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The photos also tell us that the women had been behaving rationally and intelligently, using whatever they had available to signal rescuers. For example, one picture shows a crude but effective direction marker made of sticks and orange plastic, laid out on a large flat-topped boulder. The women had also used a roll of toilet tissue to spell out something (possibly another arrow or an SOS) on a boulder, even placing a rusty mirror in the center of the letters to reflect sunlight and perhaps flag passing helicopters.

If one of them was injured or deceased at that point, it was likely Kris. A single close-up appears to show a wound to the right side of her head in the temple area, and blood matting her distinctive strawberry blonde hair.

Wilderness survival expert Weil says a possibly fatal injury to Kris might be the reason the strange night-pictures were made in the first place—perhaps because the heavy rain visible in the photos was threatening to sweep her friend’s body away downstream.
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When reviewed chronologically, by time stamp, the “night pictures” turn out to reveal a strange but definite pattern—with most of the images being carefully grouped by content.

A dozen or more long-range (quasi-dark) images show a rock outcropping, tree formations, and even individually identifiable plants. Then the shooter’s position changes, and we see one or more close-up, well-lit images. Afterward, the camera moves slightly and the pattern is repeated, with the exact same unique landscape features shot again from a different angle, followed by more close-up shots.

Wilderness expert Weil also finds the oft-repeated imagery significant.

“She might be trying to use the camera to tell us something she thinks is important,” he says. “Something that went down that night, and she wanted to record it for her loved ones or whoever else.”
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“The camera is not being moved more than a few meters from shot to shot,” says Reis, who dismisses speculation that the women were attempting to use the camera’s flash as a light source.

Reis is likewise skeptical about the camera’s flash having been triggered to signal rescuers, as some have suggested, because “the images are made under close [foliage] cover,” where searchers would have been unlikely to see them. If the flash were intended to attract a search party in the area, they “would likely have tried to move out into the open.”

Some of the images are “sharp and clear” in a way that Reis says could mark them as “deliberately intended to show a specific image.” If they had been taken at random, he says, it’s “unlikely they would be so crisp.”
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The images in the sequence are all “taken from virtually the same spot,” says George Reis, an independent forensic imaging analyst who assisted The Daily Beast with this case.
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A handful of these so-called “night pictures” were released to the press shortly after the backpack was discovered. Taken out of order and with no context, the publicly released photos fueled more conspiracy theories and even supernatural explanations for the tragedy.

Our photo-forensic sleuths quickly debunk the sinister hype.

“I don’t see any evidence of foul play at all,” says Rosenthal, echoing Wilderness Medicine director Weil.

Rosenthal says it was “raining pretty hard” when the photos were made. He points to the way flash reflecting back off the raindrops would have limited the camera’s ability to capture images at a distance.

The rain also jibes with the recorded timestamp, as weather reports indicate the first big storm of the rainy season falling on the night of April 8.

And that’s just the start of the camera’s tale.
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The Daily Beast is the first media outlet to have access to the whole series of pictures taken that night, and this investigation marks the first time the images have been subjected to independent experts for review.

Many of these photos were thought to have been taken in complete darkness, but enhancements made by forensic experts consulted in the course of this investigation have revealed previously unknown landscape features hidden within some of the images.

Here’s what we know now: All of the photos were taken in a steep, jungle environment, and the timing between them varies from just a few seconds—likely as fast as the camera could fire—to 15 minutes or more. According to the timestamp made by Lisanne’s SX270, these images were made on April 8. That means one of the women had already managed to survive more than a week without food or shelter in the wilderness.
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Many of those who choose to believe Kris and Lisanne were murdered point to the fact that they didn’t leave behind any obvious goodbye messages to loved ones, as people stranded in the wilderness often do.

Other observers have countered this by saying the lost women seem to have been anxious about conserving their phone batteries, or that they might have been the victims of a sudden crisis that didn’t leave time for message writing. A pattern of regularly timed, daily signal checks made with the iPhone ceases on April 6, leading to speculation that an accident or other incident that day left Kris’s iPhone with Lisanne—but that she lacked the PIN or password to use it.

However, new evidence indicates that at least one of the women did try to leave a record of sorts behind. It’s true there are no written messages in the form of texts or SMSs on either of the salvaged phones. But if a picture really is worth a thousand words, then the images found on Lisanne Froon’s tough little Canon could be trying to speak volumes.
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“Her facial expression is different from in all the other pictures,” says Rosenthal, after magnification and enhancement of the image. “She doesn’t appear so happy here for some reason.”

According to the call log from her iPhone—which was also found intact with the camera in the backpack—the first call from Kris’s phone attempting to reach an emergency services number in Holland comes later that same night, at 9:39 p.m, roughly three hours after sunset.

“It seems like everything went wrong when they got off the main trail,” Rosenthal says.
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Then things get strange.

In the last few shots from that day we do indeed see Kris and Lisanne following an indigenous trail down the opposite side of the high ridge-crest that marks the division of the Pacific and Caribbean watersheds. Geographical features near a streambed visible in the last few photos place them about an hour from the top of the Divide—and still heading downhill, away from Boquete.

Court-certified forensic photography analyst Keith Rosenthal says the women might already be lost at the time these images were made.

“They could have taken these pictures in an attempt to mark where they’d already been,” Rosenthal tells The Daily Beast, after reviewing the full set of images. He says the photos might have been intended as reference points, “in case they tried to come back the same way.”

The last image we have of Kris Kremers’ face, turning to look back into the camera as she crosses a streambed, could also be telling.
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A series of over a hundred images, found on the digital memory card of Lisanne’s camera, gives us a glimpse of just how deep and dark it was.

The amateur shutterbug and college volleyball star had brought a Canon Powershot SX270 along on her post-graduate trip to Panama. A durable pocket camera, the model comes with a zoom lens and built-in flash. Unfortunately for investigators, unlike some similar models, the SX270 doesn’t have GPS or Wifi capabilities.

Lisanne’s Canon was discovered in its own padded case inside her backpack on the banks of the Culebra. (The nylon pack also contained her passport, as well as both women’s cell phones, sunglasses, cash, and bras.)

The first dozen or so images found on the camera seem normal enough.

Tuesday, April 1, was a bright, sunny day. The women are smiling and cheerful and no third party is visible in any of the images. Aside from a few selfies taken at the overlook of the Divide, most of the pictures are shot by Lisanne, and many of them show Kris walking ahead of her on the trail, enjoying the sunshine and the primal beauty of the rainforest.
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