Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The disappearance of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon in Panama, Boquete 2014 - an ongoing mystery



The missing Dutch girls in Panama

4 December, 2019 I want to write something about a missing persons case that has kept the Netherlands awake for some time now. It is a relatively "old" case actually, from 2014. But especially in the Netherlands, this disappearance was never really forgotten. I initially got sucked in so bad, that for some time I had nightmares and trouble sleeping and thinking about anything else than what these fellow Dutchies must have gone through. This case is so complex and has so many twists and turns and it will grab you so much emotionally, that I decided by 2018 to write out everything that is known so far in this blog. I am not a professional crime writer or blogger, but I felt this case is so gripping and interesting (and sad) that it deserved recognition outside of the Netherlands. And justice. I'm not a native English speaker, so apologies for any grammar errors or strange sentence constructions I may have made. 

When I tried to make some sense out of this disappearance case back in 2018, there was on the one hand very limited public information with regards to what actually happened to Kris and Lisanne, and on the other hand a lot of hard to find local journalistic work, which had not always been highlighted much. Then there were a couple of forums where relevant information was also shared, but outside most of the public's view. I also translated many videos and articles of interest from Dutch to English in order to provide you with the most detailed archive of this case. And instead of having all these pieces of information scattered all over the internet, I brought them together here in a (long) and detailed narrative of what is publicly known about the case by now (call it a form of Open-source Intelligence), with source links provided whenever possibleThis includes interviews, journalistic pieces, statements from people linked to this case, investigation results, new findings, leaked photos and files and more, poured in a more or less fluid read. But as this case is so complex and ever evolving still, the blog grew and grew over time. Making it more difficult to wade through. So it will take some of your time to read through it all now.. Over time the accessibility of all this now translated information has led to huge coverage by youtubers, bloggers, on news sites and forums. The many cryptic clues and unanswered questions now give this case almost a cult status. It was clear from the start that the story had some gaping holes and that there was conflicting information out there. Unfortunately there still is. I tried to broaden the narratives about what may have happened to them accordingly. And at times I add my personal opinions as well. In the ultimate hope that when more people know about this case, chances increase of us ever finding more facts and answers. This blog post was originally posted in early 2019, but had to be reuploaded more recently. It took me years by now to write and to update. I do not monetize this work. If you want to use my work for your own publications or videos then that is fine, but please be so courteous to give a shout out or a simple source mentioning and link back to my blog, thank you :) Now, here we go..


On March 15, 2014, Dutch students Kris Kremers (21) and Lisanne Froon (22) boarded a plane from Amsterdam to Costa Rica. They made a stopover in Houston. From San José, Costa Rica, they travelled by bus to Bocas del Toro, Panama. A boat took them to the Panamanian island Isla Colon in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. Lisanne Froon [phonetically pronounced as Frohn, with a hard, trilled 'r'] is tall, 184 cm, athletic and just graduated from her university studies in Applied Psychology. She was born on September 24th 1991 and said to be thoughtful, intelligent, empathetic and a little bit shy. She loved the music of Coldplay and kept a diary, which she also brought along to Panama. Lisanne's brother Martijn has read passages from her diary aloud in a Dutch TV program called Break Free (if you are interested in viewing this program you can find it translated by me here and here. If you want to read the diaries, go to part 3 of my blog series). Kris Kremers [phonetically pronounced as Kreh-mers, with a hard, trilled 'r'], a middle child with an older brother Sjors and a younger brother Tijn, was less tall than her friend, measuring 167 cm. She had just completed her studies in cultural social education at the University of Utrecht. She had decided to start studying art history once she would come back from Panama. She had previously done work in psychiatry, dealing with people with severe addiction diagnosis. Born on August 9th 1992, she was sparkling and extroverted; cheerful, intelligent, spontaneous and outspoken, with striking red/strawberry blonde hair. She loved theater and the artistic world. She also enjoyed festivals and music from Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. She had a boyfriend in the Netherlands and kept a diary, just like Lisanne. The two friends had saved for a long time for this trip, which was supposed to be part of a gap year. They knew each other from their work in cafe/restaurant 'In den Kleinen Hap' in Amersfoort and they both rented rooms in the same student house - Lisanne had in fact only started living on her own several weeks before her trip to Panama. They planned to not only sight-see around Panama, but to also learn Spanish in Bocas del Toro and to do volunteer work at a local children's school* (also named a nursery or a daycare center in the media, but I will call it a children's school in this blog) in Boquete. They didn't just want to go on one long holiday, but also do something for local children. In Holland they gathered money from friends and family to buy children's toys for the Panamanian kids they would teach. They planned to return home on April 21st. (Although Kris' brother Sjors always mentioned April 29th as their planned return date). Kris developed a love for South-America after a holiday in Peru with her parents. Lisanne had never travelled further than southern Germany with her parents.  -  Btw: I call kris and Lisanne often 'girls' in this blog, even though they were young women of course. But in Dutch we'd call them 'meiden', which is somewhere in between women and girls I suppose and it is a term of endearment for young women. Here I translate it as 'girls'. 

The girls first visited the coast of Panama and had a good time in Bocas del Toro, learning some Spanish, enjoying the beach, food, drinks, sightseeing and dancing in the evening. Kris and Lisanne stayed two weeks in a hostel called Mamallena, which belongs to the Dutch-ran language school they visited: Spanish by the Sea. They met two young Dutch men there, who they spent a lot of time with, as well as several international young men. Lisanne wrote shortly after arrival in her diary; "Waaaaah what a trip. Luckily I almost forgot about it already upon arrival in the beautiful and cosy Bocas del Toro. I would not want to be found dead in San Jose, although the chance of this is quite high in San Jose. But I could live in Bocas for the rest of my life. Maybe when I ever retire? I am sitting in the sun, which I can't hold out much longer by the way (hot!) and I take a good look around me at my new accommodation for the next two weeks. The heat is already very special by the way, even in the shade I have the feeling that I can still burn alive. But despite this, the sun is actually quite nice. How intensely happy it can make a person. Kittens, stray cats, yes, they are regular customers here. They walk everywhere! Just like mini salamanders, even in the shower! If they manage to keep the spiders away, they could actually become my best friends. We have also seen a dolphin, the ultimate enjoyment. Drinking from a coconut, a real one yes! And getting sunburned, I worked well on my tan, what more do you want?!" - She went on to describe Spanish classes, excursions where they saw dolphins, sloths and bounty islands, and evenings of eating and drinking and dancing with their new made friends. Kris wrote about their travel to Bocas: "The bus trip was an adventure in itself. The bus trip itself went well. But first we had to speed through San José by taxi because we had no cash on us. When we got out in Sixaola, we and two locals were the only ones left. We had to just figure out for ourselves how to get to the border. The bus driver only spoke Spanish. We were sent one way and with our backpacks we really stood out among the locals. We arrived at the border, which consisted of an old bridge. It was very bizarre to cross the border that way. Once on the other side we arrived at a building where we had to pay money for a sticker on a passport (I think we were scammed). When we stood at that real immigration [checkpoint] a man approached us and asked if we had to go to Bocas. We were a bit suspicious because we didn't know very well if we could trust him. All the people were in a great hurry because they thought we would not be able to catch the last boat. For this reason we decided to just jump in the car and hope for a happy ending. And it came. After a hellish ride where the driver was driving so fast that I didn't even dare to look, we arrived at a small stepping stone for the boat to Bocas. After about half an hour we finally arrived."

When Kris and Lisanne arrived in 
Boquete two weeks later, on March 29th - a city close to the western border of the country with around 19.000 inhabitants - it soon after turned out that their appointments had changed; staff of the children's school "Aura" (Guardaría Aura) told them that they could not work there that week, as planned. In the media it has been said from the start that school director Maria Elena said that she 'had other things to do elsewhere' and that she had no time or place for them, despite earlier made agreements. But to police, Maria Elena said on April 10th that she "did not offer any internships and did not even know the language school or Ingrid. In general, she had not employed any volunteers for three years". This completely contradicts what Spanish by the River employee Marjolein claims, namely that she arranged the work assignment for Kris and Lisanne by telephone with Aura daycare center on March 28th. Kris and Lisanne had received confirmation of their agreed volunteer work around that same time. Marjolein told SbtR owner Ingrid Lommers later that Maria Elena had turned her down out of the blue. It is also strange for Maria Elena to have denied knowing Spanish by the River, as they had her Guardaría Aura listed on their website at the time as a partner of theirs, offering volunteer work to foreign students. The website stated all the information for Aura daycare center. But as you will soon find out, this complex case is full of contradictions and flat out lies. 

The head of the school, Maria Elena, also complained later that she could hardly understand Kris and Lisanne, as they spoke no Spanish. They did understand hér however, when she made it clear to them that she "needed no volunteers". Lisanne wrote about this in her diary: "As we arrive at Aura on time, we are not even recognized or given a friendly welcome. The only thing we hear is "no proxima semana"= we are only welcome next week. WHAT?! We returned to the [Spanish] school disappointed and indeed, the daycare only has work for us next week." And Kris wrote in her diary: "When we arrived, we introduced ourselves, expecting the woman to know who we were because she was expecting us, after all. But that was not the case. She showed no sign of recognition and said that it was not possible now [to start volunteer work there] and that we should come back next week. We also did not understand what exactly was going on. Then we went back to the language school to tell our story and to get some answers. It turned out that there was no place/work for us after all this week, so we couldn't start yet. The school also found it very strange, because we had planned things months in advance." So Kris and Lisanne were sent away. All their preparations had been for nothing and all their plans went down the drain at that moment.. Especially Lisanne did not take this setback well, as they planned everything meticulously at home with the help of the travel agency they used, called Het Andere Reizen - roughly translated as A Different type of Travel(ing). Hans Kremers, Kris' father, also stated in a Dutch talk show that staff of the Spanish language school in Boquete - who had helped to organize the volunteer work - had even sent a confirmation email on the Friday, so three days before they were supposed to start their volunteer work. Confirming their start on the Monday. But the reality was that Lisanne texted her parents that day "We have been sent away. I am really very disappointed." A few hours later, Lisanne texted her mother Diny that they were trying to find another spot for them to do volunteer work, and that they would go for that. She started her diary entry for that day with "Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! Our first day was a disaster." 

