Murder investigation ensues after woman turns up dead at Miami Beach hotel room

Family members identify woman, want to know where boyfriend is

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Detectives are investigating a woman’s murder after finding her dead at an oceanfront hotel on Tuesday night in Miami Beach. The hotel is popular among pilots and flight attendants.

Police officers found the dead woman shortly before 7 p.m. at the Sherry Frontenac Hotel, at 6565 Collins Ave., according to Officer Ernesto Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department.

“MBPD received a call from a woman requesting a welfare check for her coworker, who was last seen Saturday, December 3,” Rodriguez wrote in an email on Wednesday.

Family members have identified the woman as 47-year-old Marelbi Ruiz Lara. Her son spoke with Local 10 News’ Christian De La Rosa over the phone from Colombia.

Police officers found a woman dead on Tuesday night at the Sherry Frontenac Hotel in Miami Beach, police said on Wednesday morning. (Google Street View)

Nelson Tabares said loved ones asked for a welfare check at the hotel after not hearing from Lara for days.

He said hotel staff told him the door to her room was obstructed by a mattress.

A team with the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office removed the woman’s body from the hotel at about 10:30 a.m., on Wednesday to begin the process of determining the precise cause of death.

Desiree Arnold said she saw when police officers responded to the hotel at about 10 p.m., on Tuesday night and quickly filled Collins Avenue and blocked off the hotel.

“We are here on vacation,” Arnold, of Jacksonville, said. “We are like four hotels away, so now I am like, ‘Are we safe?’”

Local 10 News’ Christina Vazquez spoke with a front desk clerk who said that the hotel is not open to the general public but exclusively specializes in accommodating airline flight crews, pilots and flight attendants.

“So now I am wondering, OK, was it a flight attendant?” Arnold asked.

Previous report:

“I think it is not safe,” said another hotel guest.

Local 10 News has since leaned Lara did not work for an airline but was staying at the hotel with her boyfriend who was working a remodeling and construction project on the hotel premises.

Tabares suspects his mother’s boyfriend may know what happened, but stresses that he is nowhere to be found.

Miami Beach police has not confirmed the body’s identity or any of the details shared by her family.

Police say there is no threat to the public.

Detectives were asking anyone with information about the case to call Miami Beach Police at 305-673-7900 or Miami-Dade County Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.

Local 10 News Assignment Desk Editor Frine Gomez contributed to this report.

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About the Authors:

Joseph Ojo joined Local 10 in April 2021. Born and raised in New York City, he previously worked in Buffalo, North Dakota, Fort Myers and Baltimore.

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."