Body of tourist Carla Stefaniak identified, suspect detained

Pauline Gross
December 7, 2018

Espinoza said the organization has sent fingerprint samples to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for absolute confirmation of the body's identity.

Investigators said they reviewed surveillance footage and spoke to witnesses who saw Stefaniak at various times and said they determined the contradictory statements the security guard gave to them were incompatible with evidence they found.

Burton and Stefaniak were in Costa Rica celebrating her birthday.

- All signs indicate that a body that was found Monday in Costa Rica is that of a Broward County woman who was reported missing last week, authorities announced Tuesday. 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.

Ms Stefaniak's loved ones went to Costa Rica to look for her.

Stefaniak's family and friends, who live in Tampa, did not hear from her after she texted them from her Airbnb rental on the night of November 27 to say the power was going in and out.

The family said Stefaniak had checked in online for her flight and ordered an Uber to pick her up later that morning.

"Words can not express how shocking and devastating this is to her family and her friends", Antonieta wrote on Facebook. Investigators further confirmed that they had done a search of Martinez's room, but they did not provide any details about what they found. Late Tuesday, in an emotional Facebook post, her family said that Stefaniak's father had confirmed the body found was his daughter's.

Before the news broke, Stefaniak's family and friends held out hope she was still alive.

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Burton left the country November 27, and Stefaniak's flight back to Florida was scheduled for the next day.

A 32-year-old man was arrested for her murder, the station said.

"That's when we knew that something's not right", Burton said. The body was only half-buried in the ground and had been covered with plastic bags.

She wrote that it was raining there and the lights were flickering on and off.

The State Department is working on the case and are awaiting the results of an autopsy.

Walter Espinoza, head of Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Department, was quoted by AP news agency as saying the Florida woman had died of head trauma.

He lived in the same Airbnb where Stefaniak was staying.

Costa Rican authorities also revealed more about events leading up to Stefaniak's disappearance. "Her flight was at 1:30, and she was only 20 to 30 minutes away from the airport. She is very active on social media, and for her, on the day of her birthday, to never log in to any of those accounts is just insane".

She later communicated with a friend via Facetime and said that she wanted to go out that night but was too exhausted.

Other reports by GizPress

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