Miami-Dade County

Miami woman ‘vanished’ during a trip in Costa Rica. Her family needs your help

A Miami woman has “vanished” from an Airbnb rental in Costa Rica, her family says.

Carla Stefaniak, 36 , has been missing since Tuesday. She was scheduled to return home from vacation on Wednesday. The next day, authorities in Costa Rica opened an investigation, and now her family is pleading for the public’s help.

“Carla Stefaniak is STILL MISSING. I cannot stress enough how crucial it is that we keep sharing her story. We cannot let the authorities forget her and let this go.,” posted her sister-in-law, April Burton, on Facebook. “We want to bring our girl back home!”

Stefaniak’s family and friends, who live in Tampa, have not heard from her since she texted them from her Airbnb rental on Tuesday night to say the power was going in and out. Burton was in Costa Rica with Stefaniak celebrating her birthday but returned to Florida the day before.

“Stefaniak dropped Burton off at the airport in San Jose on Nov. 27 and returned their rental car. Stefaniak then took an Uber to an Airbnb about 30 minutes from the airport,” said Katie Gardner, the family’s spokesperson. “The same Uber driver drove Stefaniak sightseeing and shopping.”

According to Gardner, Stefaniak texted Burton updates and photos throughout the late afternoon. That evening, back at the Airbnb, the sisters-in-law continued to text. Burton received her last text from Stefaniak around 8 p.m.

“At midnight Eastern time, Burton texted Stefaniak to wish her a happy birthday but did not receive a response,” Gardner said. “The next day, Burton got a call from a friend who said Stefaniak had not responded to any happy birthday texts or messages. Alarmed, they discovered Stefaniak had never boarded her flight home, which was scheduled for departure around 1 p.m. on Nov. 28.”

According to Stefaniak’s family, the family has since spoken to the Uber driver, who shared the same story as the Airbnb owner and local security guards: that Stefaniak was seen leaving the rental around 5 a.m. with her luggage and then hopping into a mysterious car.

Stefaniak’s brother flew from Tampa to Costa Rica and is working with authorities to try to find his sister.

“The Uber driver arrived around 8 a.m. to pick up Stefaniak but could not find her,” Gardner said. “However, her family says the story does not make sense since her flight was not until that afternoon and the airport was only 30 minutes away. And since she had already used that Uber driver the day before, why would she have called a different Uber?”

Stefaniak, who works at an insurance agency in Miami, immigrated to Tampa from Venezuela in 2000. She moved to Miami in 2012.

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