A homicide investigation has been launched after a 47-year-old woman, Marelbi Ruiz Lara was discovered dead in a Miami Beach hotel that caters to flight crews – and the door to her room was blocked by a mattress.
The victim, identified by relatives as Marelbi Ruiz Lara, was found Tuesday evening at the posh oceanfront Sherry Frontenac Hotel on Collins Avenue, WPLG reported.
“MBPD received a call from a woman requesting a welfare check for her coworker, who was last seen Saturday, December 3,” Ernesto Rodriguez, a police spokesman, told the outlet in an email on Wednesday.
He told the Miami Herald that the death is being investigated as a homicide and that “detectives are actively following several leads.”
Lara’s woman’s son, Nelson Tabares, told NBC Miami from Colombia that his mother worked in the area and had been staying in the hotel with her partner.
He said he became worried after not hearing from her for several days and called the hotel to ask staff to check on her in the 10th-floor room.
When the security guards attempted to open the door, they discovered that it was blocked by a mattress.
“They used brute force to get in,” Tabares told the station. “After using force, the hotel workers… did not find the belongings of the two people who lived there.” They were terrified. They were nervous.”
Lara was staying at the hotel with her boyfriend, who was working on a remodeling project in the building, according to WPLG.
Authorities have not released any information about a suspect, but Tabares believes the man murdered her and then committed suicide in Sarasota, according to NBC.
Police have not confirmed a link between the homicide and a reported suicide on the side of I-75 on Tuesday in Sarasota, according to the report.
The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office removed the woman’s body about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and the cause of death remains under investigation.
A front desk clerk told WPLG that the hotel is not open to the general public, but is used exclusively by airline pilots and flight attendants.
Lara was not an airline employee, according to the station.
Authorities stated that there was no danger to the general public, but residents and tourists in the area expressed concern about the incident.
“I think it’s a terrible thing to have this kind of occurrence right here on the beach,” Alicia Darias told NBC Miami.
Desiree Arnold of Jacksonville said she saw a heavy police presence Tuesday night.