Investigators search for motive in death of Miami woman vacationing in Costa Rica

FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Costa Rican investigators are searching for a motive after a security guard was arrested for allegedly killing a South Florida woman on vacation.

Miami resident Carla Stefaniak went missing in Costa Rica while she was on vacation to celebrate her 36th birthday. Her body was later found near the Airbnb where she was staying.

The getaway turned into a tragic trip and has left her loved ones devastated as they remain on the island hoping for answers.

“This is very tough to accept. She didn’t deserve to die like this,” said the victim’s brother, Mario Caicedo. “The family is just trying to process this difficult time. We’re trying to be strong.”

Officials are investigating this case as a homicide and trying to determine the exact cause of death.

Stefaniak did not show up for her return flight on Nov. 27. Her semi-nude body was found partially buried near the Airbnb she rented the last night of her stay.

Investigators said it appeared she had been stabbed several times, suffered a broken neck and that her violent killing was sexual in nature.

Her grieving father spoke out Wednesday after hearing the disturbing new details of her death.

“My daughter went as a tourist and was murdered,” said Carlos Caicedo, Stefaniak’s father. “How can we have any doubt? And she was murdered in the worst way: with cruelty.”

Costa Rican authorities said her killer is the security guard of the Airbnb, 32-year-old Bismarck Espinosa Martinez of Nicaragua. He was arrested on Tuesday.

Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Department General Director Walter Espinoza said they’re looking for clues including where Stefaniak’s belongings are.

“Precisely, one of the aspects of the investigation has to do with her belongings,” Espinoza said through a translator. “Where are they? Who has them? How did they get them? Because we haven’t found them during the process of our investigation.”

The victim’s family flew to Costa Rica to identify the body.

“To recognize a body in the conditions of decomposition and with marks left by the man who took her from this world — it’s terrible,” Stefaniak’s father said. “God bless you forever, God bless you forever. I never imagined I’d see you like that. Never.”

A social media page created to help find Stefaniak posted an update that reads in part, “Words cannot express the devastation within her family and friends. We want the world to know that we will never forget Carla.”

Caicedo said having his sister’s accused killer behind bars brings a little comfort. “This is not gonna ease the pain. However, it’s good that they got him,” he said.

According to family, it will take several days before they can bring Stefaniak back to South Florida for her funeral.

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