Family Mourns Woman Murdered During Costa Rica Birthday Trip: 'We Will Never Forget Carla'

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The family of a Florida woman who was found dead this week after vanishing during a birthday vacation in Costa Rica is in mourning.

The body of 36-year-old Carla Stefaniak was found Monday near the Airbnb she’d been staying in with her sister-in-law, April Burton. Burton left the day before Stefaniak was scheduled to fly out. Stefaniak never made that flight.

“Words cannot express the devastation within her family and friends,” a post on the “Finding Carla” Facebook page said. “We want the world to know that we will never forget Carla. We will never forget the joy she brought into our lives, how much she made us laugh. We will always be with her and we know she will always be with us.

"May God bless her soul.”

On Tuesday, authorities announced they had arrested a security guard, Bismark Espinosa Martinez, 32, in connection with the slaying. Martinez was staying next door to Stefaniak and reportedly worked as a guard at the Airbnb complex in question.

Martinez is reportedly from Nicaragua and had been in the country since June, according to authorities. Officials arrested him after noticing inconsistencies in his story. 

"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.

On Nov. 28 — her birthday — Stefaniak did not board her scheduled flight home and family members grew worried when she didn’t respond to messages wishing her a happy birthday. 

The last anyone had heard from her was on Nov. 27 when she sent a text message saying the Airbnb she was staying at was “pretty sketchy.”

She also said the power had gone out and she was thirsty. She said she planned to ask one of the Airbnb security guards for water.

Authorities found blood stains in the Airbnb where Stefaniak was staying, which they followed to her body, which was found half-buried and wrapped in plastic about 200 yards from the apartment. 

Espinoza said Tuesday that the 36-year-old had died from head trauma and was stabbed multiple times. An investigation is ongoing.

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