Body found during search for USA tourist missing in Costa Rica

Missing woman Carla Stefaniak 36

The suspect, 32-year-old Bismarck Espinosa Martinez, had been in the room next door to Ms Stefaniak, and made conflicting statements to police, said officials. He was a guard at the Villa Buena Vista, located in a suburb of San Jose called Escazu.

Walter Espinoza, head of the country's Judicial Investigation Department, said the body found Monday near the Airbnb where Carla Stefaniak had been staying has been identified as her. The body was wrapped in plastic bags and half-buried in a mountainous, wooded corner of the resort's property.

An autopsy conducted Tuesday found stab wounds on the arms and neck.

The investigation remains ongoing.

"This is a complex, hard case, and we're doing all that we can within our ability to solve the case", Espinoza said at a news conference.

Her sister-in-law, April Burton, accompanied her on the trip but left on November 27 because of a prior commitment.

When she got there, she FaceTimed a friend.

"The family has yet to see the body and they were in the process of securing dental records for the examiners!"

"The family has not confirmed the identity by viewing or providing DNA samples", the family's Facebook page noted.

Costa Rican authorities also revealed more about events leading up to Stefaniak's disappearance.

The property in which Carla Stefaniak, a tourist from the United States, was renting an apartment through Airbnb. "That means that this person acquired a suspicious tone". Costa Rican officials told ABC Action News that the body, which also appeared to have stab wounds, was still awaiting forensic identification, a process in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation would assist.

Espinoza moved to Costa Rica in June 2018. In recent years, reviews have been mainly negative. The two had been in the Central American country driving around and taking in the sights as part of a birthday celebration for Stefaniak. But they couldn't get flights out on the same day, Jaime said. But when Stefaniak never got off the plane on Wednesday, her family knew something was wrong.

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"It was her birthday, and she loves to be on social media", Stefaniak's brother, Carlos Caicedo, told CBS News.

The last message Burton received from her was: "It's pretty sketchy here".

"Carla is very communicative".

"I saw everyone arrive", she said. Caicedo said something didn't add up because his sister's flight was scheduled for 1:30 later that day and she was "never early for anything".

Burton flew home on November 27, and Stefaniak's flight was booked for the 28th.

A U.S. State Department official said Monday that the department was aware of a missing U.S. citizen in Costa Rica and is working with local authorities in their search efforts.

Caicedo said the owner of the Airbnb told him a security guard watched his sister get into a vehicle with her bags at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning.

The Uber driver apparently offered to give her a city tour and she agreed.

"'I'm just gonna go ask the guards to buy me a bottle of water.' He says that her phone died, and that's it", Burton said. "Carla wouldn't wake up at 5 a.m. for nothing".

Her family said they are skeptical of that story, however. Nothing showed a trip at 5 a.m.

Then the guard told a different story: It wasn't an Uber.

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