Costa Rican authorities: Body found believed to be of missing woman from South Florida


    Officials investigating the disappearance of a South Florida woman in Costa Rica confirmed Tuesday afternoon they believe the body they found is hers.

    "All of the evidence we have at this moment, leads us to believe it is the body of Carla Stefaniak. However, we are waiting to receive more scientific evidence,” said Walter Espinoza, General Director of Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Organization, in a press conference in Spanish.

    They are waiting for the FBI to send over Stefaniak's fingerprints in order to make a more conclusive match.

    Stefaniak, 36, has been missing for more than a week after traveling to Costa Rica with her sister-in-law. A GoFundMe account says Stefaniak was last heard from around 8 p.m. on Nov. 27 and she didn’t show up for her 1 p.m. flight home the next day.

    The Tampa Bay Times reported that Stefaniak’s last message to her family was: “It’s pretty sketchy here,” that the power was out and it was pouring rain.

    Investigators made a break in the case last night.

    Thirty-two-year old Bismarck Espinoza Martínez, a security guard at the Airbnb vacation rental Stefaniak was staying at, was arrested around 11 p.m. Monday night in connection to the case. The suspect is originally from Nicaragua and has been in Costa Rica since June, according to authorities.

    "The version of events given to us by a security guard at the location she was staying were incompatible with reality and had many contradictions. Because of that, he became suspect and last night we searched his apartment which is at the same location the woman was staying at," Espinoza said. "He lived in Apt. 7 and she in Apt 8. We also searched her apartment and we found blood, and about 300 meters from the apartment, we found a body of a woman.”

    Espinoza wanted to make clear the case is complex and difficult. He stated they will continue to investigate to see if the person they arrested is at fault for her death or if there’s another explanation.

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