Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Death in Panama

Image Source: The Daily Beast.

There is an Internet sub-genre devoted to investigating what has happened to missing people. One of the most disturbing recent cases of this kind captured the attention of bloggers, Redditors, Youtubers, and forum members.

"Lisanne Froon, aged 22. Picture taken on April 1, [2014] the day of her disappearance. Cellphone data, found in their backpack, revealed that attempts to dial 911 were made some 2 hours after this photo was taken. There was no reception. The last attempt to dial 911 was 10 days after their disappearance." Image Source: imgur.

This was the case of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, two Dutch college graduates, aged 21 and 22. In March 2014, they traveled to Boquete, Panama for six weeks to learn Spanish and do volunteer work with local children. Then they disappeared during a day hike in the forest near the town.

At the time of writing this post, the debate on this case at the German forum, Allmystery, was nearly 600 pages long. One of the related Reddit threads is here. The police investigation focused on the girls' disappearance its effect on the local tourist industry. This post and a subsequent post will ask about the much larger context of this case, including the Panama Papers.

Image Source: Kris Kremers/Facebook/imgur.

Kris Kremers & Lisanne Froon; The Missing Girls of Panama (29 October 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

At The Daily Beast, Jeremy Kryt has covered this disturbing story for years. The DB initially concluded that the girls went hiking, took some photos (which you can see here), got lost and injured, and then fell victim to the environment, when one or both of them took some terrifying photos at night in the jungle.

In 2017, the Daily Beast revised that conclusion, after discovering that over two dozen people have been murdered under strange circumstances in Panama's western highlands. A local investigator confided to The Daily Beast's Kryt:
"The high-ranking examiner agrees to be interviewed only under the condition of anonymity, saying he has received death threats after discussing sensitive investigations in the past.

'That [Bocas] area is swarming with sicarios,' the IMELCF source says, referring to the cartel smuggling routes that link Panama’s porous eastern coastline with Colombia and Venezuela to the south, and Mexico to the north. 'There ought to be a national red alert for foreigners, and especially women,' he says. 'But of course that would be bad for tourism.' ...

The forensic anthropologist ... says the search for 'paradise' can also work as a touristic bait-and-switch—designed to keep foreign dollars rolling in at all costs, no matter the risks.

'Panama is a commercial port for the Sinaloa cartel and others, he says, and goes on to mention both forced prostitution and organ trafficking as other threats posed by organized crime operating on the isthmus.

Part of the problem is that publicizing such dangers could weaken the crucial influx of tourist money, which makes up almost 20 percent of Panama’s GDP."
Those comments imply that Froon and Kremers were murdered; but that information has been suppressed due to pressures from the Panamanian government, which wants to preserve its tourist industry.

My posts on this case are meant to shine light on the ways in which seemingly stable and prosperous parts of the world are connected to the less stable parts. See my related posts on how the profits from organized crime in Mexico and Naples are laundered in the City in London; the latest revelation of this type comes from the unfolding 1MDB scandal in Malaysia:
In the 2015 American film, Sicario ('Hitman'), the CIA covertly protects and influences the Latin American drug trade in various ways in order to control it. The film starts as a tale about the drug war on the US-Mexican border. But it hints that that border conflict is the tip of a global iceberg. There is much more at stake here than the politicized issues of cross-border crime or the humane care of Mexican immigrants to the United States.

Sicario Official Trailer #1 (2015) - Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro Movie HD (8 June 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Parts of the world are secure spheres where the rule of law supposedly exists, but those walled gardens are intimately connected to - and dependent on - realms of chaos, as the eponymous character in Sicario says:
"You should move to a small town, somewhere the rule of law still exists. You will not survive here. You are not a wolf, and this is a land of wolves now."

Sicario (11/11) Movie CLIP - A Land of Wolves (2015) HD (5 August 2016) © Lionsgate. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

However, the character in Sicario is wrong, because the lawful and lawless zones are one and the same. A 2016 BBC interview with a sicario below confirms that a violent world exists, which many inside sheltered, wealthy, stable, or democratic zones prefer not to consider or acknowledge. Even if they have a broader understanding, they still erect a mental barrier in their minds that the violence is 'far away' or 'over there.' And even if they are worldly and well-traveled enough to know better than that, their stance is still that of compartmentalization. There is still a quasi-imperialistic us-and-them perspective, as aid is administered to improve living conditions in chaotic regions.

