19-year-old Florida woman still missing, person of interest found dead
19-year-old Florida woman still missing, person of interest found dead
19-year-old Miya Marcano. Images credit Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Facebook.

Grace Toohey, Orlando Sentinel

A maintenance employee at the Orlando apartment complex where 19-year-old Miya Marcano was last seen Friday — who had been deemed a “person of interest” in her disappearance — was found dead Monday, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said.

Armando Manuel Caballero, who was found dead at a Seminole County apartment complex Monday afternoon, had used a master key to enter Marcano’s apartment about 4:30 p.m. Friday, minutes before she was last seen, Mina said. Detectives also determined Caballero, 27, had expressed a romantic interest in Marcano but was “repeatedly rebuffed” by the young woman.

“Miya is still missing,” Mina said at a rescheduled press conference Tuesday. “…We are still doing everything possible we can to find her.”

He called her disappearance suspicious and said foul play is suspected.

Before Caballero was found dead, Mina said deputies had issued an arrest warrant for the 27-year-old for burglary, because he had inappropriately accessed her apartment. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating his death. Mina said it appeared Caballero killed himself.

Mina asked the public to call in any information about Marcano or Caballero.

After the Sheriff’s Office delayed the press conference just minutes before its original 1 p.m. start time Monday, Marcano’s relatives told reporters they were frustrated and angry with how the case is being handled.

“Keep Miya in your prayers,” said Semone Westmaas, Marcano’s aunt. “Don’t give up on Miya. I believe Miya is alive.”

Marcano was last seen Friday about 5 p.m. at the Arden Villas apartments, just off University Boulevard and about a mile from UCF’s campus, according to OCSO officials. She was entered into state and federal databases as missing. The case gained interest and concern over the weekend, with hundreds sharing bulletins with her face and limited descriptions.

Westmaas said Marcano’s family, friends and even strangers have volunteered to search for her.

Norman Thompson, Marcano’s grandfather, said through tears Monday that he believed his granddaughter was suffering and wanted her back home. He and other family members demanded urgency from OCSO.

The apartment complex’s Facebook page said Monday morning that Marcano was a resident and office staff employee. The page also said Marcano was last seen wearing a red shirt with a logo for Preiss Co., which is a student housing company, as well as jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt.

UCF spokesperson Courtney Gilmartin said Marcano has never been enrolled as a student at the university. According to Marcano’s Facebook page, she graduated from Flanagan High School in Broward County in 2020.

Her father, a D.J. in south Florida, has been posting photos of Marcano on his Instagram page since Friday, asking for help to find her. In his latest post, he called Marcano by the nickname “Mimi,” saying his heart was aching.

“I haven’t slept or eaten in days,” Marlon Marcano wrote in the Instagram post. “Your whole family is here looking for you. We will not stop until you’re back home.”

A South Florida-based nonprofit focused on protecting women and children, Kingsman, recently joined the effort to find Marcano, releasing a flyer with a $5,000 reward for a tip that leads to her safe return.

Michael Evans, the executive director of the organization, said he’s hoping to work with OCSO detectives on the case, but is waiting to hear back. He said his organization, which often works with law enforcement, will review and vet any tips about the case they may get. He said his organization had been in touch with Marcano’s father, but he was very distraught.

OCSO said the case remains under investigation and asked anyone with any information to call the OCSO non-emergency line at 407-836-4357 or Crimeline at 800-423-8477. If anyone spots Miya, officials said they should call 911.

gtoohey@orlandosentinel.com; mcordeiro@orlandosentinel.com

©2021 Orlando Sentinel. Visit orlandosentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.