Meanwhile the girls stayed with a local host family in Alto Boquete, which is situated south of Boquete, for four weeks; Miriam Guerra often houses international students and had a room for the girls in the main house. Miriam described the girls as smart and shy. In this local newspaper article she also stated that the girls were "restless". She said that on the first evening there, Kris read a book in the girls' bedroom while Lisanne kept Miriam some company in the living room. Despite not speaking very good Spanish, Lisanne managed to explain to Miriam that they didn't yet know what to do with their newfound free time. Miriam suggested the local school Casa Esperanza to them, which requested 'intermediate Spanish language skills'; the same probably applied to the Aura children's school. Casa Esperanza offered similar type of volunteer work, but the girls told her that they had already tried that place in vain. Miriam also recalled to a Dutch newspaper that Lisanne had coughed a lot, as she was "asthmatic". It has not been confirmed as far as I know if Lisanne had actual asthma, or that the journalist just called it asthma but in reality Lisanne had a cold, a sore throat or perhaps even some issues with the higher altitude in Boquete. It seems more likely to have been a cold. Either way, Miriam recalled that Lisanne was not feeling too well and also had a sore throat on Monday evening; Miriam didn't believe they would voluntarily go on a very long hike the next day. But the girls eventually did decide to explore the area the next days. They are claimed to have planned all sorts of sightseeing tours for the next week (starting on Wednesday April 2nd until Saturday), with the help of staff of the local Language school they attended, called Spanish by the River. This Dutch-run Spanish language school has multiple locations, including one in Bocas del Torro, called Spanish by the Sea, and one near Boquete, called Spanish by the River. In fact, this location was situated only a few houses from Miriam's place in Alto Boquete and Kris and Lisanne dropped in there many times, also to check things on the schools computers and to use their Wi-Fi. When replacement volunteer work proved difficult to arrange for the first week of April, the girls showed interest in local day tours, such as climbing the local volcano and visiting a local coffee plantation and a strawberry farm. But for Tuesday they had nothing planned yet. Perhaps to save money, because hiring a guide in Boquete can cost up to $35 or even $45. In this article it is said by a local tour guide that he charged $25 per tourist for a tour on the trails around Boquete.

On Tuesday April 1, 2014 they set out on a hike on the Pianista Trail (Sendero la Culebra), which is a well known path that brings walkers to a summit at around 8 kilometer distance from Boquete, meanwhile passing clouded forests and meadows. Here you can see a post from a hiker who made beautiful photos on this trail, to get an impression of its beauty and here is a video of people walking this trail. The girls wrote prior to the hike on Facebook that they intended to walk around Boquete. And they also sent Kris' boyfriend Stephan an SMS message according to Lisanne's mother, to say that they were going for a hike that Tuesday. A taxi is said to have picked them up and brought them to the start of the trail, which is about nine kilometers north of the Spanish language school and their host family's house. The taxi driver declared that he dropped them off in the afternoon (13:40 PM) and two staff members of the language school confirmed at the time that they had seen the girls leave there shortly after 13:00 PM. But the clock on their digital camera suggests that Kris and Lisanne started their hike around 11:00 in the morning, in fact. This is only one of many inconsistencies in this story, so be prepared for a lot of confusing storylines to come. According to her father and boyfriend, Kris last had contact with Stephan around 14:00 PM that day, by phone (Hans did not specify whether this was a phone call or a text or another form of contact). Lisanne and Kris wore light clothing on the day; shorts and a tank top, and didn't bring much with them other than a light backpack, some money, their mobile phones, a separate digital camera, a water bottle and most likely some food or snacks, although no wrappers of anything but small sweets were found and Lisanne's brother later said he didn't think they brought any food at all. So they were dressed for a short trip. Residents at the start of the trail have later declared to a Dutch journalist as well as atv crew that they warned the girls not to walk up there by themselves and the same had been told to them during an introduction talk by one of the school staff members. But the girls dismissed these worries and there was word that they took a local dog (named Blue, or Azul in Spanish) along, who was from restaurant owners at the start of the trail. Suspicion rose however when the dogs owners declared that Blue returned to Boquete that same day, without the two girls. The host family is said to have searched the area surrounding their home once they realized that their guests had not come back in the evening, but found no sign of the girls. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, the host family decided they would wait until the morning to continue their search. But in another interview the host mother said she was simply unaware that the girls were not home on Wednesday morning and said she left them breakfast before going to work, thinking they were sleeping in. It is often hard to be sure which version of a story found in the media is correct, especially when people provide different details in different interviews. Kris and Lisanne were said to have been scheduled with a local guide for a private walking tour at 8 AM that next day, Wednesday April 2nd, but they never showed up for this appointment. Which makes you wonder why they didn't just wait for this Wednesday tour to venture out with a knowledgeable local, instead of going out hiking alone on Tuesday already. It was at this point that the tour guide went to look for the girls at the house of the nearby host family. And later that day, in the early evening, he and a staff member from the language school contacted the authorities and the girls' families. The next morning, Thursday April 3rd, authorities are said to have conducted an aerial search of the forest, as well as a foot search with the help of local residents. Scroll down here in a follow up blog post of mine for a more detailed timeline that chronicles Kris and Lisanne's known movements as well as all the Sinaproc search activities. 

The families of both Kris and
 Lisanne hadn’t heard from their daughters since April 1. Before that date, the girls had regularly contacted their parents and updated them through calls, WhatsApp messages, SMS text messages and Skype. Kris had last sent an SMS message to her boyfriend Stephan, saying they were going to hike that Tuesday. Kris' mother Roelie had sent her a message on Wednesday, but it had been left unanswered. Kris normally responded quick, within an hour. But now she remained silent. Kris' father Hans Kremers said that they sent a(nother) message to Kris on Wednesday evening (April 2nd), asking if all was OK and if she could contact them, but again they heard nothing. Hans Kremers characterizes his daughter and her friend as responsible, down to earth girls who do not easily run into trouble. If they deviated from their plans they always let their parents know and he described them as serious and punctual. “They would never go away for that long without letting us know.” Lisanne's mother told in this talk show interview that after the girls found out on Monday March 31st that they had to fill up their time in Boquete because their volunteer work had been delayed, Lisanne had sent her mother a (last) WhatsApp message, saying that they had visited a masseuse. But she added: "Mum she is a Dutch massage lady. (A masseuse called Sigrid). The massage took place at Sigrid's home in Boquete. Lisanne would never go to some creepy dark place as she had to feel it was right, Diny later said about her daughter. And Lisanne's father Peter has said on TV that the pair would not have just gone out for the night without informing their parents at home about it: “No, no she would certainly have told us that they would be going out, or would be back late. They would not just leave like that..” In other words: sensible girls. But they weren't unsociable either; in Bocas they freely enjoyed the usual young people's preferred past-time habits; drinking, dancing and meeting other young people. So what happened to them? A coworker of the Boquete Equestrian Centre mentioned to have seen the girls before April 1st. He stated"They were hot and sweating and red from walking, so all things point to them not being acclimatized to altitude, no matter how fit they are." Although it is not certain that he actually saw Kris and Lisanne and not other tourists. Redness in the face is not that rare for north-western Europeans with pale skin - I myself get red cheeks also from exercise for instance - but in Lisanne's case her coughing, shortness of breath and asthma/cold symptoms may perhaps have made the strenuous exercise more difficult. Especially in a humid climate with hills and mountains. The Pianista route brought the girls to a height of 1890 meters (6200 feet) above sea level. With the trail starting at an altitude of 1278 metres (4192 ft.), they had to climb around 610 meters over the space of 3.2 kilometers (2 miles). And by all accounts Lisanne was not 100% fit at that time. When their parents still hadn’t heard anything by April 6th, one of the girls’ parents boarded a plane along with detectives from the Netherlands. Together, police, dog units and the Dutch detectives searched the forests for a solid ten days. Kris and Lisanne’s parents soon after offered a reward of $30,000 USD, but even this didn’t bring them any new information. Nothing was heard or seen from the girls for weeks, months.

Then, after about ten weeks, 
on June 11th, a local woman called Irma Mirando found Lisanne's blue Lycra backpack and it was handed to the police on June 13th. Irma and her husband Luis Atencio found it near a rice paddy, stuck between a rock and the river, on the bank of the river Culebre near the village of Alto Romero. This hamlet is situated in a remote area in the district of Valle Risco, nearly 17 kilometers away from their host place Boquete and 10-15 kilometers (and at least 14 walking hours) from the location where the girls were last seen. People from the Justice department picked the backpack up with a helicopter the next day. In an interview the woman who found the bag told the interviewer that she and her husband first called a local cattle rancher (later identified by her as local tour guide F's brother, José Domingo Gonzalez, as the couple work for the Gonzalez family) about the finding and that he called the police for them and handed the bag to the police a day later. 
The rucksack and its contents were photographed, but no written documentation was made by investigators about the condition of the finds (!). In the media, the bag was nevertheless described as clean and dry, with dry content.[1,2,3] This was based on the one photo taken by the police that made it to the media. The Panamanian TV station TVN published the above photo of the backpack on June 17. It shows both the rucksack and its contents in almost pristine condition. You can also see this for yourself in the (above) photo of the bag; everything looks dry and clean. Authors Hardinghaus and Nenner confirmed that unpublished other photos that investigators took of the backpack "confirm this impression". And that even the spread-out banknotes, which can be seen in other pictures, "appear to be barely soaked".

I elsewhere read that the couple Irma and Luis may have first cleaned the backpack before handing it over to the police, as in rinsing it off, which is unconfirmed. But Irma and Luis later recall to Hardinghaus and Nenner that the rucksack was slightly damaged, wet, and full of sand, but in a passable condition. We also know from the police files that there was actually some dirt on the bag, as well as some yellowish brown clay at ends of the straps of the bag and some plant fragments and loose sand inside the bag. There were also some translucent plastic fragments found in the bag. There is uncertainty about whether or not the bag was found to be wet. It looks normal in the photo - not even the turquoise flap of fabric of the bag looks wet or to have sustained water damage - and with this there is no evidence that the bag was ever wet by the time it was found. Even though that would have seemed likely, considering the place where it was detected. The backpack was not described as 'wet' (or 'dry') in the police files either. It seems therefore unlikely that the backpack was really wet by the time investigators got it in their possession (which was at least 48 hours later), but this is unverified. The money bills inside the backpack were dry and not decomposed; the metal parts of the bras were not really rusted and the camera still worked. Police assumed the bag had drifted by the river to the spot where the local woman noticed it. It had been raining heavily in the prior few weeks and some people believe that the backpack did not look like it had spent weeks in a wet, muddy jungle and river, having endured 72-something days in a highly humid rainforest in fact. [The photo of the backpack was taken in Luis' house on June 13th 2014].

A local investigator named 
Martin Ferrara O'Donnell later also shed some doubt 
on some of the details in Irma and Luis' statements. There already are different stories circulating about where exactly the bag was discovered. It was either found in a rice paddy, or stuck in the middle of the river, underneath some rocks. But Irma said that she was alone at the river when she found the backpack and went home to show it to her husband, Luis. Whereas Luis has testified to police that he was right there at the river when Miranda saw the bag and took it along. Their stories do not line up in that respect. Irma and Luis also both declared to police that it was the very first time they went to this rice paddy. It says so in the police files. But does that make sense? Who normally worked on that rice paddy? Why walk at least two hours to go to this specific spot (to wash your clothes?) and what are the odds of ending up exactly where that backpack of Kris and Lisanne was supposedly lodged in the river? Seeing it by chance, as Irma was doing her thing? Then there is the phone call that Boquete police got the next morning, informing them about the discovery of the bag. It wasn't Luis (or Irma) who called, but a man called Domingo Gonzalez. Brother of guide F. Domingo the cattle ranger. Irma and Luis were employees of guide F. and his family, who own land in the Alto Romero region and employ several of the villagers. 

