Backpack may give clues to finding Dutch women

A backpack holding key possessions from two Dutch women who went missing nearly three months ago in Panama may give investigators clearer insight into their mysterious disappearance. Panamanian police are examining a pair of cell phones, an insurance card and a digital camera belonging to Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers that were in the bag.

Nikki van Passel, a press representative for the women’s search fund, said police are checking the camera and the phones’ data history and call logs to track down any possible suspects or leads that they don’t yet know.  Authorities found the backpack high in the mountainous region near Boquete, where the two were last seen. The bag was spotted in a bush near a river recently flooded by extreme rains.

Ms. Froon and Ms. Kremers were reported missing April 1 after last being seen at the beginning of a trailhead leading into the jungle. Ms. Passel said it is unlikely the women would have hiked far into the jungle as it was late afternoon and they booked a trail guide for the next day.

“No one has seen them going up and no one has seen them coming down,” said Ms. Passel via a telephone conversation from Holland. “They have always been very responsible, and they didn’t have any hiking gear. We don’t think that they had actually gone on that trail.”

Bastiaan Engelhard, the first secretary of the Dutch embassy here, said they continue to work with the embassy in Panamá as needed and have asked the Judicial Investigating Organization to publish pictures of the women’s faces.

A few weeks ago Costa Rican Cruz Roja workers went into the mountains by Boquete to help with search efforts. The village is a two-hour drive from the Costa Rica-Panamá border.

Engelhard said there is no indication the lost pair could be in Costa Rica territory, but the embassy is remaining active in providing support.

“We’re talking almost three months that they’ve  missingwomen051814been missing, so we need to stay creative in our efforts,” he said.

Ms. Passel said that Ms. Froon and Ms. Kremers were not traveling in Panama for a laid-back and over-indulgent vacation. Instead, they were learning Spanish and planning to help teach local school children in Boquete.

However, there was a mixup in the school’s schedule, and their first day of teaching was delayed a week – the same week the women vanished.

“They were not just on holiday,” Ms. Passel said. “They were trying to do some good.”

Family members have set up the Web site to publish news tips and receive donations. They have also posted a $30,000 reward for anyone who comes forward with concrete information of their whereabouts. Their mission to find these two girls has gained tremendous attraction in Holland, as even players from the Dutch soccer team were seen wearing bracelets with the Web site’s name during practice and may sport them when they take the field for their next World Cup match today.

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