Security Guard Arrested in Killing of Woman Who Vanished During Costa Rica Birthday Trip


A body found near the Airbnb where she was staying was confirmed to be that of Carla Stefaniak on Tuesday.

The body of a Florida woman who vanished while celebrating her birthday in Costa Rica has been found, and a man has been arrested in her killing, officials said Tuesday. 

Carla Stefaniak, of Hallandale Beach, had traveled to the country with her sister-in-law, April Burton, last week, but Burton left one day before her on Tuesday. Stefaniak never made it to her Wednesday afternoon flight and when she didn't reply to birthday messages, her family became concerned. 

Stefaniak's body was found near the Airbnb where she had been staying with Burton. 

Security guard Bismark Espinosa Martinez, 32, was arrested after giving conflicting statements to police, Judicial Investigator Director Walter Espinoza said Tuesday, according to NBC Miami. Martinez worked at the Airbnb in question.

The cause of death was determined to be head trauma, Espinoza said. 

Espinoza said earlier that stains that appeared to be blood were found in the Airbnb where the two women had been staying. The blood led them to the body, which was wrapped in plastic. The remains were identified as Stefaniak's later on Tuesday.

The last anyone heard from Stefaniak, 36, was last Tuesday when she texted Burton saying the power had gone out due to a storm and that it was “pretty sketchy here.” She had also said she was thirsty and was going to ask one of the security guards outside the Airbnb to buy her a bottle of water. 

Stefaniak also reportedly FaceTimed a friend around 7:30 p.m. Her phone reportedly died at about 9:00 p.m.

Security guards at the Airbnb had told Stefaniak's family that she got into an unknown car early Wednesday morning with her luggage, Fox 13 reported. Her family said they were skeptical of that story, however. “None of us really believe this 5 a.m. story,” Burton told the station. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

The investigation is ongoing.