A disturbing set of photographs are at the center of a mystery of the disappearance and death of two young women in Panama and local authorities are currently bewildered by a conspicuously missing photo file on their SD card.
In 2014 Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, both from the Netherlands were traveling and exploring the Central American country of Panama.
On April 1, the 21-year-old and 22-year-old went for a walk through the scenic forests around the Baru Volcano in Boquete. Both were never seen again, The Sun reports.
After the alarm was raised on April 2, a search party was sent to look for them but nothing was found until ten weeks later when a local woman who found Froon’s blue backpack turned it in to authorities.
The bag contained her camera as well as two pairs of sunglasses, $83 in cash, Froon’s passport, a water bottle, two bras, and both women’s phones. The phones showed that just hours after the beginning of their hike, someone dialed 112 and then 911. None of the calls ever got through due to a lack of a signal.
Subsequent analysis revealed that on April 4, Froon’s phone battery became exhausted, but between April 5 and April 11, Kremer’s iPhone was turned on multiple times but whoever turned it on didn’t enter the PIN code correctly.
Two months after the backpack was found, a pelvic bone and foot — still inside a boot — were discovered in the same area, according to La Estrella de Panama. Full remains were found soon afterward and were assumed to be the two missing women.
Froon’s bones appeared as if they had decomposed naturally, but Kremers’s bones were mysteriously stark white as if they had been bleached, raising questions about whether someone had been involved in their deaths.
Froon had a Canon Powershot SX270 HS which contained numerous photos, many of which were of the period of time leading up to the day of the girls’ disappearance. These were standard vacation photos that two young women would take while traveling.
There are shots of them exploring the jungle on April 1 which appear to show that all is well. Then there are no images until April 8, when 90 unsettling nighttime pictures were taken with flash in the middle of the jungle with timestamps between 1:00 and 4:00 AM.
Most of the pictures taken on April 8 are of complete darkness while some show the jungle floor, but two pictures are alarming: one is a picture of some of the girls’ belongings on a rock, and the other shows the back of Kremers’s head with what appears to be a bloodstain in her hair.
The point-and-shoot camera numbers its files in ascending order, the way most digital cameras do. When the Canon Powershot was recovered by Dutch authorites, there was a conspicuous missing file: IMG_0509. This is significant because image 508 was the last photograph of them where they weren’t in any trouble. However, image 510 was taken on April 8, in the darkness of the jungle.
The Missing File
The Canon Powershot SX270 HS, has two methods of numbering images. “Auto Reset” and “Continuous.” This is relevant because if the camera was on “Auto Reset” and 509 was deleted before 510 was taken, then the camera would use image 509 again.
However, if “Continuous” mode was in use then even if 509 was deleted, the next image will be 510. Unfortunately, this camera setting is not public knowledge, but the default mode is “Continuous.”
Why IMG_0509 is missing, which could be a crucial piece of evidence, is an enigma. The camera could have malfunctioned but this seem highly unlikely. More probable is that the picture was deleted.
If a picture is deleted from a camera, it’s still possible to retrieve it. Dutch investigators attempted to recover the file but didn’t manage to retrieve any data, which suggests that the camera was plugged into a computer and the file was deleted rather than deleted from the camera.
Most fingers seem to point to the Panama authorities, who have also been blamed for a poor initial search in the immediate days after the disappearance. Some suggest that they could they have seen something that they didn’t want the rest of the world to see. It is also possible that an unknown person, possibly the one responsible for the girls’ deaths, deleted the file for some reason but not the others on the card with a laptop in the middle of the jungle.
The causes of Kremers’s and Froon’s tragic death have never been determined and the two bodies that were recovered have not even been conclusively found to be either of the girls. Dutch authors Marja West and Jürgen Snoeren claim they have solved the mystery in their book Lost in The Jungle.
After taking a deep dive into all the evidence and flying out to Panama to do their own investigation, the pair concluded that the girls’ deaths were an accident.
“It actually came as a surprise to us too, but our conclusion had to be that it was an accident. It took us quite some time to get there,” the authors explain to The Daily Beast.
Snoeren and West believe that flash floods, which are typical to that area, would make strategically placing items impossible.
“With all that I’m reading now in the police file, it couldn’t be anything else… there was a certain sequence and timing to it, that had to be caused by the flash floods, typical to the region and season.”
The mystery remains unsolved.