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Body found in search for American woman missing in Costa Rica

By
Clyde Hughes and Allen Cone
Authorities said they found a body Monday on an Airbnb property in Costa Rica where Carla Stefaniak, 36, of Miami, went missing six days ago. Photo courtesy Finding Carla/Facebook
Authorities said they found a body Monday on an Airbnb property in Costa Rica where Carla Stefaniak, 36, of Miami, went missing six days ago. Photo courtesy Finding Carla/Facebook

Dec. 3 (UPI) - Searchers found a body on an Airbnb property in Costa Rica where a 36-year-old Miami woman went missing six days ago, authorities said Monday.

Carla Stefaniak missed her flight home Wednesday, one day after she was last seen in a villa in San Antonio de Escazu outside the capital ofSan Jose.

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The body was buried in a mountainous area in the back of the property, less than 200 feet from where Stefaniak had been staying, Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Agency told WFTS-TV in Tampa, where the woman's family lives. WTVJ-TV in Miami also reported the discovery.

Specialized dogs searched for the missing woman.

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"The body was in a state of decomposition but the preliminary observation does verify the body is a woman," Walter Espinoza, the director general of the OIJ, said.

In addition, Espinoza said biological fluids consistent with blood were discovered inside the Airbnb property.

The blood will be tested and the identity determined in an autopsy, Espinoza said.

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Family representative Katie Gardner said Stefaniak dropped off her sister-in-law, April Burton, at the airport in San Jose on Tuesday, and returned the rental car, the Miami Herald reported. Stefaniak then hailed a ride back to the Airbnb rental, about 30 minutes from the airport.

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Gardner said the same Uber driver took her and Stefaniak sightseeing and shopping.

A number of text messages sent after midnight on Tuesday were not returned, the family said.

The family said it's frustrated by what they believe is a lack of urgency among U.S. and Costa Rican officials. A state department spokeswoman told WTLV-TV it's actively looking for Stefaniak.

"The U.S. Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad have no greater responsibility than the protection of U.S. citizens overseas," the official said. "When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment."

Airbnb told WFTS-TV in a statement that "we have reached out to Carla's family to support them as best we can."

Stefaniak worked as an insurance agent in Miami after emigrating to Florida from Venezuela in 2000. Before moving to Miami, she lived in Tampa for about 10 years.

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