Up to four people may be involved in the disappearance and the sexually-motivated murder of Carla Stefaniak, not just the security guard, her family says.
On a Facebook page that was created during the search for 36-year-old tourist had disappeared in Costa Rica, who had failed to return from a trip for her birthday.
The family last heard of Carla on November 27, the evening before she was to have taken a flight to return home. When on the afternoon of November 28, a Wednesday, Carla failed to show at the airport in Florida, the family got concerned and contact authorities in Costa Rica to file a report.
Her partially buried body was found on Monday, December 3, a few hundred meters from the Airbnb she was staying her last night in Costa Rica.
During the investigation into her disappearance, the Airbnb’s security guard told police he had seen the tourist leave early Wednesday morning, getting into a ‘taxi like’ vehicle. One report even has him telling investigators he helped the guest put the luggage in the car.
But investigators weren’t buying his story. They suspected he was not telling them the truth. A search of his living quarters on the property, a room next to Carla’s, following the find of the body, led police to arrest the security guard, a 32-year-old man of Nicaragua origin, identified as Bismark Espinosa Martinez, in Costa Rica illegally, including working illegally the hotel Le Mas that used the Airbnb platform to rent villas.
The hotel had lost its operating license in 2013. It was subsequently shut down by the municipality days after the discovery of the murder that investigators believe occurred in the villa Carla rented, finding trace evidence of blood. The villa had been cleaned before investigators could search it.
The Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ), the judicial authority akin to the FBI in the United States, is keeping quiet on the progress of their investigation, who say the information on the case is “confidential”.
Autopsy results reveal Carla died from injuries to the “neck, head and extremities,” and also indicated she was injured by some type of weapon, said Walter Espinoza, director the OIJ.
The case still remains under investigation.
“In fact, the doubt extends to that there may be up 3 or 4 possible people involved,” the family wrote in a message Thursday night. “We have been saying this since day 1. This was organized by more than one person as soon as Carla booked the place.”
Carla was cremated in Costa Rica and family members brought her ashes back to Tampa, where she lived after moving to the United States in 2000 from her native Venezuela for 12 years before moving to South Florida.
Costa Rica has a reputation internationally of being one of the safest countries to visit. The murder of Carla and two other (female) tourists in August has left a stain.
Authorities are being urged to make changes in the judicial system.