This is a brief analysis of the backpack and the backpack’s contents, which were discovered by search teams after Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon disappeared in Panama in 2014. The discovery of these items were an important part of the investigation into their disappearance.
If you’re new to the case, please consider reading the main introductory article: Unsolved: Kris Kremers And Lisanne Froon In Panama (FULL STORY)
Unfortunately, the case was never investigated thoroughly, nor was the public informed about very much about the case… until recently. More information has been disclosed about the case in the last 6 months than in the past 7 years combined.
This article was written by Matt, whom previously wrote about the night photos, the Mirador photos, and a forensic analysis of the phone usage data. Matt has worked closely with myself and Romain in order to find new information and move the case forward. Romain also published an article with his own analysis of the backpack contents: LE CONTENU DU SAC À DOS (French)
Here are Matt’s findings.
This article is based on official data that was made available to me by an anonymous source. Here I’ll discuss the backpack that is seen in the day photos, from the time it was found until it was forensically examined.
Please note that some information is being withheld by the author to protect the privacy of people involved. Where this is done it is marked with “(withheld)”. Also, the name of the person who found the backpack is changed to protect their privacy.
The backpack was found on June 11, 2014 by the Culebra river in the district of Valle Risco, community of Alto Romero, roughly 10-15 km north of the Mirador. It was found by Jane Doe (name withheld for privacy reasons) who went to the river to take a bath. She noticed the backpack within some driftwood at the shore of the river near huge boulders and decided to investigate it. Upon opening she discovered that the backpack contained cell phones, a camera, and other items.
It was the first time in a long time she had gone to the river to wash as she usually uses a creek closer to her residence. Therefore, it is not known for how long the backpack could have been in this location. Upon notifying her husband about her discovery, they called the authorities who came to inspect the findings the next day.
The backpack is described as a Burton brand backpack with light blue straps, black accents, and a blue and purple pattern.
The following items were found inside the backpack:
- One black and dark gray Samsung camera with battery (Note by Author: this is an error and means “Canon” as the author confirmed on pictures that the camera shown matches the Canon SX270HS)
- One 16 GB memory card
- One black camera case
- One white Samsung cell phone with battery but no SIM card and no memory card and a light blue cover, some money was kept under the case, IMEI# (withheld) (Note by Author: the cover is also reported as green)
- One black iPhone with red cover, IMEI# (withheld)
- One black bra
- One flower pattern bra
- One pair of pink rectangular sunglasses, not worn or damaged
- One pair of black round sunglasses, not worn or damaged
- One key with a blue key chain
- One small personal item (withheld)
- A card stating name L. Froon, date xx/xx/xx (withheld), customer number xxxxxx (withheld)
- A total of $88.30 USD
- One snail
- One small (sea) shell
Note that pictures of the content of the backpack show a water bottle, a water bottle is however not listed as official content.
In other official data it is reported that there was also a small combination padlock in the backpack. It is noteworthy that no SIM card was reported to be in the Samsung phone as later on there is a SIM card related to this phone. It is possible that this is an oversight of the person taking the inventory just as the brand of the Camera seems to have been recorded incorrectly.
Canon SX270 HS
It is not known if the camera was still functional after it was found. However, on photos of the camera that the author has seen, it does not appear damaged. The SD card was accessible which is not uncommon since digital flash media can survive in water, especially fresh water for long periods of time.
It is not known if the phone was still functional, however it was possible to take an image of its permanent memory. On photos of the phone that the author has seen, it does not appear damaged.
Samsung Galaxy S3
It is not known if the phone was still functional, however it was possible to take an image of its permanent memory. On photos of the phone that the author has seen, it does not appear damaged.
Backpack Forensic Analysis
Analysis for physical damage
The backpack was found in good general condition, but is dirty and contains several damages, which are listed below.
- The attachment of one of the straps is partly loose.
- The plastic closures contain deep scratches
- The textile parts show signs of discoloration in various places.
- A rectangular piece of the fabric (approx. 30×15 mm) at the top right corner is missing. The edges of this damage are straight; they contain frayed fabric ends.
- A straight tear immediately adjacent to damage 4.
This damage is approximately 10 mm long and contains straight fabric ends on one side and on the
other side the fabric ends are frayed. The fabric is discolored near this damage (as described in damage
Interpretation and conclusion
Damage 1 involves a loosened seam. The simplest explanation for this damage is loosening of the seam. The nature of this loosening cannot be determined, and it may not have been caused by a great force. Possibly the seam was weak due to a manufacturing defect and the damage occurred due to normal use.
