Costa Rica: Body is likely missing Florida woman

Howard TerryDec 08, 2018

- Family members of a Florida woman, who went missing in Costa Rica for days, said her body was found near the Airbnb she was staying in, but authorities are still waiting for an official identification through a fingerprint match.

Autopsy results showed Stefaniak died from injuries to the "neck, head and extremities", and also indicated she was injured by some type of weapon, Espinosa said. Her death is now being investigated as a homicide.

Police said a security guard had been detained in connection with Stefaniak's disappearance.

The suspect is a Nicaraguan immigrant who entered Costa Rica in June, Walter Espinoza, director general of the nation's Judicial Investigation Agency said in a statement Tuesday.

Espinoza told WSVN that all data gathered in the case shows the body is her's, but officials are waiting to compare the fingerprints with Federal Bureau of Investigation records. "Nothing happens there. That's why she picked Costa Rica, ironically". He will spend at least the next three months behind bars.

Meanwhile, Stefaniak's family are now on their way to the Central American country.

"We are really really hoping it (is not her)", said Hallandale Beach resident Laura Jaime, Stefaniak's best friend and former roommate. "Her mom is absolutely devastated".

Almost a week had passed since Stefaniak's relatives and friends in Florida embarked on an worldwide search after she failed to return from her birthday celebration in Costa Rica. Stefaniak had been staying in Apartment 8, and when investigators searched her room, they found blood, he said.

The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are also assisting with the case, Stefaniak's family said.

Burton returned to the USA after five days. "It's pretty sketchy here", Stefaniak reportedly sent, before all communication ceased. We will never forget the joy she brought into our lives, how much she made us laugh.

On Monday, officials revealed a body was found buried in a wooded area less than 200-feet behind Carla Stefaniak's Airbnb.

That same night, she was Facetiming with a friend in NY when the call dropped about 9pm. The day before, she had dropped off her sister-in-law at an airport in San José earlier in the day on and then toured the city with an Uber driver.

"So we don't know if it's the guards, we don't know if it's the Airbnb guy, we don't know if it's both", said her sister-in-law April Burton. "We know she was abducted". Espinoza told Spanish-speaking media that Martinez, of Nicaragua, was arrested at about 11 p.m. Monday after authorities raided his apartment, which was adjacent to the room Stefaniak and Burton rented through AirBnB.

Family members said this didn't add up. "Her flight was at 1:30, and she was only 20 to 30 minutes away from the airport". Burton said it didn't make sense.

Stefaniak's brother flew to Costa Rica last Friday to look for her. "If immigration gives me permission I'm going to meet you, soon". We're trying to keep the faith.

On Nov. 29, Costa Rican police put out an appeal for anyone who may have seen or had contact with Stefaniak to come forward.

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