The last photo

There has been a lot of debate about the last photos made by kris and Lisanne on April 1st. Some say Kris does not look happy and take this as a sign there was some kind of trouble, from an argument between both girls about when to turn around to the presence of a third party which affected the general atmosphere. It’s picture #508, the very last picture of Kris taken on April first, several hours before the first emergency call, which gets the most attention. People say she looks stressed, even afraid.

But on the low res images which are available on the web it’s very hard to see her facial expression and impossible to zoom in far enough to correctly identify her mood. Using the high res images, for instance, it’s clear Kris is not at all unhappy. She seems relaxed, with a slight smile on her face. You could go as far as to say she looks a bit tired and is therefore less exuberant than she was an earlier photos, but we see fear nor anxiety, on her face or in her stance.

She has turned slightly towards the camera, caught in the moment of crossing the stream. There seems to be no intention of turning back. If anything, she looks ready to walk on.

It’s always dangerous, of course, to try and read too much in a photo like this, but when we looked at this in magnification we saw a relaxed Kris, eager to walk on. This is how we interpret the picture, other opinions may vary of course. Fact is, however, we can see there is no sign of anger or fear and no signs at all of a fall of any kind. I think we can definately rule out these options.

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What do the bones tell us?

There is still some debate on what traces were and were not found on the remains of Kris and Lisanne after they were recovered from the banks of the Changuinola.

During the writing of Lost in the Jungle we had access to the autopsy reports describing the investigation of all found remains by the Panamanian Forensic Laboratory. The autopsies were carried out by experienced forensic, anthropological and medical pathologists, and were all executed using standard international procedures. All the reports were signed by the heads of the departments: dr. Bandel, dr. Moreno, dr. Pittí (no relations) en dr. Trejos for the DNA analysis.

None of the bones showed any trace of violence. Lisannes leg bones showed signs of periostitis and traces of roots. Kris’ pelvis showed traces of roots and gnaw marks of rodents and othe small carnivores. Lisannes foot had three broken toe bones.

Another important observation is the examination of Kris’ rib, where a certain white pallor is found which, as the forensic anthropologist states, can be explained by sunlight or by the presence of phosphates in the soil. In the reports we read that ultimately no foreign matter was found on the bones. From this we can conclude that the pallor was indeed caused by sunlight. When we later showed the photos from the autopsy report to Van de Goot, he said that the bleaching was not that bad to begin with and within the expected parameters.

This tells us several things. The periostitis was found in both leg bones. Periostitis is a condition that results in inflammation of the band of tissue that surrounds your bones that is known as the periosteum. It’s caused by repetitive stress. The fact that it was found in both legbones means it was a very severe case and likely to have caused both great pain and limited mobility.

The symptoms of acute periostitis can include:

  • intense pain
  • difficulty bearing weight on the affected limb
  • pus formation
  • fever
  • chills
  • swelling of the tissue surrounding the bone

This indicates that the girls likely walked for long periods under very difficult conditions. How long cannot be determined with any precision. People with sensitive legbones, or with previous injuries, can get periostitis within a day or two. Lisanne was an avid volleyball player, which meant her legs endured a lot of stress regularly, but if this contributed to her condition remains open.

Lisanne also broke three bones in her foot. How she got this injury cannot be determined. There are several possibilities: a rock fell on it, or she fell/jumped from a great hight. The fact that she also had severe periostitis means that she would have moved akwardly, which caused her to stumble or fall and break her foot. Or alternatively, she broke her foot first, which cause her to walk akwardly, which induced the periostitis. Either way, after about two or three days, her mobility must have been severely limited.

As the symptoms listed above show, periostitis can be dangerous. Besides severe pain and limited mobility, it can lead to chills and fever and even pus formation. Combined with the broken foot it’s very unlikely she would have moved much after a period of three to five days, depending on what scenario you choose.

If she broke her foot early, let’s say early enough to be the cause of the emergency calls, the periosititis would likely come up quickly and render her practically immobile after a day or two, three at the most. Her worsening condition may have led to the decision to walk in the riverbed, which would at that time probably be easier than find their way through the jungle, which is dense and steep.

And when Lisanne finally could not go any further, the automatically ended up along the banks of the river. We deem it likely that this place was the location of the night photo’s.

The traces of roots and carnivourous animals also tell us something. For these traces to occur, the bodies must have decomposed somewhere dry, where plants and animals could get to them. Animal traces means the remains were likely scattered over a certain area as well. If they died alongside a river, a flash flood could easily have carried the bones further down the river.

It would also explain why only certain bones were found: if the remains were spread out, they were likely not washed away at the same time or maybe some of the bones were not washed away at all. They were found in the river, not on dry land, which means they were not there for very long, otherwise they would have washed away again.

All the remains were found along the banks of the same river, downstream from the second monkey bridge, where Kris’ shorts were found. This means the remains had to be located somewhere upstream from the first bridge. This is in line with the geography. All small rivers and streams eventually end up in the two larger tributaries of the Changuinola, which means that everything that is washed away by the water north of the Mirador will eventually pass the location of the remains.

The bones do not tell us how they died or if someone was involved. They do not exclude foul play. But what they do tell us is that they ended up somewhere along the banks of a river or stream and that they died there, after which their bodies remained there for long enough to decompose completely, before some of the remains and the backpack were washed away by the water.

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Verloren in de jungle in bestsellerlijst

Vandaag kwam Verloren in de Jungle op nummer 13 binnen in de CPNB Top 60, de nationale bestsellerlijst van Nederland, gebaseerd op de verkopen van de week ervoor.

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#1 True Crime op Bol.com

Vandaag vond ik Verloren in de Jungle terug op #1 op Bol.com in de categorie True Crime.

