Lisanne and Kris were on the holiday of a lifetime...
For ten days, search teams had scoured the dense, Panama rainforest. Dogs, helicopters, ground teams.
But not a single trace of the two missing women had been found.
There was nothing for it but to call off the search.
It seemed no one would ever know what had happened to Lisanne Froon, 22, and her best mate Kris Kremers, 21.
They were both students.
And they’d both saved up for ages for their trip to Panama.
It was to be the experience of a lifetime. They’d study Spanish, volunteer at a local charity and stay with a host family in the small town of Boquete, on the edge of Panama’s sprawling and vast rainforest.
A whole ten thousand kilometers from their home in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.
On 1 April 2014, they’d been in Boquete a fortnight.
First thing that morning, they had Spanish lessons.
Then, at 11am, Lisanne and Kris decided to go on a walk.
They’d take the Pianista trail, a path running along the edge of the rainforest.
It’s a path well-trod by tourists. An accessible way to see some of the rainforest within a safe distance of Boquete town.
Local guides arrange tours for visitors who like hiking, or who want to spot some of the region’s rare plants or even rarer birds.
It follows a winding river known to locals as the Serpent. And it wasn’t the kind of trail that’d be a problem for Lisanne. She loved extreme sports, had been mountaineering in the Alps many times before.
Anyway, it wouldn’t be a massive hike.
Both Lisanne and Kris wrote on Facebook before putting on their rucksacks and setting off that they were just going for a short walk.
But they never came home.
That night, Lisanne and Kris’ host family raised the alarm.
Local authorities launched an aerial search. Authorities in the Netherlands sent search and rescue teams, too.
Nothing was found of Lisanne or Kris.
And then, in June, two months after the search had been called off, a woman walked into a Boquete police station.
A Ngobe woman – one of Panama’s ancient indigenous peoples.
She’d found something while tending to her crops about five miles down the Serpent River from where the two women had last been seen.
Lisanne Froon’s rucksack.
It was covered in more than 30 unidentified fingerprints.
Inside the rucksack were Lisanne’s sunglasses, $83 cash, a water bottle, Lisanne’s digital camera, Lisanne’s Samsung Galaxy mobile phone, and Kris’s iPhone 4.
Mobile phone records showed someone had made several attempts to make calls from both handsets over a period of ten days from 1 to 11 April.
While rescue teams had still been looking for the missing women.
But out there in the rainforest, the signal was non-existant. None of the calls connected.
And then there was the camera.
On it, a hundred photos.
The first dozen or so were taken on the morning of the hike.
Selfies, mostly. The two young women beaming happily into the camera.
But after that, photo after photo of the jungle. Taken after dark and using a flash.
Piles of rocks, some from a distance, some close up. Twigs and branches decorated with plastic bags. Sweet wrappers arranged on top of a boulder. Sheets of toilet paper lain out across the earth.
Some of the photos were taken just seconds apart. Some, hours. And not a single person in any of the pictures…except for one.
A photo of Kris. A wound to the side of her head, blood on her skin, in her hair.
Investigators couldn’t tell if Kris was alive in the photos. Or dead.
They couldn’t understand why the photos had been taken.
Or by whom.
Someone else? If so, who?
Authorities launched another search of the area where they believed Lisanne and Kris may have gone missing.
This time, they made a chilling discovery.
A single walking boot. Identified as Lisanne’s.
And in that walking boot, a sock. And in that sock, the bones of Lisanne Froon’s left foot and ankle.
Scattered around were other tiny bone fragments. Some belonged to Kris.
The rest belonged to as many as three others.
Three unidentified others.
On a rock nearby, investigators found Kris’s stonewashed denim shorts.
The very pair she’d been wearing in the selfies taken on Lisanne’s camera.
They’d been zipped up and folded neatly.
Nothing else was found of Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers.
In the weeks after the discovery, Panama’s attorney general released a statement saying the two women must have had a hiking accident and their remains dragged out of the rainforest by the Serpent River.
Could they perhaps have got lost, and left Kris’s shorts, took those strange photos as a kind of Hansel and Gretel trail for whoever came looking for them?
It was possible. But not everyone agreed.
How, for instance, had Lisanne’s rucksack been washed five miles down the serpent river…and yet the electronics inside it remained undamaged?
When bodies decompose, they leak fats and grease. Why had nothing of the kind been found on the rucksack, or on the other items found in the rainforest?
What of the unidentified finger prints? The neatly folded shorts?
And if it were an accident, why haven’t more remains been found – big bones, skulls, things rainforest animals wouldn’t eat.
For some, Lisanne and Kris were the victims of a ferocious crime.
Ambushed, abducted, murdered. Their clothes and their remains hidden deeper in the rainforest or destroyed.
But if the pair had been ambushed, why hadn’t their attackers taken the $83 cash, the electronics?
No one knows what happened. Or who’s responsible.
A gang of criminals. Perhaps the jungle itself.
But while the search for Lisanne and Kris’s remains has been called off, the search for answers continues.