‘We will live and love and do it for Miya.’ The life and death of teen killed in Orlando

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Hundreds of people, many in blue, gathered Thursday for the funeral service of 19-year-old Miya Marcano. The college student from Pembroke Pines who loved blue was killed Sept. 24 in Orlando.

The service at the Cooper City Church of God included a video slideshow of Marcano, who seemed to always be smiling. Her casket was adorned with a crown — fitting for a princess.

She was remembered as a “vibrant butterfly” who could “light up any room.”

The teen who embraced her Caribbean culture loved Soca and Calypso music. Among the guests Thursday: Soca singers Skinny Fabulous and Lyrikal.

“We will live and love and do it for Miya,’ Skinny Fabulous sang. “And until we meet again, we will celebrate your name.”

Who is Miya?

Born April 26, 2002, in Pembroke Pines to parents Yma Scarbriel and Marlon Marcano, Miya grew up in both South Florida and the British Virgin Islands.

Marlon Marcano, known professionally as DJ Eternal Vibes, is a DJ in South Florida.

She graduated from Flanagan Senior High in 2020 and headed to the University of Central Florida, according to her cousin Cailie Sue.

After a few semesters, she transferred to Valencia College, where she was studying sports medicine.

“From early on Miya became a Jane of all trades,” Sue said. “After taking an interest in modeling, pageantry, cheerleading, dancing, horseback riding and so much more. Miya excelled in everything she set her mind to do.”

A crown adorns Miya Marcano’s casket during her funeral service on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, at Cooper City Church of God in Cooper City. Marcano, a 19-year-old college sophomore from Pembroke Pines, was found murdered in a wooded area near her apartment complex in Orlando on Oct. 2.
A crown adorns Miya Marcano’s casket during her funeral service on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, at Cooper City Church of God in Cooper City. Marcano, a 19-year-old college sophomore from Pembroke Pines, was found murdered in a wooded area near her apartment complex in Orlando on Oct. 2.

No trace of Miya

Marcano, who worked for the apartment complex where she lived, was supposed to fly home to South Florida on Friday, Sept. 24 after work, but never got on the plane.

That weekend, Marcano’s image was shared widely through social media, and people began searching the areas surrounding the Arden Villas apartments. The complex is about a mile and a half from UCF.

On Sept. 27, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said a person of interest in the disappearance, 27-year-old Armando Manuel Caballero, was found dead by an apparent suicide in Seminole County. He said Caballero had shown a romantic interest in Marcano and that she had rebuffed him numerous times.

“We need our entire community’s help in locating 19-year-old Miya Marcano,” Mina said at the time. “Miya is still missing, her disappearance is suspicious and our detectives and the family suspect foul play.”

A week later, her body was found in an area near the Tymber Skan on the Lake condominiums, where Caballero lived.

The sheriff’s office said that detectives believed “pretty conclusively” that Caballero killed Marcano before killing himself on Sept. 27.

Changes to apartment safety

The sheriff’s office said Caballero used a master key fob to get into Marcano’s apartment.

In the days after the incident, the company released a statement saying it was “doing everything in our power to keep every single staff member, resident and visitor to Arden Villas as safe and secure as possible.”

“All potential employees are vetted through a national background check services provider, the company said. “Concerning Mr. Caballero specifically, no records of either burglary or sexual assault were found during his background check, and reports to the contrary are not based on facts or any reports we have seen.”

The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said that in March, a tenant accused Caballero of throwing a gym weight against her window, NBC6 reported. He wasn’t charged because the woman never saw Caballero, the station said.

Students who live in the complex, which has around 200 units, said the management hadn’t been communicating during the ordeal and that they want safety taken more seriously.

“There are concerns that are ongoing,” said Julia Veiga, who recently moved into the complex and helped organize a protest held earlier this month. “Security measures could have potentially saved Miya’s life.”

Veiga said among the requests: a staffed security gate, improved lighting and comprehensive background checks for workers.

How she will be remembered

On Wednesday, a celebration of life was held at the Cooper City church. Friends told stories about the teen as they viewed a snapshot of her life through photos.

On Thursday, her cousin had a request of Miya: “Continue to shine your light on us.”

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Instead of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Miya Marcano Foundation, the stated mission of which is “to support, educate and provide resources to families of missing persons while advocating for the protection of students and our most vulnerable population.”

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