Damages 2 and 3 both indicate physical wear. The scratches in the plastic seem to be caused by the fasteners being rubbed along something. The white discoloration of the fabric can be explained by abrasion. The color of the backpack is applied as a print and only the surface of the fabric is colored.
The underlying fabric is white and physical wear can remove the superficial color layer and then decolorize portions of the backpack. The fabric ends in damage 4 are frayed. The fabric ends on one side of on one side of damage 5 are straight while the fabric ends on the other side are frayed.
Tearing of textiles often leads to frayed fabric ends; cutting or piercing often leads to straight fabric ends. However, it is possible that straight fabric ends, created by stitching or cutting, become frayed through subsequent wear. In doing so it becomes difficult to recognize a damage caused by a sharp edge.
It is concluded that damage 5 was caused by a sharp edge. Damage 5 is located near and parallel to a seam. The straight fabric ends are located on the side of the seam and may have been shielded from external influence by the seam and thus remained intact. The fabric ends on the other side of the damage are frayed, probably because they were less protected by the seam.
The straight fabric ends found in damage 5 show that it was created by a sharp edge. It is not possible to derive additional information regarding this sharp edge from the characteristics of the damage. In this damage, material based on polyester urethane was found. This material is frequently found as foam or elastomer. The origin of this material is unknown.
Damage 4 is located near damage 5. This gives the impression that both damages are related to each other. However, damage 5 shows that straight edges can become frayed. Therefore, the possibility that damage 4 was also caused by a sharp edge cannot be excluded.
In damage 4 a piece of the textile is missing. This too can be explained by tearing or by the effect of a sharp edge. Damage 4 can be explained by both tears and by the effect of a sharp edge. Although the damage on the backpack (scratches and abrasion) is consistent with travelling in a river and rocks, however the damage is very light and probably not consistent with a travel of many kilometers in a wild river.
Backpack DNA Analysis
A total of 13 DNA samples were taken of the straps, zippers, and edges of the backpack. Out of the 13 samples, DNA was only found in three of the samples:
DNA main profile: Female A
DNA side characteristics: At least one unknown person, at least one of whom is male
DNA profile: Female B
DNA Mix Profile: At least two unknown persons, at least one of whom is male
The fact that the backpack was outside for an unknown amount of time time and in the water made obtaining meaningful DNA evidence difficult. No DNA match for the samples could be obtained from criminal DNA databases. The DNA samples did also not match the DNA of Kris and Lisanne.
The DNA from Kris and Lisanne would have been on the backpack at some point but was no longer present when the DNA samples were taken after the backpack was found. It is likely that their DNA was washed off in the water. If their DNA washed off, then also the DNA of anybody who potentially handled the backpack before it went in the water would have been washed off.
There was confirmed DNA of two females and one male and possible more DNA profiles on the backpack. It should be expected that the DNA of Jane Doe and her husband was on the backpack, which explains one female and one male DNA. However, there is still the DNA of one additional female and potentially the DNA of more people. This is not a concern as the backpack was further touched by the (male) police officer who collected it and other persons in the chain of custody before being tested.
The DNA analysis should not be overvalued as the DNA found is most likely from the persons who found and handled the backpack after its discovery.
The following biological specimen were found in or on the backpack:
- Brown leaf fragments (inside)
- Green fragments of plants (inside)
The following soil specimen were found in or on the backpack:
- Loose sand (inside)
- Yellowish brown clay at ends of webbing straps (outside)
The following specimen were found in or on the backpack:
- One white fragment of a (sea) shell (inside)
- Translucent plastic fragments (inside)
There is nothing out of the ordinary. Leaves and pieces of plants, as well as sand and clay, should be expected to be on the backpack since the backpack spent time outside, in the water and on the river bed. The shell fragment has likely still been there from a previous unrelated visit to a beach and the plastic fragments could be packaging or other residue from foods or snacks that were in the backpack before.
One question that should be considered is how the backpack could travel from its last known location on the Mirador to the location where it was found.
For this there are two possibilities:
1. By Land
For this it is not considered that Kris and Lisanne could have walked to Alto Romeo and lost the backpack there. This would only leave a 3 rd party who would have had to have backpack in their possession and dropped it onto the shore of the river.
This requires a motive, which could be:
- Someone found the backpack somewhere and wanted to get rid of it without becoming involved in a police investigation. This would seem unlikely as it would be easy enough to just let it disappear.
