US

Details Emerge on American Tourist Killing in Costa Rica

By Colin Fredericson

More details were uncovered in the killing of American citizen Carla Stefaniak on her vacation to Costa Rica.

Her body was found partially naked, with trauma to her head and stab wounds on her neck and arms. Her body was found covered in plastic bags, outside an apartment complex. Stefaniak had rented one of the apartments via an Airbnb.

A security guard at the complex was taken into custody by police after they found inconsistencies in his statements. He resided in the apartment beside Stefaniak’s rental, CNN reported.

“And we ask ourselves why,” Stefaniak’s father, Carlos Caicedo said in an interview with CNN. “We have no explanation.”

Stefaniak went to Costa Rica with her sister-in-law, April Burton. They left the United States on Nov. 22, WSVN reported. They were together for six days, traveling in celebration of Stefaniak 36th birthday. Burton last saw Stefaniak when she dropped her off at the airport in their rental car, on Nov. 27. Burton left first, and Stefaniak was supposed to leave the next morning.

Relatives stopped hearing from Stefaniak and she hadn’t returned home on her scheduled flight.

“Six o’clock, still haven’t heard from her,” Burton told WSVN. “Even if she was in immigration, she would have made it to the tarmac, she would have service. She would have texted somebody, she would have done something. She checked in for the flight, but she never got on the plane.”

The last person to hear from Stefaniak was a friend in New York. The friend said the last she heard of Stefaniak was that she was very thirsty, but it was raining hard outside so she couldn’t go out.

Costa Rican authorities arrested 32-year-old Bismarck Espinoza Martinez, a citizen of Nicaragua. He had been in Costa Rica since June.

“The person detained for the homicide was near her, had chances to commit the act and became a suspect through all our investigation,” said Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Department General Director Walter Espinoza, via WSVN.

The suspect is being held on a “preventive sentence.” He will be in jail for at least three months.

“You can’t imagine what we are feeling,” said Caicedo, via WSVN. “Her mom is absolutely devastated. She can’t speak.”

Security guards told authorities that Stefaniak checked out at 5 a.m., but this didn’t add up to her family members.

“Her flight wasn’t until 1:30. She’s only 20 or 30 minutes from the airport,” Burton told WSVN. “She has four [pieces of] luggage, so this story doesn’t make sense.”

Stefaniak made a final Instagram post on Nov. 25, a photo of herself relaxing on the edge of the pool, captioned “I’m going to miss this place”

The Finding Carla Facebook page was set up, presumably by family, and has kept updates as the situation develops, including posts from before they found out she was murdered and were still just trying to locate her.

WFTS reporter Isabel Rosales posted a video of Caicedo, and family friend Greg Zwolinski, talking about Stefaniak from a hotel in Costa Rica, on Dec. 4. They were there to get information from the authorities and to see Stefaniak’s body in the morgue.