OP ED: James “JB” Bryson
The more deeply we are helping our fellow ex-pats with real estate issues, legal wrangling, and other problems they got suckered into in and around the area of BOCAS DEL TORO, COLON, BOQUETE, etc, I feel it is our duty to remind those that are not familiar with Panama of some of the very real issues that occur. Panama City may indeed be a growing nation that is clawing its way into being recognized as a first world locale. But the surrounding areas are very much still like Jurassic Park. \
Throw in the proximity to Colombia and having such a large un-policed area of water and small chain islands, you can see where the desire to see unspoiled nature, may intersect with the very real dangers of a lawless and desolate land. To those travelling or planning to travel in this area, please be aware and vigilant.
The Daily Beast-
Since The Daily Beast’s original “Lost Girls” investigation last summer, additional evidence and archives have been unearthed in the case. More than two dozen other victims were also reported in the same region of Panama, including a young woman from the United States found murdered earlier this year. Now a return trip to the scene of events—as well as renewed sleuthing by best-selling author Dr. Kathy Reichs and other forensic specialists—provide a fresh take on this cold case.
In the first chapter of this series, we traveled to the last place Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon, two young Dutch women killed three years ago, were known to have been alive and apparently signalling for help. In the second chapter, we looked at the usual and unusual suspects and witnesses in the “Lost Girls” case. In the third chapter, we visited the Serpent River, where key evidence was found—and where we discovered it had been universally misinterpreted. In the last article we visit a Panama morgue to speak with an expert in the investigation, and in this segment we will look at whether the case of American Catherine Johannet, strangled to death in February, may fit into a larger pattern of murder cover-ups.
BOQUETE, Panama—Long before she arrived in this part of the world, Catherine Johannet had learned how to handle herself while traveling abroad.
After graduating from Columbia University in 2015 with a degree in comparative literature, the 23-year-old New York native spent a year teaching in Vietnam. Before that she worked with mentally ill patients in Portugal. A globe-trotting passion had already taken her to six continents, and she’d chronicled those exploits on a popular Instagram account.
Then she came to Panama.
After a stopover here in Boquete, high in the northern mountains, Johannet journeyed to the Caribbean coast of Bocas del Toro, in early February of 2017.
Bocas Town, on the island of Colón, is crowded and rough; known for late-night fiestas and a no-questions-asked lifestyle. The studious Johannet might well have been looking for peace and tranquility when she left her hostel for Isla Bastimentos, just a short ferry ride away.
There are two ways to arrive at Bastimentos’ Red Frog Beach, where Johannet had planned to spend the day, according to witnesses from the hostel. The direct route, by water taxi, costs seven U.S. dollars. The slower option—which involves a ferry drop at Wizard Beach, followed by a long walk on a remote, heavily wooded trail—costs only three dollars. Ever the adventurer, Johannet took the long way to Red Frog, disembarking from the hired launch at about 10:30 in the morning on Thursday, February 2, this year.