- Someone wanted it to be found without raising suspicion and placed it in this location. This would be an odd choice as the likelihood of it being found by chance were small.
2. By Water
For the backpack to travel to the location where it was found from the Mirador would first require it to be in the water and then then travel 10 – 15 km by river to the location where it was found. It cannot be excluded that Kris and Lisanne travelled further north on foot and the backpack had to travel less far in the water to arrive at the location where it was found.
Either way a prerequisite for it to travel by water would be that it enters the water first, which could happen in several ways:
- It was inadvertently dropped in the water, this could have happened if Kris and Lisanne crossed a monkey bridge or river on foot and either stumbled or lost hold on the backpack. This is not very likely as it would be reasonable to assume the backpack was carried on either of their backs and then could not just fall off.
- Whoever carried it fell into the water and the backpack floated free. This is possible if someone walked in a river or crossed a river and fell into the water and didn’t wear the backpack strapped on their back and the backpack floated away.
- It was intentionally thrown into the river. It is not likely that Kris or Lisanne did this as it contained their cell phones which they needed to call for help. It could be that a 3rd party found the backpack and threw it in the river to dispose of it as trash. However, this is not likely as such person might at least have taken the money from it.
- It was left unattended at the shore of the river because it was lost or abandoned and when the water levels in the river raised, it was carried away. Of all options this is probably the most likely one.
One question that remains is if a backpack can travel in a river that is said to disintegrate what falls into it and arrive with almost no damage to itself or its content several kilometer down stream. If it had travelled so far in the water, one would think that the electronics inside would have been damaged. The backpack also potentially travelled surprisingly far, while items that float on a river are likely wash up on the shore.
I send a big “thank you” to Matt for his excellent research and analysis into this retrieving this information and making it available to the public. This is excellent work.
If you have any questions about his work, you can contact Matt directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to all of our readers!
Please note: Our team is committed to accuracy of information and respecting the privacy of those involved with this disappearance case. If you have any supplementary information regarding the case, or if you were involved in this case and feel that the information available in this article impacts your privacy, please contact our team.
Hey, thanks for the great work again. I’m thinking the Samsung phone with no sim could indicate Lisanne attempted to use her own sim on Kris’s phone. Perhaps this is why she turned the iPhone on after days of no use. But anyone who’s tried to get the sim out of an iPhone without the needed tool or a paper clip knows it’s easier said than done. Definitely not a tool they would have handy in the jungle. Something that perhaps speaks against this hypothesis is that both phones were found with the covers on, which would mean that Lisanne put the covers back on on both phones, but discarded of her sim card (or it fell somewhere and she could no longer find it). Discarding of the sim sounds like something people usually wouldn’t do, but perhaps after days in the jungle she couldn’t think straight anymore. Just my two cents.
I wonder what the “personal item” was that was omitted from description…
Maybe a tampon
Que excelentes artículos. Este caso me intriga mucho y he leído muchas cosas y he visto bastantes videos. Mi conclusión es que estas chicas fueron secuestradas y posteriormente asesinadas. El bolso y los restos mortales fueron puestos por un tercero, esto lo afirmo por la distribución como se encontraron los mismos.
Biological traces: what does the police file say about the snail specimen found in the backpack?
What kind of snail was it: marine, land or sweet water snail?
What is that snail’s habitat?
Is the snail known to be part of the fauna of Río Changuinola?
Where was the backpack found in relation to the 33 bone fragments found of which 28 or so belonged to Kris and Lisanne, and the others were unidentified (allegedly belonging to an ancient burial plot)/ Have any old burial plots ever been located or known to be in the area? Also if the backpack was found kilometres apart from the bones then it must suggest it was physically moved. However if the backpack followed the path of the bones (remains) then it’s logical to assume the backpack fell where the girl or girls succumbed to their injuries or elements.
I also have an important question… I didn’t see this anywhere (yet?!)… At what point would the girls have reached this river if they had just kept walking on this trail? Because they called 112 at 4:39 p.m., and the last photo was taken at 1:54 p.m. (about 40 minutes after passing the Mirador). So an emergency occurred about 3.5 hours after the Mirador. Is it possible to reach that river in any way in 3 h 30?
