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Tourist killed in Costa Rica suffered a violent death, says her father



Little did Caicedo know that the man would turn out to be a suspected murderer of his sister.

"We went to the mansion, this guy shook our hands, looks us in the eye, he tells his false story," said Caicedo. "And we could not feel anything about this guy, I just can not believe it."

Caicedo's sister, Carla Stefaniak, has since been declared dead. Her body was found near the apartment complex where she was at the end of a vacation to celebrate her 36th birthday.

A Nicaraguan citizen, Bismarck Espinoza Martinez, 32, was arrested in connection with the death of Stefaniak. He was a security guard in the apartment complex where Stefaniak's Airbnb was located.

"How cold-hearted can you be?" Caicedo told WPLG. "And such a monster, because you have to be something else, man, to do that."

  Stefaniak was friendly, bubbly and loved traveling, her sister-in-law said.

Stefaniak, a US citizen and the inhabitant of South Florida, was missing last month while staying in the apartment outside the Costa Rican capital of San Jose.

According to Walter Espinoza, a spokesman for the Department of Judicial Investigation in Costa Rica, about 300 meters from the apartment complex, a partially decayed body was found on Monday.

According to her father, who is also known as Carlos Caicedo, the body showed signs of violent death.

"It was a death that was absolutely violent," he said in an interview with CNN en Español. "And we wonder why, we have no explanation."

Her family confirmed in a Facebook post early Wednesday morning that her father had seen the body and she belonged to Stefaniak.

Autopsy revealed multiple stab wounds on the "cervical and upper extremities" as well as blunt force injuries to the head, said government spokesman Espinoza.

There were also stains in the apartment where she was staying, "which are compatible with blood and will undergo further examinations and comparisons," he said.

The suspect was in the next apartment, officials say

Espinoza Martinez was in the apartment next to Stefaniak's apartment, government spokesman Espinoza said.

"The person associated with this murder (Espinoza Martinez) was close to her and had time and place to commit the crime," he said.

Detectives interviewing people who had contact with Espinoza became suspicious when they realized that his statements were contradictory, Espinoza said.

The guard told Stefaniak's relatives that he had last seen her at around 5 am on November 28 and had gone to an Uber to go to the airport, according to Leandro Fernandez, a friend of the victim.

But that did not make sense, Fernandez said to WSVN because Stefaniak's escape did not begin until noon.

The family later learned that there were no records of that day in Stefaniak's Uber Report, Fernandez said.

The victim celebrated her birthday

Stefaniak's sister-in-law, April Burton, told CNN They went to Costa Rica to celebrate Stefaniak's 36th birthday. They had traveled together for six days, staying in beach towns outside of San Jose, before Stefaniak Burton parked at the airport on November 27th and returned her rental car.

Stefaniak is expected to leave the following morning, according to CNN member WSVN.

But her relatives were worried last week when she stopped contacting them and did not flew home from Costa Rica.

A friend of Stefaniak in New York was the last known person to contact her, Caicedo told CNN en Español. Stefaniak told her friend that she was very thirsty and wanted to leave her airbnb to get some water, but it was raining too hard outside.

Until then, "I've had constant contact with her," said Caicedo. "She would send videos and texts."

During her travels, Stefaniak told her father, "This is a safe country and we feel really safe."

  Killing Tourists Shakes Costa Rica's Reputation as Safe Destination

Caicedo said he would Remember his daughter as a happy and enthusiastic person who always smiled, he said.

"She had no enemies, no," he said, adding that it took him a long time to find a picture of his daughter on which she did not smile because "that was the kind of woman she was. "

CNN's Natalie Gallon and Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.


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