Things That Matter

Costa Rican Officials Find A Body They Believe Could Be That Of Missing Miami Woman

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.

CREDIT: facebook.com/findingcarla

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.

CREDIT: facebook.com/findingcarla

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.”

CREDIT: facebook.com/findingcarla

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.

CREDIT: facebook.com/findingcarla

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!”


READ: This Woman’s Body Was Found A Week After She Disappeared. Latinos Are Furious Mass Media Didn’t Cover Her Story

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This Is Why It’s Not A Good Idea To Take A Selfie With Wild Animals In Costa Rica

Things That Matter

This Is Why It’s Not A Good Idea To Take A Selfie With Wild Animals In Costa Rica

SaltyyRose / Instagram

When you think of Costa Rica, what do you think of? Maybe its volcanoes? Or possibly its luxurious beaches? Or maybe just the fact that it’s home to some of the happiest people on the planet? Well, now you’ll know Costa Rica for something else: its animal conservation efforts. How, you ask? Through discouraging tourist selfies with wild animals.

Warning: there are some confronting animal selfies below – so best avoid reading further if you don’t want to see them.

Costa Rica is the leader when it comes to public consciousness around selfies with animals.

Instagram / @consoglobe

While it’s common to see a polite sign here and there in tourist spots asking visitors to be respectful of animals, the Costa Rica Tourism Institute has now gone another step further by launching a social media campaign against the practice of taking selfies with wild animals. We probably shouldn’t be surprised – with 20 national parks, in addition to a bunch of reserves, animal refuges and protected areas, 26 percent of Costa Rica’s land is protected in the name of conservation. It only seems natural that Costa Rica would also pioneer a campaign on Insta under the simple hashtag #stopanimalselfies.

Chances are you’re probably, like us, wondering why the campaign isn’t using a Spanish hashtag.

Credit: giajurado / Instagram

The Costa Rican government are one step ahead: they know that the main offenders chasing wild animal selfies are English-speaking tourists, so they’re largely focusing their efforts on communicating with said English-speaking tourists.

“Our visitors must know the negative impact caused by selfies and photos showing direct contact with wild animals. Our goal and responsibility as global leaders in environmental issues is to educate and encourage new world ambassadors committed to wildlife protection,” said the Vice Minister of Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), Pamela Castillo, when asked about the initiative in an interview with CNN Travel.

It’s worth knowing that there are quite a number of reasons to refrain from taking selfies with wild animals. 

Credit: zoovarta / Instagram

The first, and biggest, reason to not take selfies with wild animals is that, because they’re not tame animals, they’ll likely freak out if you try to get close up and personal with them. Wild animals definitely don’t understand what the heck a selfie is, and trying to take one with them will likely endanger both you and the animal. Who’s to say that the wild animal won’t try to land a scratch on someone trying to get a selfie with it – and that person won’t try to defend themselves? And who’s to say that such a scratch won’t become infected? It’s a much better time on your vacation if you don’t get an infection.

Another thing to think about is that interaction with humans that really mess up a wild animal’s life.

Credit: saltyyrose / Instagram

For starters, it may scare the animals away from their natural habitat, which essentially risks scaring them away from reliable food sources and a safe environment. Traumatized animals may have trouble having babies – which can cause a decline in the animal population. These are all things we definitely want to avoid. Especially since Costa Rica is home to some species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Some people use the opportunity to make money at the expense of animals’ well-being.

Credit: da_cherry_bomb / Instagram

Possibly the worst thing to come out of the taking-selfies-with-wild-animals trend is that there are some less scrupulous humans who see it as a potential source of income. Yes, that means that they charge to get people up close and personal with unique animals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these animals are well-cared for, or even tame, for that matter. They’re just kept in captivity for a quick buck. Yikes.

The good news is that there are alternatives available.

Credit: juan
Instagram / @juanvainasychibolo

Just because you can’t take a selfie with a wild animal doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get a photo with them. Animal rights group World Animal Protection has said that it’s a-OK to take a “selfie” with wild animals if you’re a safe distance from them. Think along the lines of a photo where you look like you’re photobombing from the front. Another two things that World Animal Protection has stipulated make for an ethical wildlife photo-taking are pictures where the animal is in its natural home, and is free to move. Basically, snaps of animals in the wild, undisturbed, just doing their thing, are totally fine.

On the other hand, the Costa Rican Tourism Institute has also offered alternatives to selfies with wild animals

Instagram / @jerryntaz

Juan Santamaría International Airport currently has a setup where you can take cute selfies with plushies. Not only will this mean that you can contribute to the movement of people avoiding animal exploitation, joining an ethical movement will also do so much more for your social media clout anyways.