Accept that this sicario is an intimate part of your world, that you already live in his land of the wolves, and you will find that you need to reappraise your whole reality. It does not matter if the democratic establishment's connections to organized crime are kept hidden or secret from the mainstream. Everything is connected and deep down, we all know it. Our dreams our built on nightmares. Things are wrong and they must change.

Cartel kidnapper: Mess with me? I'll kill you - BBC News (11 March 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

Thus, resolving lawlessness is not, as the UN and NGOs and similar organizations would have us believe, a question of benevolent, top-down policy-making. This is not about bringing democratic free values to chaotic areas, reducing crime, alleviating poverty, building dialogue, and introducing education, such that teams of well-meaning administrators and officials tinker with these troubled zones like so many lab experiments. The troubled zones are part of the whole original system and picture. They are symptomatic of something amiss in the model itself. There is something intrinsically wrong at the core. I discussed this possibility in my post, Mind and Government, Terror and Ideology: Reframed.

The More You Read, The Stranger It Gets

The Froon-Kremers case may be part of that holistic truth. This tragedy has become an online urban legend and the more you read, the more this story changes. The official narrative falls apart.

Because of the government's likely cover-up to protect the tourist industry, the official story probably has disinformation in it. The Internet has passed the story from person to person in a game of broken telephone.

That is why this case persists as a topic of conversation in social media. People know something is wrong with it, and they want to make sense of the mess. There are 3 to 5 different versions of every moment of the girls' timeline and in each account, the details change. For example, in one version, the girls were taken up the mountain on their final day by a taxi driver, who was murdered months after their disappearance. In another version, there is no taxi driver.

Worse, the story sounds exactly like a horror film script, even though this was a 'true story.' A film from 2009, Turistas (marketed as Paradise Lost in the UK) had a very similar plot. A 4 Chan comment:
"This is one of these cases that just get more bizarre and unexplainable [sic] the more you look into them. Forensic experts themselves have expressed doubt at the official version of things, which states that the girls just fell into some river and died."
De Bovenkamer listed several of the anomalies in the official story and commenters came up with interesting hypotheses. They suggested that the parents of the girls know more about what happened, but there was a deal that they remain silent.

The town Boquete is located in a valley next to an active volcano. The surrounding mountains are covered with jungle with several trails, used by tourists, locals, and indigenous people. In the 2014 case, Kremers and Froon disappeared while hiking in the jungle in the period between 1 and 11 April. Locals were questioned, as were two Dutch men who met them prior to their hike.

A graphic showing the timeline of the girls' disappearance. Click to enlarge. The site, De Bovenkamer, exhaustively broke down the girls' movements. Image Source: De Bovenkamer.

The Dutch girls had booked a guide to take them on a hike on 2 April. On 1 April, they were offered a hike and a stay in a jungle cabin by the (same?) guide, but they turned him down. Perhaps this creepy overture made them change their plans for the next day. They set out after lunch on 1 April.

Azul the dog made friends with other tourists in Boquete prior to the Dutch girls' disappearance. He belongs to the family who own the house where the girls stayed. The dog liked to follow tourists from the hostel up the walking trail, and he has appeared on one tourist's blog. Image Source: Chris and Dan's Panamanian Adventure.

Most accounts state that the girls took along the dog who belonged to the owners of the house where they were staying. Named Azul, he initially accompanied the girls, but returned home alone on the first night. Another version of the story states that they took a taxi:
"They took a taxi. They shared the taxi with 2 unknown men and the taxi driver himself. The taxi driver was found floating in a lake months after this all happened."
Within a few hours, they were in trouble. The girls' first attempt to call emergency services was from Kremers's phone, later that day at 4:39 p.m.; Froon tried to call emergency services just over ten minutes later, at 4:51 p.m. They used the Netherlands number 112, and later dialed Panama's emergency number 911. They tried to call for help until 3 April. After that, their phones were turned on periodically until 6 April. Then there was a five-day gap, and Kremers's iPhone was turned on on 11 April, by someone who did not know its access code.

This site shows the photos they took at the beginning of their hike, and the last photos they took before they first dialed emergency services.

One week later, the girls took 90 frightening photos at night over a three-hour period on 8 April 2014. Authorities claimed that 87 of these showed only total darkness. But other accounts claimed that the photographs did show something and appeared to be taken in a sequence, with a close-up, faraway shot, a shot at the sky, followed a repeated sequence in adjacent places in the same area. This seemed to be some kind of message. Part of the girls' photo roll can be seen here. Some online forum members guessed that one of these photos may show a body in a ravine.