The police report also mentions several details from the forensic analysis of the backpack. The attachment of one of the straps had partly come loose. The plastic closures contained deep scratches. The fabric of the bag showed some signs of discoloration in various places, possibly by abrasion. A rectangular piece of the fabric of approximately 30 by 15 mm at the top right corner was missing, showing straight edges at the location of the damage. And close-by there was a straight tear in the fabric of the bag of approximately 10 mm. This big tear was located near and parallel to a seam. It was determined to have been caused by a sharp edge. The precise nature of this edge (whether it was a natural sharp edge or a man-made sharp object) has not been determined. But going by the photo taken of the bag, it does appear to hang upside down on a nail in the wall... Within this tear, the material polyester urethane was found. This material is frequently found as foam or elastomer. But the origin of this specific piece of material remains unknown. Matt had access to the official police files and concluded: "Although the damage of the backpack (scratches and abrasion) is consistent with travelling in a river and rocks, the damage is very light and probably not consistent with a travel of many kilometers in a wild river." An inhabitant of Alto Romero, called Guide Tony, was present when police came to Alto Romero by helicopter and opened the backpack. He told podcast makers that he saw it and says that despite being wet, the backpack was in "pretty decent shape"Having extensively been exposed to the jungle for ten weeks, it had held up. It was damaged, but intact. He also mentioned that he saw how the cellphones and money, all those things "were taken out of the plastic bags". It has not been reported on or cleared up since in what sort of plastic bags the phones and such were found, inside the backpack. Or whether or not Kris and Lisanne ever carried their devices in protective plastic bags. 

Soon after its discovery, a photo of the backpack started circulating in the Panamanian media. In this Panamanian news item the photo of the backpack was shown on June 17th 2014. It showed both the bag and its content, possibly providing the first real clues about what might have happened to the girls. Everything inside the backpack (from the brand Burton, with a blue/gray diamond pattern and turquoise interior) was in good general condition. In it were two folded up bras: Kris' bra was black and without a visible brand name, Lisanne's was described as having a colorful floral pattern and being from H&M. Two undamaged pairs of sunglasses (one pink, one described as 'black'). Both girls' mobile phones; a white Samsung Galaxy SIII mini from Lisanne with an orange protective cover (police later fixed its battery and SIM card to the device with adhesive tape). As well as a black iPhone 4 with a green/grey protective cover from Kris (police later fixed its battery and SIM card to the device with adhesive tape). Neither phone looked damaged. A black digital Canon Powershot SX270HS camera with battery and without a lens cap which did not look damaged, as well as a 16GB memory card from SanDisk*. (The camera was described as a 'Samsung camera' by mistake in the police files; police later attached its battery and memory card to the device with adhesive tape). A black camera case. A type of identity (insurance) card from Lisanne. One key with a blue key chain and a small padlock [the same type of lock perhaps as we can see lying here in the top right corner on Kris' bed? Found after they went missing]. The bag also contained a snail and two small (sea) shells. Also found inside the bag were 87 American dollars and 50 cents (three $20 bills, two $10 bills, one $5 bill, two $1 bills, five coins of 25 cents and one coin of 5 cents). There were also 'two personal items' found in the backpack, which have not been further specified. The photo of the backpack also shows what looks like a wrapped up sweet, maybe a cough sweet or lozenge. The photo also shows an empty water bottle, which was also found inside the backpack. A similar looking water bottle can also be seen in some of the photos the girls took. In fact, photo #491 shows Kris holding two such water bottles. But the local cop who described the bag and its content right after it was picked up, did not list this water bottle in the content list of the original police report, strangely enough. What is inventoried by the policeman is "two personal items packed in accordance with the chain of custody" may have been the water bottle(s) and/or candy wrappers perhaps. Or perhaps these two personal items were something else entirely. It is not known why the police file does not explicitly specifies their nature. The sunglasses with the 'coloured' glasses matches the one Lisanne wears in this photo, taken on the day they went missing. But Kris seems to wear brown sunglasses there, not purple'ish ones like the one pictured with the bags content.. Was its colour somehow bleached by the sun?   

It also seems that the girls did not bring some items that could have potentially helped them perhaps, such as a compass, an emergency locator beacon, a solar charger/power-bank, a whistle or a reserve battery for their phones. (Obviously no satellite phone either..). No weapons have been found either; no knife and neither a lighter for instance. And was the key with a blue key chain also the key of their room? Surely they brought it with them. Also, the fact that the backpack seemingly travelled so far up the river raises the question how it could have stayed afloat, as opposed to sink and get saturated with water, in a river that winds for many kilometers and is littered with rocks. This river is said by officials to be able to disintegrate whatever falls into it, when the water is high enough. Yet, the backpack was found with almost no damage and with belongings inside that only endured some water damage. The backpack also seems to have travelled surprisingly far, while items that float in a river are normally more likely wash up on the shore sooner than later. Although the mobile phones and camera suffered some water damage, there was no physical damage to the screens of the mobile phones or the digital camera, such as cracks or dents. - *There was one SD card, not two, as has been falsely claimed by some: the local cop who first made the inventory of the bag and its content reported one SD card, which was pictured next to the Canon camera together with its battery, taken out to dry. And the Dutch NFI investigators also described the existence of only one SD card in their report. Another strange detail though: Hardinghaus and Nenner write: "The statement [made on June 12th] by Mayor M., who examined the contents of the rucksack before Pittí arrived at 9:20 a.m., does not quite match this account. He noted that the Samsung phone he examined had neither a SIM card nor a memory card. It is unclear whether this discrepancy, which is certainly significant, was investigated by the authorities. There is also little information in the files about any further investigations into the items found in the rucksack. The Dutch forensic experts asked by the Panamanian prosecutors for assistance, on the other hand, carried out a more detailed analysis of the evidence. However, this was done far too late to be of any use." A very strange statement, this.. 


The DNA analysis of the backpack
A total of 13 DNA samples were reported to have been taken from the straps, zippers, and edges of the backpack. Some DNA was also found on the bras. Out of the over a dozen samples of which DNA could be extracted (with six samples taken from the bras and 13 from the backpack), DNA could be extracted from the 13 samples taken from the bag, but none could be matched to Kris or Lisanne using comparative samples. DNA matches were only made for three of those samples. They turned out to belong to multiple people, including at least two different women and one man. But none of those DNA traces were ever matched to anyone specific. Since none of these complete DNA profiles were registered in the DNA database for criminal cases (and prosecutor Betzaida Pittí 'forgot' to take fingerprints and DNA samples from the people involved in the search or handling of the remains). The DNA samples also did not match that of Kris and Lisanne. That seems odd, as they most certainly touched their own backpack and belongings, but their DNA may have been washed off in the river water (and if that was the case, then the DNA of any other potential person handling the backpack before it ended in the water could also have disappeared). So, because local police did not collect the DNA from people involved in the searches and in the finding of this backpack (despite the recommendation of the NFI to do so), police could not verify if these prints were from people of the search teams or not. Shocking. Not even the DNA from the couple who found the backpack was recorded and compared - although in that case there would still be the unidentified DNA of at least one other female left to identify. Local newspapers reported that the woman leading the case, Betzaida Pittí, never further investigated these leads properly. As for the phones and the camera: the Dutch forensic report failed to detect DNA profiles on these phones and the camera. The police files reveal that fingerprints and DNA samples were taken from the two mobile phones, but that there was no DNA profile recovered and the recovered fingerprints were not suitable for identification.  

Regarding these fingerprints it was also reported in the local media that as many as 34 different fingerprints were found; 13 on the backpack, 12 on the (scotch tape on the) phones and 3 the camera, as well as 6 different ones on the bras. A 'complete profile' could be created of at least one person (other than Kris or Lisanne), but Panamanian authorities never tried or managed to trace this person. No fingerprints were properly recorded after all from those helping in the searches and handling evidence that was found on site. Not even the investigators themselves always handled the evidence with protective gloves and masks on; on the scotch tape with which memory cards were attached to the mobile phones/camera, detectives later found several fingerprints, but because the police did not wear gloves it can't even be excluded that officials were to blame for these fingerprints. The report carried out by the Dutch Forensic Institute officially revealed that six fingerprints were found on this self-adhesive tape and that only one of the prints, of which a photograph was sent to the Panamanian prosecutor's office, could have been checked in the Panama database. "This fact seems to have gone unnoticed by the prosecutor Betzaida Pittí, who so far has not checked the fingerprint with the locals who manipulated the objects or other possible suspects. According to the lawyer Enrique Arrocha, defense of the Kremers family, the prosecutor has not taken a statement from the people who handed over the young women's belongings to the prosecution, and neither had she collected the DNA found on the clothing and other belongings of the girls, he confirmed." It was later published in local newspaper La Estrella that one of the fingerprints found on the smartphone matched a Panamanian Database. No updates were ever given on this however. It simply never was cleared up either from whom those fingerprints were. There is also no explanation given as to why the cellphones contained no DNA traces, but at least six (strange) fingerprints. As for the bras: the Dutch forensic report mentioned that five of the fingerprint samples failed to obtain DNA profiles; the sixth came from one of the Institute's employees. There were no forensic results of the water bottle's examination either.

The backpack of the girls was found in good overall condition, but it showed 
some white discolorations on some places on the fabric (determined to be physical signs of wear) as well as minor botanical traces of leaves and soil material. Kris' dad also shared info early on that there were some minor leaves and sand residue inside the bag. Dutch forensic experts investigated the bag after June 20th and found yellowish-brown clay on the backpack straps, the origin of which they could not determine (it was not determined if the clay came on the backpack on site or after being transported away). Inside the bag were found plant and leaf fragments and loose sand. The Dutch forensic institute failed to determine the source of these plants for lack of reference. The NFI recommended that the specialists in Panama would take soil samples from the locations where the remains were discovered, but prosecutor Betzaida Pittí decided against this and to date, there are no reports of Pittí having compared these botanical results with the vegetation at the site where these belongings from the girls were found or the surrounding area.. The bag strap was also partially detached as the result of a loose seam, which the forensic experts attribute to "normal use." The plastic bag fasteners showed scratches. There was also a rectangular piece of fabric of approximately 30 × 15 millimeters missing from the surface of the bag, with the remaining wire ends looking frayed, seemingly pointing towards damage caused by tearing, a cut, or a stitch with subsequent abrasion. There was also a ten millimeter long cut in the material. The forensic expert in charge suggests that both types of damage were caused by a sharp-edged object. The detection of polyester urethane at the puncture site using infrared micro spectrometry also speaks for this. But Prosecutor Betzaida Pittí stepped to the media with this information and claimed to a local newspaper that the backpack had "signs of dragging". "This suggests - she explained - that the foreigners could have been pushed by one of the tributaries of the river called by the locals as "Culebra", which flows into the Changuinola River, in Bocas del Toro". Talk about trying to steer public opinion.. Both bras were found to contain remnants of sand and plant fragments, with the metal parts showing some slight rust, but no blood traces were found on either the backpack or the bras. In one of the first articles on the matter, the families of Kris and Lisanne expressed their disappointment in the leaking of the footage of Lisanne's backpack. "The family finds it very distressing that these photos appear in the media. They also show bras, which is of course not pleasant."


