Body found in Costa Rican villa identified as Florida woman

Blanche Robertson
December 6, 2018

"Words can not express the devastation within her family and friends", her relatives said in a statement. "The family is just trying to process this hard time".

Airbnb removed Villa le Mas - a compound with seven vacation apartments - from its site and said Wednesday that it had reached out to family members to offer condolences.

Meanwhile, the lawyer representing the complex that houses the Airbnb told WFTS they were "deeply saddened and devastated by the tragic events that occurred last week" and said that the owners were cooperating with authorities.

A Florida woman who was reported missing after a birthday trip to Costa Rica was found dead on Monday near the Airbnb where she was vacationing.

"He said her phone died", Burton said last week, "and that was the last we heard from her".

Stefaniak's tearful dad Carlos confirmed late Tuesday that the body found was that of his daughter.

"Words can not express the devastation within her family and friends", the Facebook post said.

"We will make sure this case is not closed like many others in Costa Rica", said a post on a Facebook page that has been updated by a family friend.

"We will never forget the joy she brought into our lives, how much she made us laugh".

"May God bless her soul".

Stefaniak's family confirmed overnight that her body was the one found Monday in a mountainous area behind the Airbnb she was staying at. She Facetimed a friend in NY, telling him she was going to ask the security guard to buy her a bottle of water. She had been hit in the head and had cuts on her neck and arms, an autopsy showed.

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The radio silence was "unusual" for Grace, Declan Millane said. 'Her family member is coming out - obviously, they're distraught. Grace, 22, was staying at Base Backpackers in Auckland but has not contacted her family since Thursday.

According to CNN, a partially decomposed body was discovered on December 3, about 1,000 feet from the Airbnb where she was staying.

Costa Rican officials arrested 32-year-old Bismark Espinosa Martinez, a guard at the resort near the Costa Rican capital.

Blood is also believed to have been found in his nearby apartment.

Detectives who interviewed people who had contact with the suspect, Espinoza Martinez, before Stefaniak went missing on November 28 grew suspicious when they noticed his statements were contradictory, Espinoza, the government spokesman, told reporters.

"That's when we knew that something's not right", she said. But her flight was scheduled for 1 p.m., and she was only 20 or 30 minutes from the airport.

"The person linked to this homicide (Espinoza Martinez) was close to her and had the time and place to commit the crime", the spokesman said.

Stefaniak traveled to Costa Rica to celebrate her 36th birthday, according to the family.

Stefaniak went on the trip to Costa Rica to celebrate her birthday with her sister-in-law, April Burton.

Burton told CBS News that Stefaniak had dropped her off at the airport on November 27, then returned their rental vehicle and taken an Uber to a gated villa that she had found on Airbnb. Electricity had been going in and out at the rental and she texted her family "it's pretty sketchy here".

She then had a FaceTime call with a friend and mentioned that she might ask a security guard at the Airbnb to buy her water because of the storm.

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