Father IDs body of Florida woman slain in Costa Rica

Nellie Chapman
December 8, 2018

On Tuesday, relatives learned from Costa Rican authorities that they believed a woman's body - officials discovered earlier - was Carla Stefaniak.

Carla Stefaniak, of Miami, was celebrating her 36th birthday, Fox13 reported.

Her family confirmed authorities identified Stephaniak through fingerprint data.

"Solving this case is very important for the country, very important for the family of the victim", explained Walter Espinoza, spokesperson for Costa Rica's judicial investigation department, "and it is very important for this society in general".

Stefaniak's family is of humble means and they have set up a Gofundme page to help with their expenses.

Martinez, a Nicaraguan security guard, reportedly told investigators that he last saw Stefaniak at the Airbnb where he works on November 28. - getting into an Uber with her luggage early that morning. The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are also assisting with the case, Stefaniak's family said.

A friend described Stefaniak as a "happy soul" who made everyone laugh and had a large social media presence.

After Burton left to return home early for a family obligation, Stefaniak opted to stay in Costa Rica.

Espinosa Martinez, a Nicaraguan immigrant, was working as a security guard at the complex despite lacking the proper documents to be in Costa Rica, department officials said at a news conference in San Jose.

According to its listing on TripAdvisor, the Villa le Mas is a compound with seven vacation apartments. The owners are fully cooperating with the authorities in the investigation and we hope that once the facts are determined, the perpetrator is brought to justice.

The trip to Costa Rica was meant to be a weeklong celebration of Stefaniak's birthday. Burton returned to Tampa last Tuesday, but Stefaniak was scheduled to head back the following day. Stefaniak's brother flew to Costa Rica last Friday to search for her. Two days later, her last Instagram picture featured her in a turquoise bathing suit, lying near a pool with tropical plants in the background. She wrote: 'I'm going to miss the place'.

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Carla Stefaniak of Florida spent the night at the Villa le Mas, near San Jose, on November 27.

"Since 2013, Villa Le Mas has operated a small vacation rental facility located at San Antonio, Escazu, Costa Rica".

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Stefaniak's family said they were "scared" as they headed to the morgue.

Stefaniak dropped their rental auto off at the airport and took an Uber for a tour around San Jose before checking into the Airbnb.

Authorities also said she appears to have been murdered.

Soon after, authorities said an unidentified body was found not far from the Airbnb. "We want the world to know that we will never forget Carla", the post on Finding Carla says. Although she checked in for her flight, she never got on the plane.

Overnight her family posted on Facebook that they were finally allowed to view the body and confirmed that it was her. Martinez was staying next door to Stefaniak and reportedly worked as a guard at the Airbnb complex in question.

"We will make sure this case is not closed like many others in Costa Rica". The family wondered why she would have taken a auto to the airport at 5 a.m. when her flight was in the afternoon.

"It's too much for us", her father, Carlos Stefaniak, told ABC Action News in Tampa from Costa Rica.

Demirel wondered if the culprit planned to harm Stefaniak from the moment she booked the reservation because her profile photo shows she's "beautiful" and she noted in her reservation that she was travelling alone.

"I saw everyone arrive", she said.

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