The data on the mobile phones
showed that within hours after the start of their hike, the girls were in trouble. The Samsung phone could be accessed without problems by investigators, while the iPhone suffered water damage, but its memory card could be accessed in a separate device. This data of the registered mobile phone use was published by forensic reports of the Dutch Forensic Institute and confirmed by the lawyer of the Kremers family; below I write down all the data. (An image of both the phone's permanent memory could be made). The time settings on Kris's phone were still set to the Dutch timezone during her time in Panama (so six hours later), even though the iOS 7.0.6 operating system running on the iPhone usually changes automatically. Notice that Lisanne's Samsung phone was only used at night and in the early morning hours after the first afternoon emergency call on April 1, whereas the iPhone of Kris was only used between 08:00 AM and 14:35 PM, so during the day. 

Day one. Around 16:39 PM
 Panamanian time, when it was still light, a first attempt was made to call emergency services on the day of their disappearance. Around ten minutes later, at 16:51 PM, a second attempt was made. Both times the Dutch emergency number 112 was dialed. 112 is a European emergency number that is also used in some countries outside of the EU. If needed, it automatically switches you through to the emergency number of the country you are in. It also works in Panama. But due to poor reception, these calls didn't go through. Then the phones were powered off, at or just after 17:52 PM for both the iPhone4 and the Samsung phone. It took 14 hours for another attempt to be made to call emergency services. In the days that followed, more attempts to dial emergency services were made. Not only through 112, but also by trying to call 911. That isn't only the American emergency number but also Panama's emergency number for ambulances. Neither of the phones ever made a cell network connection again after April 1st. 

On day two of their disappearance, on Wednesday April 2nd, both phones were used alternatively. Three call attempts were made in total, at 06:58 AM, 08:14 AM and 10:53 AM. The Samsung phone was also switched on for a few seconds only at 13:50 PM, without making a call. After the other call attempts, the phone was also immediately powered off again. The iPhone from Kris was used once, to call 112 at 08:14 AM. The iPhone of Kris was powered on at 08:12 and right away the log data shows that the iPhone was then manually switched from 2G-network to 2G+3G-network. Perhaps this was done to increase the possibility to get a network connection. Right after that, 112 was called with the phone. Dutch officials also determined that Kris changed some settings on her phone by 08:14 AM, allowing its control panel to be used without the need to first enter PIN codes. The phone's control center was opened and a feature got activated that allows someone to swipe in order to access the system and applications from a control panel, so without having to enter an unlock code. It requires quite a few (I'd say intricate) steps. It is not known if Kris herself did this, or somebody else (reminder: Kris had not even set her phone's time correctly, and neither girls used the Canon camera to its abilities, sticking to the automatic setting). The now enabled control panel feature made it much easier for anyone to access the iPhone, especially for those who did not know the phone's PIN and SIM codes, or who could not remember them. But both codes still did need to be entered afte restarting the phone for full access all the phone content. While doing this action to the control panel, a screenshot photo was made from the telephone screen. The operating system apparently automatically takes a screenshot of this action, showing the control panel configuration screen. At 8:14 AM the iPhone was turned off and was not used again for the rest of the day. 

At 10:53 PM someone tried to dial the emergency number twice with Lisanne's Samsung phone; first the Dutch 112, then the Panamanian 911 for the first time. At 13:50 PM the Samsung was only powered on and powered off again. At 16:19 PM the Samsung phone was powered on and left on. The Samsung phone was then left powered on all through the night of April 2-3. It was left powered on for over fifteen hours straight. The digital forensic expert registers that files are "opened, created, and changed" on the cell phone until the end of the day. But what happens to the cell phone during this time remains just as unclear as the reason why it is not switched off again.

April 2nd was also the only day when one of Kris and Lisanne's calls apparently made a short connection at 13:50 PM. *The official police files do not mention this important detail that Lisanne's Samsung phone managed to make a connection with 112 for 1 to 2 seconds, but this leaked phone log from a local Panamanian newspaper (La Estrella de Panamá) does, they say it happened at 13:56.. They also based themselves on police files at the time and have all the other details correct.. I do not know if they are correct or not about this connection however, but I will keep it up here with a source link. Translated: "1:56 PM - The phone turns on. Call to 112 for help in Holland and 911 in Panama. It connects to the GSM and then shuts down." And in this local article that leaked the phone log data, it is stated: "on some occasions the devices managed to connect to the GSM or mobile communications system [..] according to the forensic reports of the Dutch Institute." Then the phone was powered off. If true, it is not clear why exactly the call was disconnected; probably because the connection was too poor, or possibly because the connection was broken off by someone. But then this someone also purposely switched off the phone shortly after. Between the last call of day 2 and the first call of day 3 sit 22 hours
     
On day three of their disappearance, on Thursday April 3rd, the Samsung phone from Lisanne has been powered on throughout the night. At 02:21 AM the Accuweather арр was opened for 13 seconds on the running Samsung phone and then closed again. This may perhaps be linked to some mild rain that fell in the area at the time. The phone had 6% battery remaining at that stage, but the phone was not powered off, despite having been on for 10 hours and 11 minutes straight at that point. Then on 02:41 AM applications of the Android OS were used, but it is not known which ones. The expert delegated with the investigation could not determine this. Various programs are used until 02:47 AM. By 07:36 AM the Samsung had only about 1% battery left and was powered off. At 09:32 the iPhone4 was powered on and 911 was called twice at 09:33 AM. Then the iPhone was powered off right afterwards. The phone had no cell network connection and the call did not go through, like all call attempts with [perhaps] the exception of the 1-2 seconds on day two. When the caller screen was closed manually, an automatic screenshot was taken. At 11:47 the iPhone was powered on and then powered off again. At 15:59 PM the iPhone4 was powered on and the contact “Mytiam, 00 507 679xxxxx” was looked up on WhatsApp (this is not a typo). The number corresponds with host mother Myriam's phone number. A screenshot generated when the phone book is closed shows the contact "Mytiam." But the number is not actually dialed. Then the phone was powered off at 16:03 PM with 39% battery capacity remaining.

On day four, Friday, the Samsung phone was powered on and off at 04:50 AM. At 05:00 AM the Samsung phone was again powered on and off. The battery of the Samsung phone from Lisanne was now at 0%. It would be unsuccessfully powered on again on day five at 13:14 PM, and on day ten at 05:15. But the Samsung Galaxy S3 did never properly boot up again. At 10:16 AM the iPhone4 was powered on and off. At 13:42 PM the iPhone4 was again powered on and off.      

On day five
, Saturday, the iPhone4 was powered on and off at 10:50 AMThis was the last time the SIM pin was entered correctly. From then onward, the wrong PIN code or no PIN code was entered. Until then the phone had successfully received both a SIM pin (0556) and a login PIN to unlock the screen. Apparently this first SIM pin needs to be entered in order to be able to see information such as the phone's signal strength. If entered incorrectly, the phone will be blocked ultimately. This happened correctly until April 5th, 10:50 AMAt 13:37 PM the iPhone4 was powered on and off, but the SIM PIN code was either not entered, or not entered correctly (this cannot be determined). The NFI described it as "the failure to enter the PIN". But whoever entered the SIM pin not/incorrectly must have known the Login pin to unlock the phoneWhomever entered these incorrect PIN codes failed to activate the phone, but in theory phones can still make emergency phone calls then; there is just no access to the phone data itself. At 13:14 PM a log file was created on the Samsung, which is only possible if the phone had power. However, the Samsung did not power up and the battery had probably just enough power to start the phone’s boot process, before it shut down. 

On day six, Sunday, at 10:26 AM the iPhone4 was powered on and off. The SIM pin was not entered or not entered correctly. An automatically generated screenshot shows the clock app being used. At
14:35* PM the iPhone4 was powered on and off without a correct SIM PIN code. 14:35 is the corrected time; Dutch NFI professionals officially wrote 13:37 down as the time, for a second day in a row. This has created a lot of attention and debate over time, because what are the odds really of powering your phone on 13:37 exactly, twice, without having access to a clock or a watch in the supposed jungle? But the authorities eventually cleaned this odd detail up years later, as being a presumed human error in the (NFI) case file. It will be April 11th, so five days later, that the iPhone is powered on next. It still has some battery life left at this point.  

On day seven, eight, nine and ten, no activity of either phone could be found. Despite the girls being awake and active seemingly on the night of April 8th, when around 90 nighttime photos were made by someone. So, between day four and six there had been merely a string of attempts to just find a reception signal through a specific pattern of daily times when the phones were switched on and off. Over time they were used less and less to try to call emergency services. They were only powered on and off again now and then. The iPhone from Kris was however switched on and off until day eleven, April 11th, which seems a long time for a smartphone (anno 2014), battery wise. Especially considering Dutch Forensic investigators have confirmed that both the phones had only 51% and 49% battery life on day one, by the time the girls walked up the Pianista Trail at 11:00 AM. Even though the phone was not used on days 7-9, phones even lose a certain amount of battery life when they are switched off.    

Then suddenly on day eleven, on Friday April 11th, Kris' iPhone was powered on again at 10:51 AM without a PIN being entered and it stayed on for one hour and four minutes. The phone was then powered off manually at 11:56 AM. The NFI report states that this is a deliberate process and that the phone did not switch itself off, as there should have been a crash report in the system. The iPhone still had some battery remaining, in the range of 22%. But that was the last time it was used.  The Dutch forensic scientist commented in the NFI report: "I saw that a total of 11 new log files and system files were created between 10:51 and 11:56 [a.m.]. I also saw that the date and time of the last modification (last written) of 7 other log files and system files were changed. I looked further in these log files and system files for activity between 10:51 and 11:56 [a.m.] that could be related to user actions such as opening applications or system settings. I found no further traces of this." So after a five-day break, someone was busy on April 11 with the phone for 65 minutes. But we don't know what phone services were used. The experts virtually rule out the possibility that the file manipulation could have been caused by an automated process. Someone must have operated the cell phone. Or have the investigators/prosecutor Pittí messed with the log files somehow? The NFI report on the telephone data analysis was unfortunately having some errors (think of the 13:37 time duplication error), but it also "appears incomplete and selective overall" according to authors Hardinghaus and Nenner, who had copies of the files and did a thorough and scientific analysis of them.

