Authorities located a body on Monday in Costa Rica, while searching for missing Florida woman Carla Stefaniak, who failed to board her flight home on November 28.
NBC News reports that there is no confirmation yet that the body found is indeed that of Carla, but authorities found the body buried partially in the ground and covered with plastic bags. Cadaver dogs alerted police to the area, located in the back of the Airbnb that Carla had been staying at while overseas celebrating her 36th birthday.
Spokesperson for Costa Rican authorities, Marisel Rodríguez Solís, said in a statement Monday that the body found appeared to be female. Further, the spokesperson said authorities found blood in the Airbnb that Carla was staying in before she vanished.
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Authorities are awaiting autopsy results before they can provide an official identity.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Carla left her Miami home for a birthday vacation a little less than two weeks ago, excited to celebrate overseas with her sister-in-law in Costa Rica. She stayed her final day alone before plans to return home, but she never made her flight. Her family now thinks she may have been abducted.
CBS reports that a security guard claimed he saw 36-year-old Stefaniak at around 5 a.m. on November 28, leaving her Airbnb rental. It’s the last known sighting of her. Stefaniak’s brother, Carlos Caicedo, however, said that it would have been odd for her leave that early, as her flight wasn’t until later that afternoon.
“Because her flight was at 1:30, and she was only 20 to 30 minutes away from the airport. And she is never early for anything.”
Stefaniak dropped a rental car off at the airport on November 27, the day her her sister-in-law took a flight back to the U.S. for a prior engagement. Alone for her last day in Costa Rica, Stefaniak took a tour of San Jose with an Uber driver, then later check in for her flight back and arranged for an Uber drive to pick her up the following morning.
Caicedo said his sister had been checking in regularly while in Costa Rica, but after around 8 p.m. on the night before her flight home, all communication ceased, aside from a message to a friend at around 8 p.m. that said it was “raining crazy” and “it’s pretty sketchy here.”
The rain apparently knocked the power out in Costa Rica on the night before Stefaniak was scheduled to leave. She reportedly told a friend during a FaceTime call that she planned to ask the Airbnb security guard to buy her water, according to NBC News.
The following morning, the Airbnb host told a security guard that Stefaniak left the Airbnb rental at 5 a.m., carrying luggage. The Uber driver who arrived at 8 a.m. to pick her up reportedly said she was nowhere to be found.
“The Uber driver arrived around 8 a.m. to pick up Stefaniak but could not find her,” family spokesperson Katie Gardner said. “However, her family says the story does not make sense since her flight was not until that afternoon and the airport was only 30 minutes away.”
Caicedo added that given his sister had already arranged an Uber to take her back to the airport, she didn’t skip her flight back home voluntarily.
“She had been ready to come back home but she didn’t. That means somebody kidnapped her or abducted her.”
Several family members, including Caicedo, flew to Costa Rica to help with the search efforts. They’ve been in touch with the United States embassy in Costa Rica, as well as investigators.
Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
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[Feature Photo:Carla Stefaniak/Facebook]