Katherine Tatiana Smith, a native of Limon and the prime suspect in the muder of Stefano Calandrelli, Italian businessman and ex-husband of journalist Adriana Durán, broke her silence and accepted an interview with La Teja after being behind bars, in preventive detention, for a little a year now.

Katherine Tatiana Smith refused to be photographed during her interview with La Teja at the women’s prison. Photo from her Instagram profile

In the women’s prison, the Vilma Curling (known as the El Buen Pastor) prison, the tall and skinngy woman, now 25 years of age and a single mom, told La Teja she remembered Calandrelli as a gentleman who on repeated occasions asked her to his girlfriend. But she rejected him.

In the same prison with Smith is her friend, identified by her last names Vega Badilla, who is accused of taking part in Calandrelli’s murder.

The Italian went missing on May 14, 2018. His body was found a week later, on the 20th, near the Ruta 32 in the area of the Braulio Carrillo national park. He was stabbed in the back and in the head and had been tortured.

Smith says she is innocent, argues that those responsible for the murder of Calandrelli were strangers to whom she opened the doors of their home, in San Joaquín de Flores, to give them help.

The three men, surnamed Mckenzie Banton, Rivas Suazo and Cerdas Sánchez, were arrested shortly after arres of Smith. A fourth man, surnamed Hernández Badilla, according to the Ministerio Publico, was arrested in January.

The four, are free while awaiting trial, having to sign in at the courthouse once a month, are prevented from leaving the country and must maintain a fixed address.

On her Facebook page, Smith says she is a nursing student and works with the state health, the Caja Costarricense de Segurdo Social (CCSS). But during her interview she admitted to that not being true, she doesn’t work for the caja, saying “you put up (on Facebook) anything”.

Smith says she met Calandrellin only by way of the Badoo app in April 2010, a year before he was murdered.

Stefano Calandrelli. According to Smith, she knew Stefano for almost a year, he had asked her out, but she rejected him.

“We were texting. After a month of being on the phone he invites me out and I said yes. We went out to eat, one day I even went to his house, it was a beautiful friendship, really. A couple of times he asked me to be his girlfriend, but he did not know the his past and also I was in a relationship.

“He was an excellent person, very calm, very talkative, cheerful, he loved sports, he was a very funny person,” said Smith.

What happened that afternoon of Monday, May 14, 2018?

“(She thinks, stares at the ceiling, she sighs) I have to think back… On Sunday, May 13th, at 4:20 pm, he wrote me, asking me what I was going to do the next day. I told him I was going to be home, then he asked if we could meet, ask if he can come to my house. I said ‘yes, of course, but I do not live alone’ and he replied that it did not matter,” said Smith.

Was it the first time he came over? “Yes. He would come to my work or the gym, pick me up and we would go out, but this was the first time he came over. I had already gone to his house, in Santa Ana, because he would send me an Uber to pick me up.

On that fatefull day, Smith says Calandrelli arrived in an Uber between 7:30 and 8:30 (at night), the exact time she does not recall.

“I said ‘diay!, and your car?’ and he told me he was in the workshop. I asked him if we were going to go in the same car and he said ‘no, I’m going to stay here’. Since he had never disrespected me, then I did not think of anything wrong with it,” relates Smith.

What happened next?

“We had something to eat together with my housemate (the other defendant, Vega Badilla). But he got a call and told me he had to go. He left, but left his keys, his (bank) cards and his glasses on the table in the living room, I did not realize he had left his things behind and I went to the carwash in Belene where I worked as an administrator to fo the closing,” she said.

So, how did the men get in her house?

Smith recalle that one of the men, Mckenzie who was her roomate’s boyfriend, had been staying in the house for week, arriving on the 8th, he lived in Limon but had a job interview in San Jose. Smith said that he came with his cousin (Rivas) came along, also looking for work.

Smith explained that, “On May 12 I told them that they had to go, they told me they were leaving on the 20th of May.

“As I said, he (Stefano) got a call and said ‘I have to go’. That was like between 9:30 and 10:30 at night. I asked him if everything was fine and he said yes, he had an emergency.

“He left the keys…I also went out with my friend to the carwash where I worked. I did not realize that the men (suspects) had already arrived at the house and that he (Stefano) had returned (to pick up the things he had forgotten).

“Stefano told one of them to call La Negra (Smith) and they told him there was noone and he told them ‘how? If I just left and I was here with them’.

“But they said ‘no, there’s nothing here, come and look for them’. Of course, Stefano went in and from there I do not know what happened,” said Smith.

The next logical question for Smith by Le Teja journalist Alejandro Portuguez Morales was,
How do you know those details if he says you were not there?

“Reading the (police) file. With a year in here I start to put everything together,” answered Smith.

According to Smith, when she got home that night, in the othe room, the mattress on the bed was gone, also the curtains. “My friend was near the laundry room and her boyfriend came out of there, he threw himself on top of her, they (sic) pointed a gun at us and started to make a mess. I was shocked, I did not understand anything.”

Where was Stefano? “I do not know where he was. I do not know what they did (with him). I cannot explain what happened. What I can explain is that there were more people involved, but I do not know them.

“They tied up my friend, they put a bag over my head, and put me in the trunk of a car.

“Now I know that they went to throw Stefano in the Braulio Carrillo because I saw the file, but it was not because I could see. (In the interview she suggests that maybe in that car they were carrying Stefano’s body). We returned to the house at 1:15 in the morning,” said Smith.

According to the woman, back at the house, the men cleaned up and took everything that could indicate a crime had been committed.

They grabbed the carpets of the house and put them in plastic bags. They left me and my friend in the laundry room,” said Smith, who theorizes it was not to leave their tracks, hair, blood, etc.

Q: Why do you think he was attacked (killed)?

A: “I cannot tell you if it was out of jealousy, because in my five senses I do not have the mentality to do such a thing, I do not consider myself a person like that. If he only hadn’t come back (for his things) that night.”

Q: Did Stefano deserve to die like that?

A: “Never! For the kind of person he was, no. The little I knew about him, the times I shared, was not for that. There is no person who deserves that.”

Q: Are you aware that the rest of your life can be behind bars?

A: “Yes, but if I had to pay it would be to open my house to strangers.”

Stefano’s body was found on May 20, 2018, in Rio Sucio, in th area known El Zurquí, a few feet from the ruta 32, near a bridge, six days after he disappeared.

The Prosecutor’s Office (Fiscalia) affirmed that it is in the final stage of the investigation and accuses the six suspects of the crimes of: deprivation of liberty, torture, aggravated robbery, and homicide.

Source: La Teja (in Spanish)