HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Family and friends of a South Florida woman who was killed late last year in Costa Rica gathered in Hallandale Beach to remember her life.
Carla Stefaniak, 36, traveled to Costa Rica with her sister-in-law in late November to celebrate her birthday, and she decided to stay an extra day on her own.
Family members grew concerned when she didn't answer her phone after Nov. 27, 2018, or return to South Florida. Days later on Dec. 3, her body was found in a mountainous area behind the Airbnb where she was staying. Costa Rican authorities have charged a security guard who worked at the vacation rental property with her murder.
Dozens of people attended the service at South Park Beach Park. Tables were filled with flowers, personal photos and mementos including a pair of cat's-eye sunglasses.
"We are honoring Carla's life. We remember her very good moments. We're sharing many thoughts about Carla and just talking about how she was. We're just trying to do some closure," her brother Mario Caicedo said.
Friends and family placed flowers into the ocean during the memorial service.
"Carla was an amazing woman, sister, daughter, friend who would always be happy. She was always smiling. She was always trying to make people feel good. She was just really special," Caicedo said.