One of the girls' night photos, taken at 1:38 a.m. on 8 April 2014. Redditors concluded that this photograph was not taken looking down, as it initially appears, but gazing up, indicating that the photographer had fallen down a cliff-like overhang. One Redditor commented: "Thinking about their mindsets as they were taking those night pictures are what nightmares are made of." Image Source: La Estrella de Panamá.

De Bovenkamer's readers guessed that the girls never got lost at all. Rather, they reached the top of the mountain, the main tourist spot, turned around, and on return ran into people who abducted them.

This hypothesis suggests that the night photos were taken by the girls' killers, who also made the failed emergency cell phone calls. This would make it look as though the girls survived much longer than they actually did. Evidence discovered later was planted in the wilderness in a confusing way, to muddle the investigation.

An estimated graphic of where the bones, foot, Froon's backpack, electonics, and clothing were found - spread across long hiking distances. Image Source: Allmystery.

Another diagram of where the evidence was found. Click to enlarge. Image Source: Allmystery.

The authorities concluded that the girls were injured (one photo, which has only been revealed on Dutch TV, from 8 April 2014 at 3:54 a.m. showed Kremers with blood on her head) and succumbed in the wilderness.

Ten weeks later, Froon's backpack was discovered, placed by the bank of the Serpent River, one day's journey away from where they disappeared. The backpack contained the girls' phones, camera, bras, cash, a passport, and half a bottle of water; the bag seemed to have been kept inside, since it was clean and dry and untouched by the elements.

There is an official story of what happened, and an unofficial story. Officially, Kremers's shorts were found zipped and folded on a rock; unofficially, they were discovered in the water near a monkey bridge.

Subsequent evidence indicated murder, including over two dozen bone fragments, Kremers's pelvis and one rib bone, and a boot with Froon's severed and broken foot still inside. There was no sign of animal scavenging. Kremers's bones had been bleached, possibly with lye, which is a corpse disposal method used by Mexican drug cartels.

The Canine Witness

A photo circulated online of the local dog named Azul. The dog is said to have accompanied the girls on their first day hiking and returned home that night, alone. Image Source: Mostly Mystery.

But perhaps the dog, Azul, who departed in the girls' company, provides a clue as to whether the girls got lost in the jungle and succumbed to the environment, or whether they were murdered. Online sleuths focus on what the dog did; if you believe his owners, he left with the girls and returned home on the first evening. But online commenters don't consider what Azul did not do.

The dog is possibly a witness to a crime. There is a famous line in an 1892 Sherlock Holmes story about this: "the dog did nothing in the night-time." In the story, a crime is committed in the presence of a dog. The fact that the dog does not respond means that the crime is committed by someone known to the dog.

This important story from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about canine behaviour encouraged the police to begin using dogs to help them solve crimes. Several Sherlock Holmes stories described the first use dogs in detective work and modern forensics.

In the context of the Dutch girls' deaths, Azul's behaviour means something more. He did not stay with the girls. Logically, they would have kept him with them; or he would have remained with them, especially if they were in distress. The fact that he abandoned them means that he was separated from them physically on the first day, possibly because they were taken into a building and he was left outside.

Or perhaps the girls took a taxi to go on their hike, and the dog never left with them at all. The Daily Beast interviewed an investigator in the Panamanian case:
"'Whoever did this is very smart. He didn’t leave much evidence. And he won’t be easy to catch,' the IMELCF scientist adds. In his view, Panamanian prosecutors have given up on the case—despite their own investigators’ suspicions of foul play—in order to save face."
In my next post on this topic, I'll summarize some of the other murder cases and disappearances in the area and consider their larger context.

Local photo from the search for the missing girls. Image Source: BBC via Mostly Mystery.


  1. Although your article is mostly accurate, the biggest inaccuracy is that the dog was from the place where the girls were staying. Not true at all. Azul belonged to the owners of il Pianista, the restaurant at the head of the trail. The dutch girls were staying at Spanish by the River, which is actually in Alto Boquete, which is nowhere near the trail. I still live in Boquete, and was part of the initial search and rescue that was conducted by local guides and volunteers. All of that aside, many of us don't believe the official account of the story, and suspect foul play. The son of the owners of the restaurant Il Pianista (at the head of the Pianista trail) frequents Bocas del Toro, where there have also been murders. He was overheard saying some odd things about how he had met the Dutch girls the day before they set out on a hike. He was drunk at the time, and he's a "smooth talker" when it comes to tourists, especially women. To our knowledge, he was never investigated, and the fact he works and lives most of the year at the base of the tralt is reason enough that he should have been questioned, at the very least.