False claims 
Two Dutch authors omn the other hand, have amateurisly and falsely written and claimed that a second SD card was found with the Canon camera and the phones. They believed at the time that they were the only ones with copies of the case files and they used this invented second SD card to try to explain away the missing file #509 in a way that did not make Betzaida Pittí or anyone else suspicious. These two also falsely claimed that a second phone battery for the Samsung phone of Lisanne was found in the backpack, But we now know that the local policeman who first made a written inventory of the backpack and its content, right after it was brought in around June 13th, did not write this info down. No second battery was reported, neither by the Dutch NFI, and nowhere in the phone log info shows it anywhere that Lisanne replaced her phone battery with a second one. Also, there were no unsent text messages found in their phones and no 'goodbye' messages in any shape or form, which the Dutch duo also cruelly suggested. This was confirmed by Dutch investigators and the parents. The NFI forensic experts did not find a single explanatory word, message or draft on either the cell phones or the camera. Unfortunately, the writing Dutch duo has tried to sensationalize things and has insinuated that a (conveniently) anonymous cop has seen attempts of the girls to send text messages after they went missing, which is also made up and incorrect. The investigators who checked the phones, the case files and the parents and their representatives have all and always confirmed that no text messages were found, drafted or attempted to be written or sent by Kris and Lisanne. Luckily reliable people have since published thee real case facts and I summarize and write out every case fact in a comprehensive matter for you, in this blog series. 

So summarized, 
the phone logs (which we just have to trust to be correct and complete, although we cannot be 100% sure of that even) show that the phones of Kris and Lisanne only called 112 and 911 during the first three days of their disappearance. No further attempts to call 112 or 911 were made again after day 3. Check part 4 of my blog series for more details about the specific phone use on April 1st, including apps that were used.





77 attempts to get into the phone
According 
to some sources, no less than 77 attempts to get into the phone were made between the 7th and 10th of April. Others claim that the wrong PIN code was entered that many times. In this news article, former detective Dick Steffens has been quoted in that there were 80 attempts to log in on the phones of the girls. Wikipedia states [at the moment that I write this] that 77 actual emergency call attempts were made between April 7-10. However, there is controversy about this, and according to others these '77 times' can also refer to the amount of times someone just tried to activate the phone. Matt had access to the police files and revealed in March of 2021 that the info about the 70-something attempts to enter the SIM pin in Kris' iPhone4 was measured over a much longer time period: from March to April. Therefore it is not relevant for the situation after April 1st, he says. 

*The NFI report says about this PIN code problem:
"The iPhone from Kris has to be unlocked every time with a 4-digit security code, which is 0556, and then afterwards the sim-PIN code has to be entered. From April 1st to April 5th the telephone is consistently activated and turned on by entering both codes correctly. The investigator from the NFI concluded that the iPhone therefore had to be in Kris' possession between April 1-5, until the morning of April 5th in fact. However, from 13:37 PM on April 5th onward, the iPhone is activated four times without OR by entering the wrong PIN code. On April 6th for instance at 10:25 AM and 13:37 PM. But there are in fact purposeful actions made such as the swiping of the telephone screen, and the opening of its control panel. The NFI investigator concluded literally that he cannot think of any technical reasons for this to have happened, but that he in fact believes that the reason for this changing of the login patter is due to another person than the original owner trying to get access to the iPhone. A user who did not know the PIN code. Investigators believe it was a third person". As for Lisanne's phone, Panamanian investigators initially incorrectly listed the Samsung as having Password requirements, but the Dutch NFI subsequently found this was not the case. Lisanne's phone did not need a PIN code to operate it.




More about these wrong PIN codes and the amount
 of attempts
I found out where exactly this "77 wrong attempts" statement came from (aside from wikipedia stating it). In this episode from RTL Late night, on October 1st 2014 - unfortunately no longer playing for some reason -, presenter, Humberto Tan discussed the case again with Independent Criminologist Dick Steffens. Tan had already covered this disappearance case of Kris and Lisanne in multiple shows by then. You can find a selection of them, translated, on my youtube case-playlist. Humberto Tan asks the parents in this TV episode if they have any questions, to which the father of Kris, Hans Kremers, asks right away, at the 4 minute mark: "That for 4 days there were logins with the correct PIN code, and then for 4 to 5 days there followed attempts to login with the wrong PIN code." Then presenter Humberto Tan says that there were 80 attempts to get into the phone between April 6-10 without or with the wrong PIN code. Nobody at the table corrects him on this. Not the investigator who starts talking afterwards, not the parents. So this is where viewers took this detail for the truth. On forums some people thought that Humberto referred perhaps to the 70 nighttime photos made. Which argument didn't convince much as there were over 90 nighttime photos and not 70. But three days after this TV show, the (160 pages long) report of the Dutch Forensics Institute (NFI) was published and they stated that there were 4 attempts to get into the phone with the wrong PIN code. Matt seems to confirm this now. However, not everybody will automatically trust all the information in this official report. It were the Panamanian officials who first handled the phones and checked their data, before sending them to the Netherlands. Just like Pitti's Panamanian team were the first to read out the Canon camera that was found. Unfortunately they made some changes to the photos on the memory card. More about that later. This is why manipulation of the phone and camera data cannot be ruled out 100%. By accident or design. Others may have handled those devices before them. It is incredibly easy to manually change the time and date in such phones, then make call attempts and afterwards restore the right time. And so change the whole narrative with incorrect log data. Nobody expected at the time that one day, half the world would be eagle-eying the details of this case. People go missing all the time, and their files end up on a big pile usually. Please note: For the iPhone 4 running iOS7, which was on Kris's phone, six failed attempts gets you a one minute lockout. Seven failed attempts gives you a five minute lockout, eight gives a fifteen minute lockout, and nine failed attempts a full hour lockout. After ten failed attempts, the system will either lock you out completely or erase your data, depending on your settings. Once locked out, you will need to sync with iTunes to restore things. Based on the phone logs, that did not happen. 


Smartphones have Emergency Call on the lock screen nowadays and also already in 2014
so I wonder why someone was trying so hard to unlock the phone. You should be able to contact emergency services without unlocking the phone if there is cell phone reception. Maybe a third party wanted access to the phone, and not just to call emergency services but to see what was stored inside the phone, such as photos or messages. Maybe Kris was incapacitated and Lisanne had not memorized both her friend's PIN codes in advance, but still tried to gain access to the iPhone. Or perhaps both the girls got confused, forgot half their codes, but wanted to send a text message suddenly (although.. why didn't they do so the first four days then..?). They are claimed to have connected to emergency services once for over a second before the connection dropped, so maybe if they had tried to send a text message and let it pending, this short connection would have been enough to send it, and we could have had some clues now about what happened. Cell phone text messages may go through even when there appears to be no signal, in part because text messaging is a store-and-forward service. Lisanne's parents stated in the press that they communicated with their daughter mostly through whatsapp and SMS text message. Both Kris and Lisanne kept a diary, so they were naturally prone to documenting things in writing, but apart from the photos that were found, no personal messages were left behind. Or perhaps they did and a third party removed them again, just like one specific photo was erased - more on that missing photo further below. Some local guides stated by the way that there is only one spot of around 20 meters in size on the highest hilltop in that jungle-like terrain north of Boquete. Only there, on the Mirador, there is cell phone coverage they say. And you not only need to know which mountain, but also which specific 20 meters on it, the guide claims. Even a satellite telephone does not always work in the cloud forest, when the clouds are too heavy and thick for instance. It remains unexplained how Kris could have received a phone connection with her boyfriend around 14:00 on the day they went missing, considering they were behind the Mirador already by then, a zone without cell reception.. *By the way: If you need to place an emergency call, all networks will accept 911 (or it's equivalent). Even if there's no signal that your phone uses without roaming (which is practically moot domestically, but relevant internationally) and even if your phone has been disconnected for non-payment or currently isn't attached to any provider. You can still make an emergency call.

Also, this Dutch newspaper mentioned that the phone screen was also 'swiped', with a finger
more than once. This has been confirmed in the official police files. But without having access to the phone's content at some point, when no or incorrect PIN codes were entered, what was there really to swipe? Maybe Kris did it purposely or accidentally and it is nothing of importance. Or could this perhaps mean that someone who did not exactly know how the phone worked tried to swipe it? I think the chance of that is vastly smaller than Kris doing it herself for whatever reason. But a possible yet far-fetched lead: in the small youtube video added below this paragraph, someone explains one possible reason for swiping an iPhone 4 (the same on that Kris had) when you do not have its PIN code. The video is from 2011 - so it was available in 2014 - and has millions of views. It's quite an extensive order of things that you need to do, but it shows that swiping by itself, IF you combine it with all sorts of other steps, could have gotten the person who wanted access to the phone after April 5th actually into the phone. Back in 2014 it was theoretically possible therefore to find out about this hack pretty easy online. I doubt that the girls themselves would have known about this, or had been able to memorize all these steps by day 5 of their disappearance, if they even knew about this hack option at all. But anyone else  at  that  time could have  found  this  information  easily if  they  had internet. Again, it seems not very likely or logical, but when thinking of all possible explanations, it is something to know about.

Interesting is also that the time stamp on the phone of the man in the youtube video, once he gets in, is 1:37.. (The equivalent of our European 13:37 PM). The same time that was in Kris' phone for the PIN-less signal check on April 5th. Probably a coincidence though. Initially the Dutch NFI investigators noted down this time of 13:37 for two days in a row in the case files. This caused some interest and suspicion in the online world, because what would be the chances of activating your phone twice at the exact same time, without having a clock or watch to go by? Years later it was clarified by the authorities that it was an error made by the NFI investigators, who inadvertently copied the time of 13:37 and printed it twice; both for April 5th and 6th. In reality the time for April 6th has to be 14:35, the authorities now claim. So that should solve the mystery of the identical phone activation times.. Also interesting is that the guy in that youtube video pressed 112 for help - the Dutch emergency number - and not 911. And he definitely is not Dutch. Meaning that anyone watching this video and not coming from the Netherlands could have known about this number. Another thing is that the Panamanian media had insight in the police report and published this photo. On April 2nd, for 08:14 AM, they registered: "Tomaron una foto de la pantalla del telefono, despues registra apago. Llamada de auxilio al 112". Meaning in English: "They took a picture of the phone screen, then registered the shutdown. Call for help to 112." This is another peculiar thing; the iPhone from Kris took a screenshot picture on day 2 in the morning... (This was confirmed in the official report). It made no sense really why they or someone else would do that. But in the youtube video below, the only way to get access into an iPhone 4 when you don't have the PIN code is to actually make a screenshot, while simultaneously pressing the home button and the power button. Although for several days after that screenshot was taken, the correct PIN code was still being entered in the iPhone from Kris. So the screenshot on day 2 was most likely something insignificant, done accidentally perhaps by one of the girls. By the way, it could also be possible theoretically that these attempts to call emergency services were mostly done by a 3rd party altogether, as a fake trail and by removing the little phone cards that are needed to actually make a connection. More on all that later. 

