‘So Many Signs’: Murdered College Student Miya Marcano’s Family Thinks Police Failed Them

·5 min read
Orange County Sheriff
Orange County Sheriff

When Florida authorities released a report on their response to Miya Marcano’s disappearance, the slain 19-year-old student’s family thought their questions would finally be answered.

Instead, the family is more confused than ever after the Orange County Sheriff’s Office released a heavily redacted, four-page incident report last week. The family’s attorney, Daryl Washington, said the information in the report isn’t detailed enough—and they’re still wondering why her case wasn’t initially treated with more urgency when there was immediate evidence of foul play.

“There were some misrepresentations that were contained in this incident report; it was heavily redacted,” Washington said.

Marcano was reported missing on Sept. 24. The 19-year-old student at Valencia College was supposed to fly home to Fort Lauderdale, but her mother couldn’t get a hold of her, and her father reported that she’d missed her flight.

Person of Interest ‘Rebuffed’ by Missing Florida College Student Kills Himself

Police have since said that her suspected killer, Armando Caballero—a maintenance worker at Marcano’s apartment complex who ultimately died by suicide—entered her unit with a master key fob on the day that she went missing.

According to Orange County Sheriff John Mina, Caballero was not a suspect at the start of the investigation, but in the incident report, a deputy noted that Marcano’s roommates had told him on Sept. 25 that Caballero had been stalking her.

“While on scene Armando, the maintenance worker who was allegedly the male who wanted to date Miya, arrived on scene after finding out from a mutual friend that Miya is missing,” the report reads. “I spoke with Armando Manuel Caballero who did admit that he was trying to date Miya but stopped talking with her after she denied the request. The pair did stay friends but nothing more. He stated the last time that he saw her was on 9/24/21 at approximately 1500 hours while he was working.”

Washington said that two students warned the sheriff’s deputy about Caballero and gave useful information before he disappeared.

“They told him that this guy had been harassing Miya and sending her unwanted text messages and that she had rejected his advances. So, this was told to the sheriff’s deputy prior to him having an encounter with the suspect,” Washington explained. “When he met up with the suspect... he basically confirms what they were saying that he tried to date Miya and she rejected it.”

After Marcano’s family members told cops that Caballero had been seen with the college student’s blanket on Sept. 25, police considered the maintenance worker to be a person of interest.

Washington questions why authorities didn’t immediately take him in for further questioning. Two days later, on Sept. 27, Caballero was found dead from an apparent suicide. Marcano’s body was not discovered until Oct. 2—eight days after her family reported that she went missing.

In the police report, the deputy wrote that he went to the back of the complex to see if he could look into Marcano’s room through the window because her door was locked.

“When I arrived to her bedroom window, I was able to slightly see inside and did not notice anything out of the ordinary,” he reported. “The window was not damaged, the room appeared to be clean and nothing suspicious stood out to me.”

But the family’s attorney claims that Marcano’s room was in complete disarray, with a dresser pushed in front of her door to keep anyone from entering.

“There were just so many signs that were given to the deputy that he just totally ignored,” alleged Washington.

The family has been disappointed in the difference between how Marcano’s case was treated versus that of Gabby Petito in Wyoming. Their attorney suggested that Marcano, who was Black, was not a priority because of her race.

“The efforts and resources that were put into [Gabby Petito’s] case...were not placed into the disappearance of Miya,” he said. “They lost a critical opportunity by allowing this guy to go free, especially after the family had shown the sheriff’s deputy video footage of this guy carrying their daughter’s blanket. That alone should’ve been enough information.”

After holding Marcano’s funeral services on Oct. 14, the family continues to fight for the truth. Not only do they want an unredacted version of the incident report, but they’re also demanding photographs of the crime scene and bodycam and dashcam footage from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re hoping that this sheriff’s office provides us with this information so that we don’t have to go through other means in order to be able to get this information,” Washington said. “The family continues to learn and find out things about this case through the media. That’s not the way it should be handled.”

Until then, the Marcano family has created the Miya Marcano Foundation in order to help other families with missing children.

“They do not want Miya’s death [to] be in vain,” Washington explained. “They want changes in the way apartment complexes provide access to tenants’ apartments, making sure there are stronger laws, making sure there are mandatory background checks, make sure there are mandatory disclosures that are given to tenants so that they can know whether people are going to have access to their apartments.”

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