    1. Thanks for the corrections, Anon. This is the first of two posts on this topic. I'll add your comment to the next post, which concerns other cases and their larger context.


  2. Great post and information on this case! I did a lot of research in this case also (I'm Dutch) and keep hitting my head against inconsistencies with both the Lost theory ánd the Foul Play theory. Both scenario's just don't make fully sense. The missing photo 509, the absence of skulls, skeletons, the bleached bones with phosphates on them from Kris, the dry and intact backpack with dry and functioning phones and camera, the folded up bra's and jeans shorts, the many finger prints and DNA on these items. The undamaged cheap sunglasses in the back (which more or less exclude a fall from 30 or 40 meters). The absence of any videos, any words of what happened despite having a digital camera with more than enough battery life and memory card space (the battery was still half full when investigators found it 10 weeks later). No more photos of themselves or where they were for 8 long days. Then nighttime photos that are completely vague while they could have waited a few more hours and the sun would have been up. Perhaps they used the flash to sign search parties?

    Something else that most sites and videos about this case seem to bypass is that Lisanne was asthmatic and had been coughing and flaring quite bad the day itself and the days prior, according to her host family. So why push yourself up a mountain.... and then some more hours further? Voluntarily? Anyway, I gathered a lot more info, facts and many more photos of the girls and of their Panama holiday in a very extensive blog post called: Scarlet Letters; 'The disappearance of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon in Panama, Boquete 2014 - an ongoing mystery.' Check it out if you had not yet enough of this case.

    1. Thanks Scarlet Nat, your post is here http://scarletnat.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-disappearance-of-kris-kremers-and.html

      I'm sure my readers will be interested. I find that people tend to be divided in how they view this case. They either see it as a simple lost hikers tragedy or they view it as part of something larger. I'm afraid my instincts tell me it is the latter. I will follow up in a later post on this topic and include a link to your blog there too.

    2. Thanks, that is lovely! Feel free to use whatever you see fit from it too, I use as many links to facts as possible. But it is a large swamp of a case, I agree. Am working my way through all the earliest Dutch newspaper interviews with local police and witnesses and such, and the amount of constantly changing 'facts' and scenario's is staggering. One guide gives no less than 4 different statements about whether or not he saw the two girls prior to their hike, and whether or not he started looking for them on his own early on or not. I also found just the other day police statements that the girls' phones were running half empty, battery wise, at the start of their hike already, yet one made it all the way til April 11th. Again, totally illogical. There is CCTV image of the girls on April 1st near a supermarket in Boquete, but police never released the image nor told anyone at what time they were recorded. Which is vital really in determining how early or late they started their hike. The digital camera said around 11 AM but witnesses and the taxi driver stated around 13:45 PM. making the room for error after their summit walk much smaller. Anyway, it is a mess this entire case. Looking forward to reading your follow up, thanks so much.

    3. Scarlet Nat, that is incredible - so disturbing. I feel so, so sorry for the two girls. Their deaths are the stuff of nightmares. My gut reaction is that there is something horribly wrong with the entire case. You can *feel* the lies. My approach for the follow up is to connect it to the Panama Papers as well as other mysterious deaths in the area.

  3. Did the girls eat at the Il Pianista restaurant before their hike? I have been trying to locate that information and cant seem to find it. Also, was the taxi driver and potential guide related? I noticed they have the same last name?? Thank you so much! This case has been haunting me since I read about it.

  4. Biggest sack of lies I´ve ever heard. Organ traffickers ans Sinaloa cartel. What´s next, aliens in Panama?

  5. The only "sicarios" and other cartel people exist only in the writer´s mind. Very irresponsable

  6. People like to believe and disbelieve what they want to (categorically) often in the face of available evidence. Yes two hikers could injure themselves and die in the jungle in a place like Panama but so too could they have been murdered there. I think evidence of recovered remains and items make murder the most likely. Why did Lisanne suddenly start taking trail photos of Kris after passing the summit? Why not on the way up? Only one or two at the top, their intended destination. Perhaps someone accompanying them after that point was taking the photos. Why? To create a record that they had strayed further than recommended. The predawn night photos could likely have been an escape attempt made days later while search efforts (that wouldve been known to them) were underway.I believe they were murdered within 24 hours after those photos were taken because their captor/s were afraid of discovery. They had been captive but alive until then.