TAMPA, Fla. — The remains of the Florida woman murdered in Costa Rica are now back in Tampa.
- Family brings home remains of Tampa woman killed in Costa Rica
- Carla Stefaniak was murdered while on vacation in Costa Rica
- Her body was found buried on the property she was staying at
Her family arrived at Tampa International airport around 11:30 p.m. Friday night with her remains.
Carla Stefaniak's family have an emotional road ahead. Before leaving for Costa Rica, Stefaniak's best friend said they got to see Carla one last time.
This past week, Stefaniak's father had to do the unimaginable — identify his daughter's body.
What happened to her was gruesome, but her family says they don't want people to remember her that way.
"People that know her and people that didn't know her, they can see something special in her smile, so that's how we want her to be remembered," Stefaniak's brother Mario Caicedo said.
Stefaniak's brothers spent more than a week in Costa Rica searching for her when she went missing on November 28.
The Costa Rica trip was to celebrate her birthday with her sister-in-law who went home one day earlier. On Monday, Stefaniak's body was found buried on the property where she was staying.
Authorities said she had multiple stab wounds and blunt force trauma to the head. Costa Rican authorities said the man they've arrested was a guard at the hotel where she was staying. However, he has not been charged for her murder.
While that offers her family some relief, they wish more than anything that Stefaniak was still here.
"I don't wish this on any enemy, my worst enemies even. I would not wish what we went through. Losing one of my best friends Carla was unbearable," Gregory Zwolinski, Stefaniak's friend, said.
The family will now have to plan a memorial service and funeral for Stefaniak.
They also plan to create a non-profit named after her. The goal is to educate people on traveling, to try and prevent others from feeling their pain of losing someone they loved so much.