The 3-Year-Old Girl Who Survived Her Father’s Pembroke Pines Massacre Finds Family

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The 3-Year-Old Girl Who Survived Her Father’s Pembroke Pines Massacre Finds Family

On a tragic evening in August, three-year-old Adriana Colon played the most frightening game of hide-and-seek in her short life. Enraged by claims that his wife, Sandra, had been having an affair, Pablo Colon Jr. began a gun-fueled rampage through their home in the Grand Palms Golf and Country Club neighborhood of Pembroke Pines, Florida, a gated community described by neighbors as “quiet.” Meanwhile, Adriana remained still, tucked under a blanket as her father murdered her mother, grandmother, and twin sister, all before turning one of two handguns on himself.

At the time of the massacre, the Colons had been renting their home in Pembroke Pines for just six months. Pablo and Sandra had met 10 years earlier, and after giving birth to their twin girls, opted to move from Fort Lauderdale in search of more space for their growing family. Sandra’s mother, Olga Alvarez, had moved in with them a few months prior to the events of August 25. It was Alvarez who made the original 911 call, an urgent plea to the local authorities punctuated by desperate cries of terror.

“He’s going to kill her,” she yelled in Spanish.

Colon Family / GoFundMe

At 8:28 p.m. on August 25, Olga Alvarez called the police, frantically shifting between Spanish and English in an attempt to seek help. After telling the operator that “he’s going to kill [Sandra],” she yelled, “Don’t! Don’t!” And then the call went silent.

Moments later, Alvarez told the operator, “La mató.” Pablo Colon had murdered his wife, and Alvarez knew she would be next.

Several moments passed before Alvarez asserted that Pablo “was going to hurt her.” Sobbing into the phone, she urged, “Quick—save the children.” After the line went silent again, Pablo Colon’s voice appeared, cursing at Alvarez in Spanish. Alvarez insisted, “I didn’t know, I didn’t know!” To which Pablo Colon replied: “Now you die—right?”

As this all unfolded, Pablo Colon spoke with his cousin, Cesar De La Hoz, about what he had done.

PCA Electrical Services, Inc.

At 8:49 p.m., the wife of Cesar De La Hoz called 911 after De La Hoz had spoken to Colon directly. 

“He said he killed his wife and the two kids,” she told the operator, while De La Hoz was heard speaking again to Colon in the background. Through tears, De La Hoz’s wife then told the dispatcher of Colon’s plan to commit suicide. 

On that same 911 call, De La Hoz was heard trying to persuade his cousin not to harm himself. “Just put the gun away,” he insisted. “Listen to me, primo. It’s not over.” After hanging up with Colon, De La Hoz hurried to the family’s house in Pembroke Pines, arriving at the same time as a police officer.

De La Hoz attempted once more to reach his cousin, encouraging him to surrender to the police. Colon was frantic and inconsolable, and after multiple attempts to calm him down, he told De La Hoz, “Goodbye,” then hung up the phone.

Three hours after the initial 911 call, SWAT officers entered the Colon residence. 

Miami Herald

On the second floor, at the foot of the staircase, they found one of Colon’s twin daughters, shot dead in her pajamas. In the adjacent master bedroom, Colon lay dead, facedown on the floor with a pistol in his hand. The bodies of Sandra Colon and Olga Alvarez were there, as well, and both had suffered fatal gunshots to the head.

While the SWAT team investigated the upstairs scene, another officer searched the ground floor. Live ammunition rounds from a black 9 mm Luger pistol and a .380 Smith & Wesson pistol were scattered all over the floor. When the officer noticed a blanket under the kitchen table, he pulled it back to reveal the other twin girl, Adriana. She was alive.

Two days after the attack, numerous relatives appeared in court for Adriana’s custody hearing. A judge ruled that she would stay with family, and she is currently in the process of being formally adopted. 

Dominique Pinzon / GoFundMe

Pablo Colon’s cousin, Dominique Pinzon, said that the events of August 25 came as a horrible surprise to the entire family. Relatives knew that the couple had issues to work on—as any marriage does—but they never suspected such a violent outcome was possible. Pinzon asserts that different members of the family are grieving in their own way, but everyone is focused on reminding Adriana that she is loved and making her feel safe.

“She’s in the best hands, and she’s going to be loved and cared for for the rest of her life,” said Pinzon to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Currently, Adriana is seeing a grief counselor and enjoying time with family. Pinzon has set up a GoFundMe page to support Adriana’s future.