Relatives of a missing Florida woman whose remains were found this weekend say they feel shattered by the loss and are outraged that the suspected murderer took the “cowardly way out” by committing suicide, the Sun reports.
A lawyer for the family also says they intend to seek justice and “hold those responsible accountable to the full extent of the law.”
Police discovered the body of Miya Marcano, a 19-year-old Valencia College student, around 10:45 a.m. Saturday in Seminole County, Florida, near Orlando.
The remains were located 17 miles from an apartment building where she lived and worked.
A medical examiner has not formally confirmed the identity of the remains, but Orange County Sheriff John W. Mina told reporters at a press conference that he is “very certain” they are Marcano’s.
Mina said Marcano’s identification card was found near the body, Mina said at the press conference.
In an interview with the Sun, Marcano’s cousin Caili Sue said the family had been hoping for the best possible outcome.
“We are devastated. We are angry and we know our lives have now been changed forever,” Sue told the Sun. “Everyone has been very somber since the announcement.”
The family, from Fort Lauderdale, is staying in Orlando until the results of the autopsy are available. A funeral is planned in South Florida after the body is released.
“We are not leaving without Miya,” Sue told the newspaper. “We will get justice for her once things die down and we bring her home.”
Marcano had been last seen on September 24 at her apartment complex, where she worked in the leasing office. She had been planning to fly to Fort Lauderdale for a family visit that evening, but she never got on the plane.
A search of her apartment revealed indications of a heated struggle, including a barricaded bedroom door, items in disarray, and blood on her pillow.
Investigators say that Armando Manuel Caballero, a 27-year-old maintenance worker at the same building, is the prime suspect in the case.
Caballero had reportedly expressed a romantic interest in Marcano, which she had declined.
Police believe that Caballero used a master key to enter Marcano’s apartment around 4:30 p.m. last Friday without her knowledge or consent, which was a half-hour before she was to finish work and when she was last seen.
The following morning, security cameras recorded Caballero taking gloves, a blanket, and a backpack out of his vehicle before he entered the apartment building.
Caballero was later found dead from an apparent suicide Monday, hanging in a garage at a different apartment complex where he lived in Seminole County. Sue told the Sun that Caballero had been “obsessed and infatuated” with Marcano and would “constantly” text her, even though she sought to make it clear she wasn’t interested.
Sue also said that her aunt, Semone Westmaas, encountered Caballero on the morning of September 25 as the family was waiting for police officers to arrive.
“He was trying to leave. His lights were off,” Westmaas told the Sun. “He said, ‘Are you looking for Miya?’ I said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘I’m the maintenance guy. I heard you’re looking for me.’ I didn’t know who this guy was at the time.”
Family members felt the conversation was odd because they had not yet disclosed that Marcano was missing. Marcano’s father then asked Caballero if he had been in contact with his daughter; Caballero appeared “quite nervous,” according to the Sun.
In an interview with police, Caballero reportedly asserted that he had last seen Marcano around 3 p.m. Friday. Police later learned that Caballero had entered Marcano’s apartment and issued a warrant for his arrest on a burglary charge.
Caballero may have a history of violence against women. A woman who lives in the apartment complex where Caballero also resided believes he threw a dumbbell through her window after she declined to date him. Police were not able to sufficiently connect him to the incident, so he was not arrested, according to WKMG-TV.
Sue told the newspaper that the family believes Caballero took the “cowardly way out” by killing himself.“We are angry because he’s left us with some many questions, questions that may go forever unanswered because there may be things that only he was only present and only he’ll ever know.
“I just feel really angry and frustrated because I felt like we had him and then he was gone,” Sue told the Sun.
Meanwhile, Marcano’s family and friends held a vigil on Saturday night outside of her apartment building to remember and honor her.
“She was only 19 years old. She had the whole rest of her life ahead of her,” Sue said at the vigil, according to the Sun. “I can’t even put into words how we are feeling right now as a family. I feel defeated. I feel like I failed my cousin and I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.”
Marcano’s grandmother, Violet Deville, told the Orlando Sentinel: “It’s been tragic, it’s been horrible, it’s not something we were looking forward for. Even though some of us had it in the back of our minds, we still had hope that we would find her alive.”
Daryl K. Washington, an attorney for the family, released a statement on Saturday night to WOFL-TV that the family intends to seek justice for Marcano.
“We want to stress that we believe that her disappearance and consequential death was 100% preventable and we intend to hold those responsible accountable to the full extent of the law,” the statement reads, according to the television station.
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[Featured Photo: Miya Marcano/Facebook]