the pair met with some people before their trip. In the post, Froon and Kremers said they shared brunch with two Dutch men on the last day anyone saw the women. However, no reports cropped up about these two men.
The Authorities Ruled The Women's Deaths An Accident
By March 2015, almost a year after Kremers and Froon traveled to Panama, investigators at last reached their conclusion. Their research into the case suggested the women most likely suffered some sort of accident along the trail, but became lost in the forest. Froon had supposedly fallen a great distance and died either in or near the river.
Her foot would support this theory; experts said the breaks in the ankle and foot could only occur from a fall from a great height. The taken photos showed the date of when the women tried contacting emergency services, likely after Kremers suffered her injury. But in the dark, they couldn't find their way back. Froon died trying to exit the forest, leaving Kremers dead or dying. The remains then decomposed, thanks to the river and rain, and ended up scattered miles away.
There was finally a resolution to the mystery, and the case could rest. Still, some people weren't so sure.
People Criticized The Way Panama Handled The Investigation
Many claimed the Panamanian authorities botched their handling of the case. A writer for the Panama paper La Estrella Adela Coriat said the whole thing was a mess. She reported there was no chain of custody established for the recovered evidence or remains. She also said the 30 prints found on the backpack not only remained unidentified, but none of the indigenous peoples involved with the case had their prints recorded.
She voiced further concern over the investigation of the electronics, saying the condition of the equipment found was inconsistent with the place where it turned up. The lack of damage to the equipment was suspicious, but the police didn't investigate this matter, and also failed to scrutinize a photo deleted off of the camera.
Lawyer Enrique Arrocha, who works for the Kremers family, voiced concern about the handling of evidence. He claimed there wasn't a forensic investigation conducted at the crime scene, and the evidence and its sources remained unverified. Furthermore, still lost are the women's skulls and other major bones, which may reveal a more definitive cause of death.