SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Costa Rican authorities said Tuesday that they found what appears to be the body of a missing South Florida woman who was on vacation in the Central American country to celebrate her 36th birthday and that a suspect had been detained.
Walter Espinoza, head of the country's Judicial Investigation Department, said officials were comparing fingerprints to confirm the identity. An autopsy revealed that the victim suffered a blunt force wound to the head and lacerations on the neck and arms, he said.
A Facebook page set up by friends of the missing woman, Carla Stefaniak, said family members went to the morgue in San Jose on Tuesday to identify the body, but were turned away by local authorities.
The body was found covered in plastic bags near an Airbnb apartment that was rented by Stefaniak, who went missing nearly a week ago. A Gofundme account said she was last heard from around 8 p.m. on Nov. 27 and she didn't show up for her 1 p.m. flight home the next day.
Police discovered what appeared to be blood in the apartment where Stefaniak stayed in the San Antonio de Escazu neighborhood, and analyzed surveillance video from the apartment complex.
Espinoza said the images in the video did not align with statements made by the building's security guard, a 32-year-old Nicaraguan who police detained for further questioning.
"The case continues to be under investigation," Espinoza said.
Officials have sealed off the apartment to protect evidence.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that Stefaniak's last message to her family said: "It's pretty sketchy here," and that the power was out and it was pouring rain.