All accounts i have read or watched have said it is not possible to reach the river monkey bridges before the first call is made. Not even close. The parents walked the trail and were in a video called “answers for kris.” On that hike there appeared to be nowhere to get lost or fall off, up to the assumed time of the emergency call. Further, knowing the time of day and hours of daylight, it‘s unlikely that 2 smart women with no supplies would not have turned back sooner on an out-and-back trail, under normal conditions. That is the key to this puzzle. If it can be shown for certain that there is nowhere to get lost or fall off trail to end up in the river, then it‘s not an accidental situation, and the bag was likely placed there. Some have speculated there was an injury on the trail and panicked decisions to look for shortcuts, which got them into deeper trouble. I don‘t buy it. I have a couple Q‘s about the bras in the bag: were the straps missing on them as some have said? And were they analyzed to determine how long they were worn, if there was any trace of skin breakdown or fungal infection from a week in that environment? There is no evidence in the bag that they were trying to survive, other than water bottle they started with. If straps are missing i could at least think okay maybe they tried to use something they had to get fire, food or first aid. Also i wonder how many in the search groups had accidents, fell off cliffs, or encountered large predators the entire time they were out there.
Great work… but why this uge possibility isn’t there : A 3rd party had the bag in his possession since April and decided to dispose of it in the river?
If they accidentally dropped the bag into the river, or fell in and it floated off, their bras wouldn’t be in the bag.
Combine this with the fact that Lisanne’s shoe was found with her foot in it… This also rules out that they went “skinny dipping” and left the backpack with their phones, bras etc. on the shore, because they would have also taken off their shoes.
Given just these two facts, misadventure is ruled out I think, the only possible explanation is that a 3rd party placed their bag in the river. But again, the bras. In fact, I would like to see probability analysis from you about how their bras ended up in the backpack. Unfortunately to me, the only possible scenario seems to be that the same 3rd party who put the backpack in the river, also removed the bras from their bodies…..
What is not in the bag: improvised tools, evidence of attempted gathered food, the improvised signal mirror from night photos
Was there any fingerprint lifted from the camera button?
When the straps are light blue with black then we have some evidence that there is a night foto with a trace of something that did not belong to the lady’s.
I agree with the rising level of water carrying the bag away. The fact that there was money in it argues against foul play in a country where that money and also an iphone4 in 2014 would be highly valuable.
What makes sense is that both were injured on 01 April, one more badly than the other but both in a very serious predicament. If Kremers had a pelvic fracture evident on the bone found, then this suggests serious multitrauma and shock could expect to set in as some point. It would also be near impossible for this person to move.
Note the Galaxy 3 was left on overnight 02 April. This suggests Froon was making an all out effort to get reception or perhaps using the light of the screen at some level to provide illumination or both.
Things were becoming grimmer as the weather app has been used as well as attempts to use other unspecified applications.
By 05 April either Kremers may be unconscious or deceased. The reason for considering this is Kremers iphone SIM pin was not used from point onwards but the phone was unlocked. It seems likely Kremers did not disclose the SIM PIN and as both were friends, an oversight.
Why no apparent attempt was made by either phone to text or email is less clear. It may be both had upper limb/wrist/hand fractures, eg the Colles type of the radius commonly sustained in falling forwards with the outstretched hand.
This might more speculatively explain some of the erratic camera action, as the function of the hands may have been impaired. It might explain the close up picture of Kremers hair, ie accidental.
Dehydration will kill in 3 days. 3 weeks is possible without food but considering the harsh environmental circumstances and likely major injuries, foreseeably less.
After they passed away at some point their bodies, like the bag entered rising water. As some of the photos were of this water and clearly there are droplets in the air, there may have been great concern this was going to happen soon, in the middle of the night when the long series of photos were taken with the camera. An alternative is drowning.
Either way, misadventure. A sad end to 2 young lives in the bloom of youth and by the looks of things, really nice people to boot.
I came to this site looking for info on El Salvador after proposals to make BTC legal as currency and 3BTC = permanent residency, then found myself drawn into this tragic mystery.
Thanks for all your efforts Chris. I can imagine how much effort you provide to your US clients for their software solutions.
Kris Kremers was not dead at the 5th… On the 8th her face can be seen looking up in the sky and also her hair.
The face that could also have been Lisannes? There’s a blog which shows it could have been her jawline from behind and also her cheek from in front. Or an elbow. Secondly, Kremers’ hair being in the photo does not mean she was alive.
So the Samsung phone was without the memory card and it was found separately? Could be significant.
Smart thinking, but could have taken out for investigation and not placed back.
