What should have been a fun birthday trip in Costa Rica for 36-year-old Carla Stefaniak has now turned into tragedy for her family. The woman, a Miami resident born in Venezuela, had gone to Costa Rica to celebrate her birthday with her sister-in-law, but when she didn’t arrive home on November 28, and her family got worried.
Carla Stefaniak last spoke to friends and family on November 27.
It was on the day that she dropped off her sister-in-law at the airport. Stefaniak was scheduled to leave the following day. Stefaniak took an Uber from the airport and was reportedly going to do some sightseeing around San Jose, the BBC reports, before she was ultimately dropped back at her Airbnb.
That evening she texted with family and friends and sent an ominous message that left her family feeling worried.
She told them that the power had gone out due to the heavy rain and also called the area where she was staying in as “pretty sketchy.” By this point, Stefaniak had already checked in to her flight, and scheduled an Uber to pick her up and take her to the airport the following day.
According to her family, the Airbnb rental owner and the local security guards claim that they saw Stefaniak “get into an unknown car with her luggage at around 05:00 local time.”
However, her family says that scenario “makes no sense.” Officials there also claim that they didn’t initially investigate the situation because she got into a car willingly.
Costa Rican officials report that they have found a body 200 feet from the Airbnb where Stefaniak had been staying.
The family is currently at the morgue awaiting to see if the body is their daughter.
“For the last four hours they are just there waiting,” family friend and spokesperson Bugra Demirel, told the BBC. “It’s a horrible wait, and every single minute that Costa Rican officials are not showing the body is just a tremendous amount of pain on the family.”
Since the day that Stefaniak was scheduled to arrive home but did not, her family launched a Facebook page for their daughter in which they claim Stefaniak was kidnapped.
Just a couple of days ago they posted: “HOW TO HELP: We are doing everything we can to get the U.S. Department of State: Consular Affairs to utilize their resources to help us bring Carla Stefaniak back home safely! This is what we need to get the FBI more involved and for them to be allowed to utilize their resources!!. WE NEED HELP IN NUMBERS!! If you would like to help please copy the below “Official Statement” and send it to your local congress representative, governor or the state department at email –> ProtocolHelp@state.gov You can also tweet this link –> https://gma.abc/2RziRlj to these twitter addresses and write “Please Help, American Tourist Kidnapped in Costa Rica.”
Demirel told the BBC that while the family is hoping for the best, they understand that the body found could in fact be their daughter.
“Even the best circumstance is really a nightmare scenario — we’re hoping it’s not Carla, but then it’s somebody else’s daughter,” Demirel said. “We’re hoping it’s not Carla based on what we know, but there’s still a lot of possibility that it could be.”
The family also reports on Facebook that they have no updates as of yet. “The wait is so painful but all the love and support for Carla and the family is beyond amazing! We will update everyone as soon as we know! Thank you so much!”