An arrest has been made in Costa Rica in the stabbing death of a Minnesota native and University of St. Thomas graduate who arranged medical missions in the region, according to news reports from the Central American nation that pointed to a romantic connection between the victim and the suspect.
Sondra Lynn Elizondo, 45, was visiting the Costa Rican capital of San Jose for business when police found her body Dec. 9 in a hotel room, university officials said last week.
A 25-year-old man was arrested at his home near San Jose on Friday by agents of the national Judicial Investigative Police, according to the English-language Inside Costa Rica News.
The man, whose name has yet to be released, had items belonging to Elizondo, the report said.
The Daily Mail of London identified the suspect as Alejandro Obando Vega, and the newspaper cited a relative of Elizondo’s as saying that she was about to break off the relationship.
Two other news reports out of San Jose said Elizondo checked in the night before her death at Hotel 69. Hotel housekeeping staff found Elizondo’s body the next day, after hearing “a heated discussion coming from that room” the night before that “they dismissed … as a lover’s quarrel,” according to the Costa Rica Star.
Another news outlet, Diario Extra, reported that the man used Elizondo’s credit card for purchases after she suffered multiple stab wounds to her head, chest and neck.
Elizondo, most recently of Merritt Island, Fla., was the director and co-founder of Vida Volunteer, a nonprofit that sets up mobile medical, dental and veterinary clinics in impoverished communities in Latin America. She received the University of St. Thomas’ Humanitarian Award in 2014.
A Stewartville, Minn., native, Elizondo earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from St. Thomas in 1992. After graduation, she moved to Costa Rica while serving in the Peace Corps from 1994 to 1996, according to the university.
Elizondo lived in Costa Rica for 10 years before moving to Florida in 2014 to oversee Vida. She is survived by two children, a brother and her parents.