    

What doesn't seem to be a coincidence however, is that there was a 'preference' to call in specific time blocks: roughly speaking between 10:16-11:00 AM and then between 13:00-16:00 PM. This is remarkable, because these very regular call patterns are not related to sunrise, sunset and zenith times, making them all the more.. striking. Why didn't Kris and Lisanne ever try to call in the quiet evening or night? All these phone calls - except for two which were made at 04:50 and 05:00 AM on Friday morning - were made during daylight. And what happened on April 5th, when Kris' iPhone suddenly no longer received the correct PIN codes? (Big thank you to Jeremy S. who made me this image of the 'working hour' phone call times. I updated the image on March 21st '21, based on new information, Scarlet). 

Update: It is disputed by now if there truly ever was a 1 to 2 second connection made with the cellphone of Lisanne. This was reported to have happened on day two and possibly more often, when Lisanne called 112 with her phone. A local newspaper who had all the finer details of the phone logs correct and who had been leaked this information, also mentioned this short connection to have taken place. This map with the phone data, published in a Panamanian publication, says that the phone shortly connected to the GSM then. The rest of their detailed information seems to be 99% correct, including the info about a screen capture, which the official case files confirmed to me to be true. Only their mentioning of a short connection cannot be found in the official case files. So, this supposed super-short connection has not been proven and it also does not feature in the official phone analysis results. It may therefore have been an error of the newspaper. Investigators in the case state that the local telecom company Movistar was asked on April 8th to share every detail they had about the girls' phone use during the first week of April, but that this resulted in nothing. Or perhaps the connection wás in fact made, but was too short to register in the phone's operating system or with Movistar? There was no GSM connection seemingly, but you can never rule out that on one particular freak stretch, there wás a short connection possible after all. 

Gaetan wrote me and stated that if a cell phone connects to the network for 2 seconds [as was claimed by some to have been the case here], the operator automatically knows many things. Because when a mobile phone connects to a network, many data are checked: first, once the pin code is entered, the phone connects to the nearest cell tower. Your phone number is verified by the servers to know which operator you can get access to, then your subscription plan (or prepaid plan) is checked and once deemed valid, you can access the network. All this takes a few seconds. Then you see the network operator’s name on your cellphone. Considering that on April 2nd, Lisanne's Samsung phone had a few seconds of connection that day, this means that the phone was actually connected to a specific cell tower. Meaning that Panamese cell operators should be able to know which cell tower was used when this specific 112 dial was made. Of course, a cell tower doesn’t give you a precise localization like GPS. The accuracy depends on whether or not you are in an urban area (more towers, more accuracy) or in the countryside (less towers, larger radius). In the case of Kris & Lisanne, it would have helped to know if the calls were made from a city or a forest. It would also be good for us to know if a tower near the Pianista Trail pinged, or one near... let's say the Caldera swimming area. However, Panama supposedly found no info on this. Even though cellular tower companies should keep records or logs of established connections. But Betzaida Pitti and her team failed to get this information. The Dutch investigators as a result had nothing to work with.  -  Gaetan also confirmed that if somebody needed to access the iPhone, a code and pin code were required. At that time, to charge or to connect the iPhone to a computer, you needed its non-standard 30-pin connector to usb-a cable Kris certainly left in her room. Another thing which Gaetan told me, is that in 2014, the iPhone4 (which Kris had) used iOS 7. Even now, people usually leave the tracking location services on by default. It means the iPhone regularly pinpoints your location using either cell or gps. There was even an app showing on a map where you’ve been to. It could be interesting to know where the 112 calls have been made.
Unfortunately investigators could not find or extract ANY GPS data from both phones.... Very peculiar and it raises the question whether or no the GPS function was manually disabled. This was not further investigated, so we don't know what happened there.  

Gaetan also wrote that the iPhone 4 battery cannot be compared to an iPhone 5C, as these two phones are a few generations apart (iPhone 4 from 2010 and the iPhone 5S/5C from 2013). He owns an iPhone 4 and after seven years of use, he now manages to keep its battery alive by charging it at 85% every 1 or 2 months. In the meantime, the phone is totally switched off. When he restarts it, the battery lost about 20 or 30%. But in his case, after ten years the battery is still working fine. Translating this to the Kris and Lisanne case, it is apparently not that strange that Kris' iPhone 4 was able to be switched on and off for eleven days, starting with 51% battery life, and with over an hour of phone use time left by day eleven. Matt made a good graph of the decline in battery of both phones. He agrees however that it is strange that the iPhone had still enough battery by day eleven to be powered on for over an hour, and then have what he estimates to be around 22% battery left still.. 

With regards to the mobile phones of Kris and Lisanne, Hardinghaus and Nenner have written that their signal strength determined in the NFI report is a crucial point. Even without network contact, a cell phone displays the current signal strength under certain conditions. Unfortunately, the NFI report only provides values for the iPhone, as no information could be extracted from Lisanne's device. From April 3 onwards, the log data obtained for the iPhone no longer shows any signal strength, which the NFI report does not go into any further. 


 








Then there was the digital camera in Lisanne's backpack 

which had not the same battery problem as the mobile phones, so could be used for a much longer time. In fact, the battery life of this Canon SX270 HS digital camera is amazing, and if the camera is not used it is known to last for a whole year even. The camera was also reported to have been found in relatively good condition and its SD card was accessible for researchers. The director of the Computer Science Department of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (IMELCF), Humberto Mas, inspected the mobile phones in June of 2014 and assured in the press that despite the conditions in which the devices were found, the information on them could be extracted through a specialized process. Investigators were able to view around 133 consecutive photos (only one was missing, more on that later). The photos that were published look sharp and fine, in the sense that there is no seeming (water) damage to these files. This camera has no GPS location option, so investigators could only establish or guess the location of the photos based on the visible surroundings. A Dutch "highly qualified digital forensics expert" also analyzed the camera and its SD card, and discovered a total of 470 photo files in JPG format and seven video recordings in PMB4 format on the memory card. A total of 133 photos were created after March 31st, numbered from #476 to #609. They fall into two categories: daytime photos from April 1 (33 in total, of which 23 have been leaked to the public over time, one way or another), and nighttime photos from April 8, (100 in total, of which we know 50). The NFI only examined image files that were taken after March 31, 2014, i.e. after the girls' disappearance.     

THE TRAILHEAD
The first inspected photos showed the girls in good spirits on April 1st, confirming that the women had taken the Pianista trail and wandered into some wilderness, hours before their first attempt to reach 911, but with no signs of anything unusual. The girls took photos of each other and the weather was good; sunny and no rain. These first sets of photos show them walking up the trail, as well as showing the scenery around the trailhead. As this blogger who took the same route (but on a more cloudy day instead) describes this old cattle trail: "El Pianista Trail is one of the moodiest cloud forests I have ever adventured into. Rain droplets falling to the ground from every leaf and branch while mist floats through dramatically. The early stages of the hike are open fields, with mountains on all sides. You can already see the clouds hugging the summit of the mountain. You know what you are heading into. I enjoyed the early parts of this hike with the beautiful hills on either side and the sounds of the river cascades to the right." And in this blog the Pianista Trail is described as follows: "The trail can be broken into three "sections". In the first 45 minutes, you will walk through open area pasture land with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and downtown Boquete. Second you enter a dense jungle* surrounded by lush vegetation, birds and insects. In here you will walk for about 1.5 hours and enter the cloud forest where it is very humid and magical, as you are literally walking in the clouds! Finally after another 30 minutes climbing the mountain, you will reach the top and will be fully enveloped in the cloud forest. It's really an amazing experience!"  -  *People often call it 'jungle', but Boquete locals tend to correct this notion and describe the nature surrounding the Pianista trail as a highland forest. "Only the highest part is jungle. Like maybe 5% of the presumed "lost" area. The rest is a tropical highland forest with people, large pastures and well hydrated cows. It is not anywhere near as wild as those hyping for click bait and book sales would have you believe. The settlement of Alto Romero where some of the items were found nearby even has cell service."

HALFWAY UP
Photos #481-486 show the
 girls just about halfway up the Pianista trail. Photo IMG_483 shows Lisanne and photo IMG_486 shows Kris and Lisanne posing together in a meadow area of the trail. Photo IMG_489 shows Kris on the trail. Photo IMG_491 shows Kris with a stern look on her face, holding two water bottles in front of her. This picture was taken a little bit before the summit, at 12:03 PM. Photo IMG_493 is said to show the trail up the Il Pianista, around 700 meters before the highest point: the (Mirador) summit. It was taken at 12:42 PM.  - That is the recalculated time, the official time stamp on that photo was 18:42 PM, but all these times were recalculated by investigators because the girls seemingly never adjusted the time or the correct year, with the camera being set to 2013 instead of 2014.. (You can manually set the time and date on the Canon SX270 HS camera, which had not yet a GPS function). Neither the Canon digital camera nor the iPhone from Kris were set to the correct local time. Although there was a seven hours time difference between the Netherlands and Panama at that time, not six.. But Dutch forensic investigators claimed to have been able to see the time on a wrist watch that was pictured in one photo, and compare it with the camera time for this same photo. [Unfortunately this photo was never made public and in the existing photos of Kris and Lisanne, which can all be seen here, neither of the girls ever wears a wrist watch]. The investigators claim that they discovered that the digital camera was set approximately 6 hours earlier than local Panamanian time. The date and time had to be changed manually and Kris and Lisanne seem to not have done so. They neither adjusted it to summer time on March 30th. - Then the next set of photos on the girls' camera established precisely that they were at El Mirador (a lookout) on the El Pianista Trail, at the summit of the Continental Divide on April 1st, the day they went missing. 

 


THE MIRADOR
The Continental Divide
is a long string
 of mountain ranges that run all the way from South America to North America. This specific mountain range is called the Cordillera de Talamanca, summarized the CD. At this lookout point you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea on clear days. It is not rarely windy here and the high mountain range catches often clouds and holds on to them as well. But today the girls had clear skies and great vistas. Experts have said that they could determine from the sun’s angle that the photos were taken at approximately 13:00 PM. But there is some controversy about these times, due to multiple important witnesses placing the girls around 14:00 PM at the start of the Pianista trail. More on that later. Then followed a string of selfies on the Pianista summit. Mostly all these selfies have been made public by now, through leaks or through public use of them by family members. Photos IMG_495 (taken at 13:00 PM) until IMG_504 (taken at 13:06 PM) were all taken from the Pianista summit. Photo IMG_499 shows Lisanne smiling on the top of the mountain at 13:01:38 PM. Some people commented on the strange way in which her body seems stretched in this photo. Especially her left breast looks a bit out of proportion suddenly - and only in this photo -, making some people believe this photo could have been photoshopped. Although smartphones also can distort photos around the edges sometimes due to their specific lens. However, this photo was not taken with a smartphone. This Dutch photo specialist has looked into the case and tells you in his video the extent of photoshopping he thinks he detected in the leaked photos of the girls on their trip, which have also been shared in this blog post of mine. Some more about this photo #499; the photo setting is set to landscape, not auto face detect. Yet we see Lisanne's face large and in focus. We can also see clearly in this photo that Lisanne is wearing the same bra that was found in the backpack. This photo with photo number #496 was the second photo the girls took on the summit, at 13:02 PM. The first photo on the summit (#495) has not been shared publicly, but we know from people who have seen all the photos that it is a similar style photo. Just like photo #497 and photo #498, it shows Kris and Lisanne looking proud and elated. 




