The family of slain Florida woman Carla Stefaniak filed a lawsuit against Airbnb and property owners at a Costa Rican village after she was killed at while vacationing there.
People reports that according to a lawsuit filed at the Hillsborough County Court on Thursday, bad reviews and comments associated with Villa le Mas, in San Antonio de Escazú, were deleted, which may have changed Carla’s mind about staying there, had she read the negative reviews beforehand. Carla was in Costa Rica celebrating her 36th birthday when she disappeared on her final night in the country, later found dead behind the Airbnb.
“While defendant, Airbnb, posted complimentary and positive reviews of the resort property and its hosts, there are and were multiple reports since 2013 of guests who encountered bad experiences and recounted being victimized by personnel affiliated with the resort that Defendant, Airbnb sanitized from its own promotions and advertising materials,” the lawsuit reads, according to documents obtained by People.
The lawsuit, filed by Carla’s brothers, Mario Caicedo and Carlos Caicedo Jr., lists both Airbnb and the property owners as defendants.
The lawsuit also accuses Airbnb of failure to screen suspected murderer, 32-year-old Bismark Espinosa Martinez, who worked as a security guard at the villa. Espinoza, of Nicaragua, was apparently an undocumented immigrant who lacked the correct credentials to work in Costa Rica. Further, the lawsuit claims Martinez was given the authority to open any apartment door at the villa without supervision and/or permission.
“[Airbnb and Villas le Mas] knew or should have known of the potential danger in facilitating Martinez’s un-supervised access to vulnerable women guests in a private setting,” the lawsuit read. “[They] owed a duty to maintain its premises, in a reasonably safe condition, and to take reasonable care for the safety of Stefaniak and protect her from reasonably foreseeable criminal conduct by third parties and employees and agents.”
“What happened to my sister wasn’t just some coincidence,” Mario Caicedo told the Miami Herald. “Someone has to take responsibility
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Carla never boarded her flight back to Miami on November 28. Authorities said she was attacked before could make her flight, inside Apartment 8 at the Airbnb Villa La Mas. Martinez, who stayed in Apartment 7, was arrested earlier this month in connection with Carla’s murder.
According to the head of the Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Department, Walter Espinoza, the 36-year-old lost her life due to a possible sexual assault. Authorities found Carla partially nude, wrapped in a plastic bag and buried behind the Airbnb she stayed at. Espinoza declined to elaborate on the details of the attack, but indicated the victim had been hit on the head and stabbed on the neck and arms.
A medical examiner reportedly wrote that Carla died from the neck wounds.
Authorities also found evidence of a struggle inside Apartment 8, including blood and fluids that are currently being processed at a state lab. Investigators continue to look for evidence, including Carla’s luggage, which has yet to be found.
“I guess that Carla fought,” the victim’s father, Carlos Caicedo Sr., told ABC Action News. “[They] cut the jugular and then [attacked] the head after.”
Carla’s brother, Carlos Caicedo Jr., said that he spoke with Martinez when the family arrived in Costa Rica earlier this week to search for the victim. Martinez apparently told Caicedo Jr. and Carla’s sister-in-law, April Burton, that he last saw Carla at 5 a.m. on November 28, leaving the Airbnb with her luggage.
“We went to the villa. This guy shook our hands, looked us in the eye and told us his fake story,” Caicedo Jr. said. “I can’t believe it.”
Burton, who left a day early to return to the U.S. while Carla decided to stay an extra day alone, said Martinez told her that Carla got into an Uber early morning on November 28, despite her flight not leaving until later in the afternoon.
“The guard told us that she left at 5 in the morning with all of her bags and got into an Uber. She wouldn’t do that; her flight was at 1:30 p.m. She’s never been early for anything in her life she wouldn’t leave to go to the airport at 5:30 a.m.,” Burton told ABC Action News.
According to police, Martinez, from Nicaragua, was an immigrant to Costa Rica, and had been staying there since June. Authorities indicated that he was working at the Airbnb without proper documentation. The Airbnb management is said to be cooperating with law enforcement.
Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: Carla Stefaniak, Handout/Bismark Espinosa Martinez, Facebook]