A dead body found in Costa Rica has been identified as a missing Florida woman, a report said. "Words can not express the devastation within her family and friends". By the next day, she had failed to make her flight home. "We want the world to know that we will never forget Carla", a Facebook post on the Finding Carla page said.
'We will never forget the joy she brought into our lives, how much she made us laugh. "May god bless her soul", the post said.
A lawyer for the complex where the Airbnb was located said witnesses saw Stefaniak get into a mystery vehicle at 5am on the Wednesday morning but family were quick to dismiss the witness account, saying the 36-year-old's flight was not till 1pm and she would not have left at that hour for the airport, located only half an hour away.
Investigators would find the woman's body half-buried and covered with plastic bags about 300 yards away from the Airbnb's apartment complex.
Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) said an autopsy performed on her body showed that she had stab wounds around the neck and extremities and blunt-force trauma to the head.
"This is a complex, hard case, and we're doing all that we can within our ability to solve the case", Espinoza said at a news conference. The man, Bismarck Espinosa Martinez, 32, had been staying in the apartment next door to hers.
Detectives who interviewed people who had contact with Espinoza Martinez before Stefaniak went missing on November 28 grew suspicious when they noticed his statements were contradictory, Espinoza, the government spokesman, told reporters.
Stefaniak chose to travel to Costa Rica because it's been portrayed as a paradise where nothing bad happens, according to her best friend. He was arrested on December 3, and is now in jail because he's a flight risk.
"The person linked to this homicide was close to her and had the time and place to commit the crime", said Judicial Investigator Director Walter Espinoza.
Relatives became concerned last week after Stefaniak stopped texting and phoning home and was not on her return flight from Costa Rica.
"Words can not express the devastation within her family and friends", the post said.
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Authorities discovered her body, partially concealed near the rental, on Monday.
Airbnb said it has removed the vacation rental listing where Stefaniak stayed. She Facetimed a friend in NY, telling him she was going to ask the security guard to buy her a bottle of water.
But Burton had needed to leave a day early, and Stefaniak had spent her last night in Costa Rica alone.
A day before she went missing, Stefaniak dropped Burton at the airport and returned their rental vehicle. Burton left the vacation earlier than Stefaniak, who was scheduled to depart on a November 28th flight.
"We are really really hoping it [is not her]", said Hallandale Beach resident Laura Jaime, Stefaniak's best friend and former roommate. Then, the messages stopped.
"My daughter came to [Costa Rica] to be a tourist", her father, Carlos Caicedo, said in a press conference.
It's understood the United States tourist had been FaceTiming with an unnamed male friend when her phone went dead at 9pm.
The complex where Stefaniak had been stayed is temporarily closed, a lawyer for the site told CNN affiliate WFTS.
Villa Le Mas's attorney, Federico Jenkins, said the owners are cooperating with the authorities in the investigation.
Martinez had been in Costa Rica since June 2018 after arriving from Nicaragua, the Miami Herald reported.
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