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Lost Girls of Panama: Will these missing people ever return?

The disappearance of two Dutch girls, Lisanne Froon & Kris Kremers, is a case of missing people that broke everyone’s heart when it was first revealed in 2014. Kris Kremers & Lisanne Froon were young college students who disappeared on April 1st, 2014, while hiking the El Pianista trail in Panama.

What was meant to be the adventure of a lifetime became the darkest final days of their lives. The investigation & theories of these missing people have been revisited in a new book, Lost In The Jungle by authors Marja West & Jürgen Snoeren. Learn how the authors shed light on the tragic & puzzling disappearance of these two young women. 

Two girls missing in the Panamanian jungle

On the first day of April under a bright sky, the two twenty-year-old students went on a hike on a scenic jungle trail in Panama, only to never be seen again. Sadly, as it was clear the girls became lost, the weather also turned turbulent. Many have remarked that under severe weather conditions in such a dense jungle, not even the most veteran trekkers could find their way to safety.

A few months after they went missing, a backpack containing their phones, camera, money, and some clothes washed up on the banks of the Culebra river. What also makes this case so heartbreaking are the final photos taken by the girls left on their camera. Both tragic & haunting, some photos simply showed the wet darkness of the jungle at night.

It can be assumed that these photos were taken when the women were realizing the desperate situation before them. Panamanian authorities hoped it would shed some light on what had happened, maybe even trace back to the girls. 

However, after months of extensive searches, Lisanne Froon & Kris Kremers would not be found. It wasn’t until August of that year that pieces of their bones were discovered.

Authors moved by the tragic story 

“It was 2016 and I was sitting on my veranda during a thunderstorm, in the pouring rain, at night. I was reading the coverage of the story of Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers,” Marja West told The Daily Beast. “The story totally fascinated me, I was thinking, ‘How would you feel as a girl in that situation?’”

She continued, “Deep into the woods, it’s wet, you are hungry, lost. You can’t reach your parents, you’re waiting for help that will not come. When does the hope stop? You are so young, on this beautiful adventure, an exciting holiday. Afterwards you will start your studies, your room, your study, everything is pre-arranged.”

“And then the moment arrives, the pivotal moment you begin to accept that you will die there in the middle of the jungle. I found that so intensely sad. That’s what grabbed me.”

The new book dives into unraveling fact from fiction

The co-author also discussed how there were endless possibilities as to what exactly happened to the missing people. “What triggered us was that based on the same facts, different conclusions could be drawn. The first set of articles conjectured that the girls had met with an accidental death,” West said.

“That’s when we decided to work out what had really happened for ourselves,” the author explained. “We started by looking on the internet, where it was extremely difficult to separate fact from fiction. We saw facts re-appear as if publications were copying one another. You could really move in any direction.”

As they dived into their research, the authors spoke with Dick Steffens, a former Amsterdam detective, who was still examining the case independently. “What he told us blew us away,” West said, explaining that “[Steffens] said: Kris Kremers is possibly still alive.”

Could Kris Kremers be alive?

Former detective Steffens added that he considered the Panamanian investigation was inadequate and needed to be revisited. “He also claimed a certain Stefan W. had come forward, saying Kris Kremers had ended up in the sex trade,” West added. “The man claimed he would be able to free her. Nothing came of it, and the family never heard from Stefan W. again.”

As there is no evidence to back any of those allegations, the theory was tossed. However, after West & Snoeren investigated original police files, forensic reports, autopsy reports, and even obtained the guidance of former Panamanian public prosecutor Betzaïda Pitti, the authors have detailed the timeline of the girls’ final days.

Their book Lost in the Jungle, answers numerous questions concerning the puzzling case. However, West has remarked that not everything has been revealed and a few hours remain unaccounted for. 

She said, “From the moment the last photo was taken on April 1st, to the first emergency call that day, around two hours and 45 minutes later, those are hours that we’ve been unable to reconstruct with certainty. The timeline before that is pretty exact, and the time after the first emergency call we’ve been able to reconstruct what must have happened.”

What do you think happened in this tragic case? Will you be reading Lost in the Jungle? Let us know in the comments other cases of missing people that you’ll never forget.

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  • I have been following the case and have read everything I’ve been able to find since discovering this haunting story about a year ago. When I read about Lost in the Jungle being underway I felt excited. I will definately be reading it!!!

    October 31, 2021
  • I read the book since someone had the English version. I was surprised to find that the authors changed information in the English version from the Dutch version which the authors wrote over 20 pages trying to show us that there were two SD cards that Lisanne’s camera had. A very poor and lame attempt at coming up with a theory. The English version is missing these pages since it has only 1 SD card. How do you write such stuff and try to get delete it in the next version and get away with it?

    The book overall is poorly researched and written by two authors who have never set foot in Panama, and have never hiked the Pianista or any trails in Panama. There is no proper footnotes, sources or real evidence provided in the book to help us understand and separate fact from fiction. Instead we get the same stuff that many internet detectives already discovered, brilliantly exposed and debunked since 2014. These same detectives and also reporters are the ones that the authors condemn in their book. I expected the book to contain many aspects of the case that were not known and instead it comes off as hearsay.

    The claims by the authors to have solved the mystery of the missing Dutch women in Panama is even less founded on real evidence, but instead it is of their opinion guided by the bias of the Prosecutor Pitti who was fired from the case and has been a sour puss ever since she was condemn for messing up the entire investigation due to her lack of experience.

    It is very disappointing that the authors did not give an objective view of this case, instead of enlisting the help of the former prosecutor, Pitti, who herself was fired from the investigation due to her incompetence.

    The chapters that involve Pitti sound like she finally had a way to get her revenge at the people who did a better job than her in this case, but at the expense of Kris and Lisanne and their families since it is all about Pitti and her woes. The rest of the book looks like it was hastily put together by sourcing a lot of the internet detectives’ work which they cherry picked. The book also leaves out key suspects like the creepy guide who likes to jump in the Hot Springs with his female clients even though he had a wife and kids at the time of doing so.

    No real hard questions from either of these two authors who decided to take on such a big controversial case. Instead they write as if they received the case files from Pitti in exchange for her to be able to have a say in the book to get back against journalists like Adeliat Coriat and Jeremy Kryt who were critical of her work, and exposed her incompetence.

    Ultimately the book fails for me because the final theory of the girls getting lost in the jungle, (yes even the title tries so hard to convince us), is a very weak one based on the lack of proper evidence shown in the book. What we get is a lot of known information that seems like the authors plagiarized from Scarlet’s blog, Juan’s album, Imperfect Plan’s articles and many of the posts written on this case that anyone could find on Reddit, Websleuths and Fok forums. There is some new information, but nothing that is earth shattering or solves the case.

    If you are clueless about the case, then you can maybe read this book as a start, but if you want remain clueless, keep reading this book like many of the sycophants of this book and its authors do.

    Sadly, a very good opportunity to really dig in and take to task the prosecutor who screwed up the case was missed, as was the chance to really debunk and perhaps solve the case’s many missing or misconstrued aspects.

    I feel that the parents in the end continue to suffer because of poor attempts like this book at solving the case.

    Overall I give it 3 stars because of Scarlet’s blog, Juan’s album and Imperfect Plan’s super work (they even went to Panama recently to hike the trail, all the way to Bocas Del Toro coast) that provided the basis for a lot of the information in the book.

    November 27, 2021
  • The first thing that came to my mind from the photos is that they were trying to light their way in the dark with the flash from the camera. That’s why there are so many photos…

    December 2, 2021

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