Within the time frame of two minutes, the girls made a string of eight photos on the summit of the Pianista. Sometimes there were only six or eight seconds between shots. The photos are all taken on the East side of the summit, facing the east to South-East. This older type of camera does not show you what is in your photo frame, so you need to aim it correctly. Six seconds after a portrait photo of Lisanne was shot (#499), photo IMG_500 was taken, at 13:01:44 PM Not only must they have taken sharp photos from different positions and spots in quick succession; the clouds also look different at times. Two photos of the girls stand out from the rest in that respect, showing this thickly clouded background. This is all the more striking, because these summit photos were taken within a six minute time frame (and these two specific photos within 6 seconds of one another). Near blue sky with a thin cloud on one and near covered clouds on the next. There was seemingly not much transition space left for the blue to drift gradually over in full clouds. But from what I read it is not uncommon on this stretch of land to have dramatically different skies over the Continental Divide. Which seems the most obvious explanation here and in this photo from the girls, taken a couple of days before their hike, you can also see compact cloud masses above the mountain. But I also won't exclude the possibility that, regardless of what we have been told are the official photo times, both photos were taken at completely different times in fact; one during the ascent and one later when they may have returned there for a possible descent (in which case someone must have messed around with the photo numbering). This photo of Kris is made around the same time.

Both Lisanne and Kris also have their hair tied back in some photos, and loose and windswept in others. They must have rushed around to shoot all these photos on different spots, with different hair styles and all within minutes/seconds. There were also nine photos taken with their smartphones on the summit between 13:14 and 13:15 PM. So again a lot of photos rushed and taken within little over one minute. You can read about them here. At this point they were over 4,5 kilometers away from Boquete. This site tells us that going up the Pianista until the Mirador summit, and then back down to Boquete again, takes the hiker 9,3 kilometers and around 5 hours and 40 minutes on average, depending on your speed and level of fitness. Local tour guides do it a lot faster however and can walk up the mountain in about an hour. Lisanne's brother Martijn retraced his sisters steps later (full TV show on this can be seen here or here) and it took him and a local guide 3 hours to climb the Pianista up to the summit. The girls reached the summit by all accounts in just less than 2 hours time, making them fast walkers. But they also had excellent walking conditions on April 1st of 2014, with sunny dry weather and it had been dry for a long time, so the trail was easy to walk. Other fit hikers also managed to reach the summit (well) within 2 hours, often in rainy and muddy conditions. This hiker for instance who is in good shape, reached the Mirador summit in 1 hour and 20 minutes he stated (and one hour to go back down again).


THEN THEY KEEP WALKING
Normally tourists turn around at this lookout point at the top of the Pianista trail
, to walk the same path back to Boquete again. These days there are signs at the top - placed there after the tragedy of Kris and Lisanne - warning people not to walk further without a guide because there is more treacherous terrain ahead. But also a small waterfall... Based on police investigation into their computer use and online search history, we know that Kris and Lisanne had researched the Pianista trail prior to their hike. Please notice here that public prosecutor Pittí only decided to have the computers at the language school examined and to have a digital image of the hard disks and server created on April 29, so 28 whopping days after Kris and Lisanne disappeared! Panamá América reported that: "An inspection of the computer of one of the Dutch women, made by the authorities of that country, showed that hours before her disappearance they were looking for information on the internet about the El Pianista trail." And Dutch digital newspaper RTL Nieuws also reported that Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers searched on April 1st for info on how to enter the trail, its extension and the conditions of the terrain. The information that most caught the attention of the young women was apparently that there were three sections of the trail that could be covered in three hours, two hours and an hour and a half, the newspaper added. The language school also had a copy of Lonely Planet, in which they read the information that it was necessary to turn around and walk back to return to Boquete. Language school staff member Marjolein also told them explicitly on Sunday March 30th that they had to turn around on the Mirador and had to walk back down again if they ever chose to walk the Pianista trail.

But perhaps they reckoned, while on the summit that afternoon of April 1st, that they still had time to walk on towards this waterfall. This is an assumption because we don't know why they didn't just return to Boquete the same way they came. We can only see the photos they kept taking, showing that they wandered on to what is called the Caribbean Descent. Not that walking on was some sort of abnormality, or risky business by the way, despite what the Panamanian press wanted the world to believe shortly after this disappearance case. Only after this drama did the narrative start that you risk your life if you keep walking from the summit on. But in reality, the trail has been used for decades, centuries in fact, by locals and their cattle and tourists alike, leading to some local beauty spots; from quebrada gully-tunnels to natural streams and a small waterfall to cable bridges. It is a normal continuation of the trail that leads to the Mirador - which is simply the summit - and the streams further down are where you collect fresh water. But it was not the way back to Boquete, but instead a road further away from it. This explorer and writer actually walked the same Pianista Trail after learning about the disappearance from Kris and Lisanne, and he wrote about the situation at the Mirador summit: "Finally the Mirador was reached, very obvious by all the food wrappers left about by the previous searchers, it had taken exactly two hours to reach this point without stopping all the way from the restaurant. [..] Could they have become turned around thinking that the direction toward Boquete was in fact toward Changuinola to the North?  It seemed really unlikely as the Mirador had the section with the view to Boquete cut back on the right hand side,  with few trees rising above the path level, yet to the North it remained thickly wooded, even in the thick cloud it seemed unlikely, but of course not impossible." It looks like Kris and Lisanne also pictured Boquete laying behind them in the background on a photo they took at the summit. It is the last photo they took with their digital Canon camera while on the Mirador, taken at 13:06 PM, but they continued taking some more photos on the summit with their mobile phones after that (Lisanne's Samsung phone recorded the times of 13:14 and 13:15 PM for these photos). And they took multiple picture of this sight of Boquete in the distance behind them, also at least one with their smartphone. 

In this video, shot by Kris' father, you can also see the same place in the distance at the 07:50 mark. We can determine from the footage that this place (Boquete and surroundings) faces the south/south-east and that the trail that goes on beyond the summit faces the north. Considering that the trail continues in a more or less straight line, I personally do not believe that these girls ever believed that the ongoing trail allowed them to loop or to eventually see Boquete looming in front of them again if they kept walking on to the north: a theory that has been suggested at times by people following this case online. Not only had language school staff member Marjolein informed them beforehand that they had to turn around, but unless you are in very disorientating, uniform stretch of nature (such as dense woods or plain desert terrain), it is also not that easy to become so disorientated that you forget that the way home is laying straight behind you. We all have a built in sense of direction and granted, some have a better or a lesser developed sense for this, but given that Lisanne or Kris took an actual photo of Boquete laying down there behind them, there is simply no evidence or indication that they believed the trail would somehow loop back home. They would also have seen on this clear sunny day that ahead of them was nothing but nature. No villages. No civilization. Lisanne even checked Google Maps at this point, still standing on the summit. A summit which, being the highest point in the area, also could act as a trail marker of sorts. It seems most likely that they kept following the trail north, because it was a glorious day and not that late yet and because there was more nature to be seen ahead. 

THE LAST PHOTOS
So, by the time they were done taking summit selfies, the girls did not return to Boquete, as advised.
Instead, they continued to walk on, past the summit: Photo IMG_505 shows Kris bent in a specific way, with one hand used to shield her eyes, looking back. She seems to stick her tongue out. This picture was taken after they walked straight on beyond the summit, following the trail downwards again, further into the tropical forest. It was taken at 13:20 PM. Photo #506 was taken six seconds afterwards and appears to show the infamous 'wall of moss' just behind the summit, something which this matching gif image seems to confirm; it was taken by a youtuber and appears to show the location of photo 505. At 13:38 PM the GSM network connection of their mobile phones was cut off as they had ventured too far from the summit. Then IMG_507 shows Kris crossing a small stream, seen from the back again, at 13:54:50. The back of her jeans shorts shows a mud stain. Authors Hardinghaus and Nenner possess the case files and the normal sized photo copies and they claim that "There is also a small hole in her jeans". This could be of interest, given that the jeans shorts was eventually found by rescuers with similar damage to it. If the authors are correct, this damage may have already been made by Kris before photo #507 was taken and not be any indication of what may have happened after their disappearance. Eight seconds after photo #507 was taken, IMG_508 is said to be taken. It is the last known photo taken by the girls that day. However, strangely enough 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 circulating in online media and such, states that this last photo of Kris looking backwards was taken 50 seconds before the previous photo of her passing the creek. Of course, with her general direction of movement being forward and not backwards, this makes no sense. It is strange that two different versions circulate. This photo specialist explains that he thinks that he can link it to photo manipulation by a 3rd party. So far, this is a subjective explanation of events, but interesting nonetheless. The fact that no more daytime photos were taken on April 1st, could implicate either that they kept walking and that something unexpected happened, which prevented them from taking any more photos on the trail leading deeper into the forest. Or it is also possible that they returned at this point, back to the summit of the mountain and that they did not feel like taking more photos of the same scenery they had already seen. They had already taken pictures of that same route, after all. The girls would have probably only needed approximately one hour or less to walk from the location of photo 508 - the 1st quebrada/stream - back to the summit. And to then walk further downhill, back down to Boquete, would have probably taken them 1 (maybe 1,5 hours if they were very slow) at most. They could have been back at the trailhead by 15:30 or 16:00 then. And with the sun setting around 18:40 PM that day, depending on their location beyond the Mirador Kris and Lisanne would have had to turn around at the latest at 16:00 PM, in order to make it home before dark. Although that would have been already tight and 15:00 PM would have been a better time in fact. It is one theory that the girls kept walking after having reached the summit ("plenty of time") around 13:15 PM, but panicked by 16:39 PM. If they had indeed kept walking on and on for all that time, they would never make it back to Boquete before dark then.. More theories will follow. Please check out my entire and comprehensive oversight of all the photos taken by Kris and Lisanne, put in chronological order and with the known photo numbers and times attached here. Update: many of the remaining photos taken by Kris and Lisanne have been made public. You can see them all here or here.


ANALYZING THE LAST PHOTO
On April 1st, 34 pictures were taken with the Canon digital camera.
Photo #475 was probably the first taken that day, at 11:08 AM (17:08 data time). Left you see the last known photo taken by the girls on April 1st (photo 508). It shows Kris in what’s being called a “Quebrada”: a gully or ravine which you can walk through in the dry season, but in the rainy season they can be knee deep covered in mud. The term can also be used, confusingly, to describe a small stream of water. The photos also show what is said to be a barranca, also a gully or ravine, but with steeper sides, and also treacherous in the rainy season. On the photo of Kris crossing the small stream, the main trail she follows leads to the earlier mentioned small waterfall. They never pictured it however. The girls no longer made smiling selfies at this point, but instead someone - assuming it was Lisanne - took photos of Kris walking some distance in front. Kris looks back and her facial expression has been called slightly worried by some, although this is open for interpretation. The camera point is quite high, indicating that Lisanne may have climbed up onto something perhaps, or that the road itself was making a descent towards the creek. Something I couldn't verify in the videos featuring this stretch of the track.

