Florida woman slain in Costa Rica a ‘happy soul'

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP/WFLA) - A friend of a Miami woman who was slain while on vacation in Costa Rica says his friend was a "happy soul" who made everyone laugh and had a large social media presence.

Carla Stefaniak was found dead near her Airbnb rental on Monday. She'd checked in on Nov. 27 into the Villa le Mas, near San Jose, and was supposed to return to Florida the next day.

Friend Bugra Demirel of Tallahassee said in a telephone interview that the 36-year-old insurance agent, loved to travel and post photos on Instagram.

For her birthday, she and her sister-in-law decided to visit Costa Rica for a short trip.

Her last Instagram photo was Nov. 25. It featured her in a turquoise bathing suit, lying near a pool with tropical plants in the background. She wrote, "I'm going to miss the place." 

Resort security guard  Bismark Espinosa Martinez, 32, has been arrested in connection with her death. Costa Rica. Investigators say blood was found in his nearby apartment.

Airbnb says it has removed the vacation rental listing in Costa Rica where Stefaniak was staying when she was slain. Stefaniak spent the night at the Villa le Mas, near San Jose, on Nov. 27. According to its listing on TripAdvisor, the Villa le Mas is a compound with seven vacation apartments. Villa Le Mas's attorney, Federico Jenkins, said the owners are cooperating with the authorities in the investigation.

A Facebook page was created to help find Stefaniak after her disappearance. On Thursday morning, the page posted the following update:

Good Morning Everyone,

We wanted to share with you a few things.

The first thing, we want to thank each and every single person that supported us in our mission of #FindingCarla this includes everyone that donated, shared our page/posts, encouraged us, provided contacts etc + local and national representatives, authorities and the media. Though we can’t thank each person individually or respond to every message please know that in our hearts we are extremely grateful for your help and support. We truly couldn’t have done it without you ❤️

Second, we wanted to show you the “We” behind #FindingCarla. The photos here show each person that dropped everything in their lives and dedicated everything to #FindingCarla. Many of us knew one another but the greater majority didn’t and met through this tragic situation. That’s what Carla did though, she brought people together and she was always there for each one of us in one way or anthoer, big or small, she was a true friend. For one last time Carla Stefaniak brought together not only this group of people but all of you as well.
Through this our team has learned a lot and a number of stories have been shared with us from supporters that we feel are crucial to share in an effort to assure something like this doesn’t happen again. We will continue to update but for now we will need to grieve and remember our dear friend, Carla Stefaniak

Again, we can’t thank you enough for helping, supporting, donating, sharing and pushing with us! Thank you and Gracias! #FindingCarla #CostaRica #CarlaStefaniak #ThankYou

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