Multiple People 'Organized' Killing of Fla. Woman Celebrating Birthday in Costa Rica: Family
The family of a Florida woman found dead in Costa Rica believes that multiple people are responsible for her death.
Carla Stefaniak, 36, was on vacation in Costa Rica in late November. She was set to return home on November 28 — her birthday. She checked into her flight online, but never boarded the plane. On the day before her disappearance, she texted her sister-in-law and said that conditions were “pretty sketchy” at the resort where she was staying.
Her partially-buried body was found in a wooded area near her resort, covered in plastic bags. An autopsy found that she died as a result of head injuries, but also suffered multiple stab wounds on her neck.
A security guard working the property surrounding the Airbnb where Stefaniak was staying was arrested in connection to her death.
According to General Director of Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Department Walter Espinoza, the security guard, 32-year-old Bismarck Espinosa Martinez, became a suspect after allegedly contradicting his story regarding Stefaniak’s whereabouts to police. Espinoza said that Martinez’ alleged “motive is sexual.”
Espinoza also alleged that Martinez has been living in Costa Rica for the past several years illegally.
Martinez was not immediately charged after his arrest and authorities announced he was being held on a preventive sentence and would spend several months in prison. It is not clear if he has been charged yet.
There are no details at this time as to whether or not Martinez has a lawyer or has entered a plea.
But on December 13, Stefaniak’s family wrote on a Facebook page launched after her disappearance that sources involved in the investigation have told them more than one person was likely involved in her death.
“In fact, the doubt extends to that there may be up to three or four possible people involved,” Stefaniak’s family wrote on Dec. 13. “We have been saying this since day 1. This was organized by more than one person as soon as Carla booked the place.”
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
After she disappeared, Stefaniak had no online or social media presence.
“Carla’s clothes, iPhone and other electronics were found,” the family wrote. “This is consistent with with our initial suspicions and communications with Costa Rican authorities that whoever abducted Carla turned her electronics off and the last digital footprint was at the AirBnb location.”
No other suspects are currently in custody. Costa Rican authorities are continuing to investigate the case.