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Recensie NRC

Het NRC gebruikt vandaag het woord “imponerend” bij de bespreking van Verloren in de jungle. Tevens ben ik blij aan te mogen kondigen dat de uitgever inmiddels een tweede druk in gang heeft gezet! Goede tijden!

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Verloren in de jungle in Algemeen Dagblad

Vandaag verscheen er een groot stuk over Kris en Lisanne alsook een interview met mij en Marja in de bijlage van het Algemeen Dagblad.

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Details, details

One final blog this week, to show how much data we processed while writing the book – and how much we had to leave out. I might do some more next week, but you can always buy the book. It will be out in English translation in a few weeks.

There are plenty of details to see on the photographs that helped us build our case in the book. I’m not going to repeat our scenario’s here, you’d best read the book for that. But there are things that we took into account that we couldn’t fit in the book – details so small they would only confuse the casual reader, but would be of considerable interest to someone familiar with the case.

I already mentioned the shoes, shadows and shoelaces in Image 0489. Similar things can be learned from Image 0486, a selfie with Kris and Lisanne early in their hike on the Pianista path. Smiling faces on this picture, too. They were having a good time.

The high quality of the images we have made it possible to zoom in considerably. As seen in the book, we could zoom in on the sunglasses, to see if we could perhaps see a third person in the reflection and if we could determine if the girls took the picture themselves.

As you can see, we can safely say: yes, they took the picture themselves. In this case, it was Kris who took the picture. On the detailed image you can see her outstretched hand and the camera she is holding. In the book, we included an image of the Powershot in her hand, to show how she is holding it.

We can see exactly the same arm in exactly the same pose reflected in Lisanne’s glasses. There is also no other person visible in this picture, not in front of them and not behind them. They were alone at that point.

She is holding the camera with her right hand and on her wrist we can see traces of an armband of some sort she is wearing on her wrist. On Image 501 we can see this is probably a hair elastic.

Lisanne’s glasses
Kris’ glasses

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Shadows and shoes

Time to take a look at a picture thet is rarely mentioned when discussing Kris and Lisanne’s Pianista Hike, photo 0489. Yet much can be gleaned from it. It’s possible to pinpoint both direction and location from the photo and because of the shadows Kris casts on this photo, also about the exact time the photo was taken.

I always liked this photo, for some reason. First of all, she looks pretty happy on it and not tired in the least It also shows the beauty of the surroundings – the great view of the valley you can see behind her (not visible on this cut I made).

We can also clearly see the shadow she is casting. The sun is high in the sky, almost at its zenith, and is located somewhere behind her right shoulder. The length of the shadow is very short and indicates a time shortly before noon, somewhere between 11:30 and 11:50 am.

A closer look at her shoes reveals they are brown, wuth grey-ish laces, tied in an unruly not on both shoes. There are small metal shoelace eyelets. The rucksack carrying bands have a tartan print.

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An analysis of photo #505

Image 505 has generated some controversy throughout the years. Based on low quality images people tended to see all kinds of things, from Kris having her hands tied behind her back to people hiding in the vegetation. As we show in our book, there’s nothing wrong with Kris in this picture. She is bending down and turning slightly towards the camera, sticking her tongue out and making a mock salute.

We already knew the location of the photo can be found beyond the Mirador; several video’s made by hikers confirm it, as did some of the locals we spoke to.

Behind Kris, hidden in the shadows, the path bends sharply to the left in a downwards angle. But now I’ve found a nice video where it’s actually demonstrated with some compelling evidence, including a plausible explanation of Kris’ rather strange stance in the picture: since the path is going down and is overgrown with vegetation, it functions as a tunnel and she needs to bend down slightly to be able to see Lisanne, who likely called out to her to have her picture taken. Find the video here.

After studying the high res image, it also becomes clear there are no cables crossing above the path, just stems of plants. The sunlight creates deep shadow, which obscures a lot of detail and can misdirect the eye.

As the aforementioned video shows, the rock which “hides” Kris’ feet is a real rock, one she likely just stepped over before Lisanne called out to her to take the picture.

As far as we are concerned, there can be no doubt that the photo is in the right sequence, meaning that it falls between the Mirador and the Quebrada photo’s. But there’s more.

Several other details can be seen in the high res image. One of the mysteries (for me as well, in the early days), was the blue splash of color seen in the foreground. This turns out to be noting more then litter, an empty blue package of some sort. Maybe a crisp package or a drink carton. Sadly, the bright sunshine obscures most of the details.

I find it implausible to think Kris or Lisanne left it there, so it’s likely something thrown away by another hiker or a local.

We have also studied Kris stanbce in depth. As mentioned above, it’s clear to see she is bending forward, while doing a part turn, closing her eyes against the sun and either making a salute or placing her hand behind her ear to act as if she did not hear Lisanne call her.

Looking at it again now, I think there is a third option: she is shielding her eyes against the sun. In her pocket she carries the small water bottle with the yellow-and-white cap we also see in other photo’s.

There is no-one behind her. I think we can safely say she looks cheerful and happy, playful even.

Rest assured, we and our Photoshop specialist studied this image inch by inch. We did not see anything out of the ordinary. Therefore we can conclude with certainty this photo was not manipulated. Kris does not indicate any signs of stress that indicates she is being forced to act cheerful either, so no third parties were involved in taking this picture.

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More blogs to come (English)

Since the case of Kris and Lisanne is drawing an international audience, I will occasionally switch to English. There are several blogs with more information about the case itself forthcoming in the next week or so. In the meantime, questions can be addressed to Marja and me. My address is on my info page.

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