WHAT HAPPENED THEN?
The question everyone is asking 
now is: what could have happened to the girls after photo 508 was taken? Their photos show that they had left the Pianista trail and crossed over to the other side of the Divide. The Pianista trail is a clear path, but once you walk on, paths eventually become small trails, poorly maintained and the forest closes in. But not unless you walk on for a very long time; initially the ongoing path is clear to follow and partly surrounded by stone walls that make it nearly impossible to unknowingly divert from this one and ongoing trail. You cross a small stream twice, the second time also passing a very small waterfall of sorts. These trails are said to be used mostly by locals, tourists and indigenous people living within the forests; some walk their cattle there, others use the trails to walk to their coffee plantations. This includes the Ngobe people, who’s village is approximately 12 hours by foot from the Continental Divide, and in whose territory the girls’ backpack was found. But despite this clear to follow trail going on for a long time after the El Mirador, it is a frightening thought that the girls were in distress relatively shortly after they crossed onto this side of the mountain and that they started to call emergency services so soon, while it was still light. And they called those emergency services in vain... The reason why they started calling 112 has never been discovered. Some people think they called for help because they thought they were lost.. Or because one of them had an injury. Being born and bred in the Netherlands myself, I like to stress here something that's a Dutch fact of sorts: every child is thoroughly made aware by their parents and by the state that one does not call 112 for anything short of an immediate life-threatening situation. Think of heart attacks, critical car accidents and being threatened by someone with a gun. You can get punished for abusing the number and even in actual life-threatening situations, many people are hesitant to call 112, unsure if their issue is 'serious' enough. I am extremely weary therefore of the theory that Kris and Lisanne would have called thát Dutch number by 16:39 already when it was still light, simply for fearing they could not make it back home in time or felt lost. That is not usually a good enough reason to call 112 in our country. 

Lisanne had downloaded google maps on her phone, but instead of checking it (which can be done offline), she closed google maps on the Mirador. Why didn't she look at it when feeling 'lost'? Even when offline, it would have identified their location on the map, and given a general indication of where Boquete was situated.

Others* think that the reason why Kris and Lisanne started calling emergency services shortly after 16:30 PM, was because they were followed by someonewho forced them deeper into the woods. (*I refer here to some of the forums, comment sections and online discussion places I follow). Because if they had been 'lost' at that point - which seems quite difficult to achieve given the one embedded trail that is followed and the density of forest growth off trail - then the obvious and most logical thing to do for them would have been to simply turn around and backtrack. Lisanne had downloaded google maps on her phone, but instead of checking it (which can be done offline), she closed google maps on the Mirador. Why didn't she open it back up when feeling 'lost'? It would have identified their location on the map, and given a general indication of where Boquete was situated. There was one clear path to follow and no clear reason for leaving it, to battle through thick growth while wearing shorts. So why didn't they? Did the narrow passages near the summit scare them and did they not want to turn around to pass them another time perhaps? There were also no photos found of anything that could have explained the emergency calls; no photos of an injury, of a strange person or of them being lost in hostile territory, away from the main trail. The photos simply stopped. And another thing; they also didn't use the digital camera's video option. People have said that they may not have wanted to let their relatives know what was going on, but that would be in very stark contrast with their usual behaviour: the girls shared their adventures with their parents and were in daily contact with them while in Panama. Why couldn't they have simply kept taking photos after their first call attempts? To document what was happening to them? Other people argue they probably wanted to spare the phones' batteries, which makes sense considering how vital those emergency calls were, but the digital camera (Canon powershot SX 270 HS) didn't have that battery issue, as its battery is sturdy and long lasting. And it also enabled them to record videos. When investigators checked its battery, 10 weeks later, it still wasn't 'dead'. So one would assume that in a situation of panic or danger, it was much easier to make a video recording or take some pictures. And if they truly got lost, photos or videos could also serve as a vital reminder of the trail they came from, helping to document landmarks and so on. So why didn't they? 

The girls were said to have been avid mobile phone users and eager to stay in touch with their family. They also took photos every single day of their holiday, often several dozens. Like most young people do these days. Makes you wonder why they díd not create a single normal selfie, photo or message about what happened to them during the entire 11+ days of their disappearance. Wouldn't they want to get a message out, or document their journey/ordeal? They wrote in their dairies most days, normally. Kris had a boyfriend in the Netherlands, but didn't try to contact him even once through messaging or phone after April 1st....Very strange. This young woman from New Zealand for instance fell in the desert of the US and broke her hip. Her phone had no cell coverage and she thought for days that she would die there. She said: "I was filming little videos from the moment I fell just in case anyone found me, to explain what happened. I haven't watched them yet [after she was found and saved]. I'm unsure whether I want to." Here you can see some of her self made videos, while laying isolated, thinking she would die there. And Robert Scott, to name just one of many other examples, was stuck in his tent in a snowstorm on Antarctica in 1912, knowing he would not make it out alive, and he used his last powers to write letters to loved ones and last lines in his diary. Leaving some message or some update of what is going on, can work very soothing for most people. Many people do. So the fact that Kris and Lisanne didn't record anything or leave a single message for their beloved parents, while normally in the habit of doing so, is out of character. The question is: did they opt not to because they were physically or mentally unable to, or because they didn't have the freedom to do so? If you want to consider foul play a possible factor in this disappearance, then it isn't far-fetched to imagine how anyone can make fake phone call attempts in a region where not even your GPS location is establishable, let alone a phone connection. But a 3rd party cannot fake someone else's voice messages and personal videos, and cab neither fake Dutch draft text messages. 

And regarding these emergency calls
:
 David wrote me under one of my youtube videos about this case, that he thinks you would normally only call emergency services as a desperate last resort. It's an important point to bear in mind he thinks, because if someone merely gets lost, in daylight still, his own experience has been that people are inclined to first try to find their own way out. To walk around the area until you find something that looks familiar. Not to start calling emergency services right away. Which seems a valid point to me. Although we need to remember that this was a foreign country, foreign terrain for these girls. Who were just 22 and 21 years old. So they may have panicked faster than they would have done at home, in the Netherlands. But David's point is that it's quite an extreme measure, calling 911 (or 112 in this case). So it is hard to say what triggered Kris and Lisanne to call emergency services themselves at 16:39 PM already. I personally think that it was because they experienced something frightening. Something very acute. Fear of being stalked, or fear of being unwantedly chaperoned by some men they were afraid of perhaps. Of course, one can imagine many possible reasons. They may have endured an injury perhaps. I lean away from that scenario personally, because in such a situation sourch troops should have found them a day or two later sitting alongside or near the trail, logically. And if they hád called 112 because they had just realized that they wouldn't make it back to Boquete before the evening fell (which I do not believe considering the time of day and the normal Dutch hesitancy to call 112 for anything that isn't directly life-threatening), why didn't they also try to call their host family nearby? Miriam's number was in their WhatsApp contact list. She would be a more reliable source to try to contact, being able to direct police or volunteers up there to guide them back home in the twilight or dark. What would emergency call center staff in the Netherlands be able to do, practically, in this situation? And Miriam would have also waited for the girls in the evening with dinner.. Wouldn't Lisanne have tried to call Miriam therefore, when things went wrong? But they didn't try to call the host family... Nor their own family.


Another waterfall.
Not only is there a small and narrow waterfall beyond the Mirador, which the girls would have passed if they'd continued to walk the trail. But there is also another, larger waterfall beyond the Pianista summit. But it is harder to find. (See part 3 of this blog series for the aerial 3D photos proving the waterfalls existence and where exactly it lies in relation to the small stream of photos 507 and 508). Kris' mother Roelie said in a Dutch interview about the plans of Kris and Lisanne (as far as the parents were aware): “They had made a plan for that week. They were also going for that volcano…but they were going to do that later on Saturday. They were also going to see the waterfalls in that area later, but they had all planned that.” Marjolein and Eileen also emphasized that the girls were interested in seeing local waterfalls. Could Kris and Lisanne have aimed at hiking to waterfalls that Tuesday April 1st? Is it possible that the girls deviated from the main path at some point to find this waterfall? The Hidden Waterfalls had been on their wishlist. Is it possible that they believed they could reach them through this trail and that they got lost along the way?

Calista Hart wrote this about the girls' disappearance in her blog: "In April my Spanish teacher told me that two young women had gone missing from the sister school in Boquete, Panama. They had left all of their belongings, and not told anyone where they were going that day. The last anyone saw of them they were talking to two strange men, making plans to see the waterfall." With which men they talked, and which exact waterfall they wanted to see? We don't know. There are several in the area. And this blog post has a description of how to get to this one specific waterfall, pictured on the right. It is considered 'the hidden one', as there is no official description of how to get there. Quote: "The Pianista really is a knockout, winding through meadows with stunning mountain vistas along the rushing Rio Pianista, and with an abundance of lush cloud forest vegetation. This trail goes up to the Continental Divide (a more ambitious hike that we did with a group last year), and if you’re especially adventurous, it can take you all the way to Bocas Del Toro on Panama’s Caribbean coast. (CAUTION: no one should EVER go beyond the Continental Divide without an experienced guide. Just Google “Dutch Girls in Panama.”) Today we had something much more mellow in mind – we wanted to get to the “secret” waterfall that Susan and I had not seen yet, but the others in our group had been raving about. The trail begins at the Il Pianista Ristorante (outstanding Italian food, BTW) in the Alto Lino area just north of Boquete. You need to wade across the Rio Pianista after 200m, but then it’s a steady, leisurely incline for 2km before you start to climb a steeper, narrow path. Today, we were accompanied by two young guides, Jefferson and Miguel (as it happens, these cousins are nephews of our gardener, Sergio) – and it was a good thing, because finding the waterfall required us to get off the trail and take another cow path that leads into the cloud forest. We could not have found it on our own. Since we’re right in the middle of the rainy season, it was a pretty muddy slog – but not too bad." Source: blog Latitude Adjustment.

Update: Romain has explored the Pianista trail and beyond a second time recently and has confirmed to me that there IS really a waterfall behind the Mirador, but that it isn't the one mentioned above. That 'Hidden Waterfall' lies only at 1 hour and 50 minutes from the start of the Pianista trail, and still on the Boquete side of the mountain, but out of sight. Below a couple of waterfalls in and around Boquete, including the Three Waterfalls, photographed by tour guide Plinio 

 





You can continue reading about the nighttime photos and the bones here. And here you can read [restored] reader comments 


Then there are update blog entries: part 2 detailing topics related to the swimming photo for instance, part 3, with all the photos and the diaries, and part 4 with further case updates.