Chris, amazing articles!
and what is your opinion of the idea that the hair of Kris was a cut-off piece from other photo of previous days? I saw it on one of the link’s from Juan’s album. Is it a fake? here is this link, just for your reference, you may delete if inappropriate:
If you compare the original “day” photo with the “night” photo of the hair and the one with the highlighted area, available at the link you provided, you may notice that the first two have nothing whatsoever in common, whereas in the third one the highlighted area is actually an overlay of the two, perhaps, created intentionally to make it look a bit like both. This becomes evident if you just study attentively certain details in all three of the images, like the position of the locks, the general state of the hair (in the “night” photo it is clearly a mess without any bun) and the patch of skin visible only in the “night” photo. By the way, the skin looks pink (to me, at least, it does), just like the skin of such a fair-skinned (living) person should look like under intense light.
Este caso faz- me lembrar um filme que vi há uns anos- não me recordo o nome- ,em que uma simpática familia faz um passeio à montanha e conhece uma pessoa que inicialmente era muito amável e prestável e com o tempo foram se apercebendo ,pelas atitudes estranhas ,que era uma pessoa maléfica.
Penso que foram de alguma forma sequestradas,daí as chamadas de ajuda serem tão limitadas.Estariam reféns e amedrontadas,tentando sobreviver aos seus captores, e todos os seus gestos seriam cuidadosos para que os captores não entendessem.
Penso que os principais culpados estão mortos,daí a sensação de justiça sentida pela familia e não quererem mais falar no assunto.
Por outro lado,as Autoridades Panamenhas,estão mais preocupadas com o Turismo.
Sinto muito o que aconteceu!Fiquei muito impressionada e como mãe de uma jovem da mesma idade,nao imagino semelhante dor.
Pobres jovens!Devem ter sofrido horrores
The photo in this link, sadly, is manipulated (shame on you, Toni B.). It shows the night photo put on top of another day photo, BUT the day photo is retouched and has additional flocks of hair added to make it look like it the night photo was cropped from it. This is false.
Here are the original photos:
As you can see, this is the same photo, but the additional flocks/cowlicks are not there.
This is a great website! So much thorough work.
I also wonder about the fingerprints, how long does fingerprints really last, as in would someones touch on a crowded bus some days before also still be there?
A question is also if the guide Feliciano or other people were tested for fingerprint or if it was only compared to registered criminals?
There is a problem with fingerprints and dna with regard to the guides. That is, they were involved in the search and may have handled the evidence. Ideally, when evidence is located, it should be untouched, and the whole scene guarded until it can be carefully observed, documented, photographed, collected, and enter a chain of custody, untouched by anyone but the women or their attacker. That said, it seems guides are licensed in panama. In the u.s. when professions are licensed, states may require fingerprinting and passport photos. Interested to learn if panama does that with guides. What i would like to know is how and when the woman who found the bag learned about the reward money. They appeared upset on a “lost in the wild” interview, that they didn‘t get the reward. She was located remotely in an indigenous village. Did the guides notify them there was a reward if they find anything? Was it government? Media? Was it the perpetrator? Secondly, on 1 april, what were the whereabouts and alibis of the tourguides and the male who allegedly made comments when drunk? And do any of them have access to a home, cabin, or other structure past the mirador? The kremers family seem intelligent and had smart, experienced people around them. They did not overlook the tour guides, and i will assume they played a role observing the guides and the dog at the crime scene on the day the family walked the pianista trail.
Great work! Finally some insight into the backpack.
Did you account for rainfall in the area that could have caused it to become wet and wash off 3rd party fingerprints? Could rainfall contain some acidity and along with sunlight discolor the backpack in some way?
What about the holes in the backpack? Wouldn’t they have sunk the backpack in that journey across rapids and bending river?
And from what I recall on Burton backpacks, they are generally water resistant not waterproof right? Does that make a difference in how well it floated?
No damage to the camera, sunglasses and phones. How did the bag float and not hit any rocks on the way or become submerged especially if there was no water bottle to help float it?
So much was made of the water bottle, but somehow never made into the evidence list or maybe it was the photographer’s bottle of water and he/she forgot to take it out of frame. 🙂
I wonder why the couple said in the news reports and in the lost in the wild documentary that they handed the backpack to the cattle rancher.
Overall, seems like a very poorly conducted investigation on the part of the Panamanian authorities or maybe like some of your other cases, they know how to cover things up in their own way.
Glad you guys are looking into this at least. Thanks.