TAMPA, Fla. — It was supposed to be a short, quick trip overseas to balmy Costa Rica, but relatives of Carla Stefaniak are fearing the worst after she disappeared in the Central American country.
- Carla Stefaniak missing since Nov. 27
- She was not flight that returned to Tampa
- LINK: GoFundMe page to assist in search
- LINK: Flyer released by Costa Rica authorities
- LINK: Sister-in-law's Facebook page
Stefaniak and April Burton, Stefaniak's sister-in-law, traveled to Costa Rica Thanksgiving weekend. Burton returned November 27 because of a prior engagement with her husband. Sefaniak was expected back on the 28th.
"She was just going to be by herself for less than 24 hours," Burton said. "She was just going to see San Jose and relax at the AirBNB and go to her flight."
Burton spoke to Stefaniak several times during that 24-hour period that they were apart and said there was nothing out of the ordinary. Stefaniak's father also communicated with his daughter through Whatsapp, an online messaging app.
"She contacted me back that same afternoon and said 'We're OK, we're here in San Carlos' and that was the last time I contacted her,” said Carlos Ciacedo, Stefaniak's father.
But when her flight back to Tampa touched down and she wasn't on it, Burton and Stefaniak’s father became concerned. Burton checked with a contact at the bed and breakfast who spoke to one of the guards outside the property.
“The guards told him that she checked out at 5:10 in the morning with all of her luggage in an Uber,” Burton said. “So this story doesn't make sense because the flight wasn't until 1:30 p.m. She's only 20 or 30 minutes from the airport.
The family has reached out to the State Department and U.S Sen. Marco Rubio office for help with this case. Burton’s husband, the brother of Stefaniak is in Costa Rica following up on leads.
"She's been missing technically since the 27th and now it's the 30th,” said Burton. “Everybody knows those first 48 hours are the most important. We're reaching 72 hours right now."
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