Death in Costa Rica: The Tragic Disappearance of Carla Stefaniak

Carla Stefaniak was a single, independent woman who took life by the horns. To celebrate her 36th birthday in November, she decided to travel to Costa Rica with her sister in law. Stefaniak chronicled her trip to Costa Rica on her Instagram profile. Carla Stefaniak’s Instagram showed many pictures of her solo travel, showing that she took life by the horns and waited for no one to start living.

Her sister in law returned home and Carla stayed 1 day later to finish enjoying her birthday trip. That evening, she face-timed her friend in the U.S. and the connection dropped. That would be the last time anyone heard from Carla Stefaniak.


Located in Central America, Costa Rica has over 1 million visitors a year and relies heavily on tourism to support their economy. Costa Rico has a lot to offer and a rich and vibrant culture that is a fusion of many other cultures. (Such as African, Chinese, and Indigenous people.) Costa Rica’s top tourist sites includes many of their natural resources and are also some of the best places to visit in Costa Rica. For instance, one of the most beautiful places in Puerto Rico is the active Irazu Volcano located near the capital of San Jose. Another great place to visit in Costa Rica is the Tortuguero Forest which hold many of Costa Rica’s beautiful wildlife.

Costa Rica is one of the best places to visit and is a very attractive destination to many looking for solo travel.

Which is why a beautiful location like this would be attractive to a social butterfly like Stefaniak. A frequent user of social media, her family immediately knew something was wrong. Her family contacted the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica and local law enforcement to alert them that Carla was missing. A witness stated that he saw her get into a car at 5 am to head to the airport. But her family says it couldn't be true because Stefaniak was frequently tardy and was 20-30 minutes away from the airport and wouldn't leave until later that afternoon.

Read: Best Tips To Stay Safe During Solo Travels

Carla Stefania Costa Rica

Naturally, people feared the worse and possible outcomes such as kidnapping or human trafficking were thrown around in efforts to figure out what happened to this wonderful woman full of life.

After searching for over 2 weeks, Stefaniak's body was found buried in the backyard of the Air BnB property where she was staying. She had been found partially nude, wrapped in plastic and badly decomposed. There was blood found inside of the home potentially due to the fact that the victim suffered from multiple stab wounds.

Carla Stefaniak in Costa Rica

Stefaniak's death was due to head trauma and the security guard, Bismark Espinosa Martinez, who lived in Costa Rica illegally was detained in connection to her disappearance and death, due to his conflicting stories.

The family has since cremated Stefaniak's body and state that there may have been several people involved with the abduction and murder of Carla. Upon further investigation, authorities confirmed that all her electronics had been turned off showing her last electronic footprint at the Air BnB, which her family had said had happened when they first discovered she was missing.

Currently, Espinosa is the only one in custody for her murder.

We should all share Carla Stefaniak's spirit and hunger for life. Many people in the United States and Costa Rica volunteered their time and energy in locating their beloved daughter, sister, and friend.

Finding Carla Stefaniak

A Facebook page called Finding Carla was established initially to bring awareness to her disappearance, but now keeps people informed of the case progression. Many others have also flocked to share their personal stories of the beloved traveler and how she affected their lives.

To help Carla Stefaniak's family, visit their GoFundme page for ways to make your contribution.