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February 22, 2019

US-Venezuelan tourist killed in Costa Rica: police

US-Venezuelan tourist killed in Costa Rica: police
'The murder of a US tourist has dealt a fresh blow to Costa Rica's image as a tourist destination' - By: AFP/File EZEQUIEL BECERRA

A fingerprint test has confirmed the murder of a Venezuelan-born American tourist who had been missing for over a week, police said Wednesday.

The body found in the mountainous area of San Antonio de Escazu, southwest of the capital, where the tourist was staying, "is that of Carla Lucia Stefaniak, 36, who had been reported missing," the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) said.

The body, exhibiting stab wounds and a severe blow to the head, was found on Monday near Stefaniak's hotel, OIJ chief Walter Espinoza said.

Her identity was confirmed after the US Federal Bureau of Investigation sent fingerprints that were compared to those of the body.

Nicaraguan national Bismarck Espinoza Martinez, 32, was arrested as a suspect in the homicide. He will be held in preventive detention for three months while the case is being investigated, prosecutors said.

"Words cannot express the devastation within her family and friends. We want the world to know that we will never forget Carla," the victim's family said on a dedicated Facebook page, "Finding Carla."

"We will never forget the joy she brought into our lives, how much she made us laugh. We will always be with her and we know she will always be with us."

Stefaniak's father, Carlos Caicedo, was able to view the body late Tuesday, when he identified it as his daughter's.

The murder was a fresh blow to Costa Rica's image as a tourist destination, after a Mexican tourist and one from Spain were killed in separate incidents in August.

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