Brother of tourist killed in Costa Rica shook hands with her suspected killer, report says

When Carlos Caicedo went to Costa Rica to search for his missing sister, he shook hands with the security gu...

Posted: Dec 7, 2018 1:00 PM
Updated: Dec 7, 2018 1:00 PM

When Carlos Caicedo went to Costa Rica to search for his missing sister, he shook hands with the security guard at the apartment where she was staying and listened to what the man knew, Caicedo told CNN affiliate WPLG.

Little did Caicedo know the man would turn out to be his sister's suspected killer.

Central America

Continents and regions

Costa Rica

Latin America

The Americas

Deaths and fatalities

Society

Tourism

Travel and tourism

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal offenses

Homicide

Crime prevention

Private security services

"We went to the villa. This guy shook our hands, looks us in the eyes, he tells his fake story," Caicedo said. "And we couldn't feel anything from this guy. Like, I just can't believe it."

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

A Nicaraguan national, Bismarck Espinoza Martinez, 32, has been taken into custody in connection to Stefaniak's death, according to Costa Rican officials. He was a security guard at 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 something like this."

Stefaniak, a US citizen and South Florida resident, went missing late last month while staying at the apartment outside the Costa Rican capital of San Jose.

On Monday, a partially decomposed body was found about 300 yards from the apartment complex, according to Walter Espinoza, a spokesman for Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Department.

The body showed signs of a violent death, according to her father, who is also named Carlos Caicedo.

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

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

An autopsy showed multiple stab wounds to the "neck and upper extremities," as well as blunt force trauma to the head, Espinoza, the government spokesman, said.

There were also stains inside the apartment where she stayed "which are compatible with blood and which will be submitted to further investigation and comparison," he said.

Suspect was staying in next apartment, officials say

Espinoza Martinez had been staying in the apartment next to Stefaniak's rental, said Espinoza, the government spokesman.

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

Detectives who interviewed people who had contact with Espinoza Martinez grew suspicious when they noticed his statements were contradictory, Espinoza said.

The security guard told Stefaniak's relatives he last saw her around 5 a.m. on November 28, getting into an Uber to go to the airport, according to Leandro Fernandez, a friend of the victim.

But that didn't make sense, Fernandez told WSVN, because Stefaniak's flight out wasn't until midday.

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

Victim was celebrating her birthday

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

Stefaniak was expected to fly out the next morning, according to CNN affiliate WSVN.

But her relatives grew concerned last week when she stopped contacting them and was not on her flight home from Costa Rica.

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

Up until that point, "I had constant communication with her," Caicedo said. "She would send videos, texts."

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

Caicedo said he would remember his daughter as a happy and enthusiastic person who was always smiling, he said.

"She had no enemies, none," he said, adding it took him a long time to find a picture of his daughter where she wasn't smiling because "that was the type of woman she was."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 95659

Reported Deaths: 2056
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin26960930
Ramsey10911320
Dakota7524126
Anoka6092133
Stearns401024
Washington379955
Scott257433
Olmsted244628
Nobles197116
Blue Earth16996
Wright16327
St. Louis160241
Carver14197
Clay138940
Rice13358
Mower13285
Sherburne115014
Kandiyohi10112
Winona88718
Lyon6954
Waseca6698
Benton5523
Steele5472
Freeborn5424
Nicollet54016
Watonwan5284
Crow Wing51618
Todd4952
Chisago4941
McLeod4882
Le Sueur4674
Otter Tail4414
Beltrami4215
Martin40810
Goodhue3659
Itasca32814
Pine3280
Douglas3102
Polk3054
Isanti2971
Becker2802
Carlton2701
Morrison2492
Dodge2390
Cottonwood2250
Pipestone22510
Chippewa2141
Meeker2022
Wabasha1960
Sibley1923
Brown1912
Yellow Medicine1822
Cass1804
Rock1730
Unassigned17052
Redwood1673
Mille Lacs1643
Murray1642
Renville1518
Jackson1481
Faribault1450
Swift1381
Houston1280
Kanabec1258
Roseau1230
Koochiching1223
Fillmore1200
Pennington1191
Lincoln1110
Hubbard1031
Stevens1031
Pope940
Big Stone820
Aitkin801
Wadena690
Wilkin653
Grant614
Lake590
Lac qui Parle581
Norman540
Marshall521
Mahnomen481
Red Lake451
Traverse310
Clearwater270
Lake of the Woods221
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 85533

Reported Deaths: 1305
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15872262
Woodbury544764
Johnson512627
Black Hawk448990
Linn4010111
Story344417
Dubuque325741
Scott301128
Dallas278538
Pottawattamie211338
Buena Vista199112
Marshall178434
Sioux16183
Wapello133357
Webster125514
Plymouth114121
Clinton112121
Muscatine110855
Crawford10885
Cerro Gordo105721
Warren9566
Jasper83832
Des Moines7848
Marion7637
Henry7434
Tama71331
Carroll6625
Lee6377
Wright5811
Dickinson5276
Boone5078
Bremer4927
Washington45911
Louisa42915
Mahaska41219
Delaware4023
Floyd3493
Jackson3493
Franklin34818
Winneshiek3356
Clay3264
Lyon3264
Hamilton3223
Benton3101
Winnebago30313
Hardin2991
Poweshiek2958
Buchanan2791
Jones2743
Butler2702
Kossuth2700
Shelby2671
Clarke2653
Emmet26510
Allamakee2616
Clayton2523
Chickasaw2500
Sac2500
Cherokee2492
Cedar2461
Guthrie2456
Fayette2222
Harrison2223
Grundy2203
Madison2192
Iowa2091
Palo Alto2020
Humboldt1903
Mitchell1900
Howard1886
Hancock1842
Calhoun1833
Mills1801
Page1700
Cass1682
Osceola1610
Monroe15911
Pocahontas1592
Lucas1566
Monona1531
Jefferson1381
Appanoose1363
Union1353
Taylor1301
Davis1244
Ida1221
Fremont1180
Van Buren1141
Keokuk1091
Worth1080
Greene1010
Montgomery965
Wayne862
Audubon821
Adair721
Decatur670
Ringgold502
Adams330
Unassigned170
Rochester
Broken Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 61°
Mason City
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 64°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 63°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 63°
Charles City
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 61°
Much Cooler Week Ahead
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events