Miya Marcano case: Search continues for missing teen after person of interest found dead, deputies say
ORLANDO, Fla. - Authorities in Florida continue to search for a missing college student who was supposed to fly to Fort Lauderdale from Orlando but never boarded the plane.
The family of Miya Marcano, 19, is gathering on Tuesday to search for her. On Monday night, friends and well-wishers lit candles in front of her apartment building who are still holding out hope.
Deputies said Marcano was last seen around 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24, at the Arden Villas apartments, located at 3303 Arden Villas Boulevard in Orlando.
In a news conference on Monday afternoon, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said Armando Manuel Caballero, 27, the person of interest in Marcano's disappearance was found dead at a Seminole County apartment complex. Sheriff Mina said it appears he killed himself.
"I want to reiterate, Miya is still missing. Her disappearance is suspicious and our detectives and family members obviously suspect foul play," Sheriff Mina said.
Caballero was a maintenance person at the Arden Villas Apartments where he had worked since June, according to investigators. Sheriff Mina said Marcano lives and works at the apartment complex.
In the news conference, the sheriff said it appears to have been a situation where Caballero might have developed a romantic interest in Marcano but she wasn't interested in that way.
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"He had demonstrated a romantic interest in Miya. This was repeatedly rebuffed by Miya," Sheriff Mina said. "We now know that a maintenance-issued master key fob which Caballero was known to be in possession of was used to enter Miya's apartment Friday afternoon at about 4:30."
Caballero was driving a silver Ford Fusion with Florida tag PZUJ17. The sheriff asked for any information from anyone who may have seen Caballero or his car.
"We've already recovered that vehicle but we want to know any circumstances where someone may have seen him in that vehicle," Mina added.
Deputies spent all weekend trying to track down Caballero. Seminole County deputies eventually found him dead at around 10:30 a.m. on Monday morning outside some apartments on Sabal Lake Drive in Longwood.
Two residents told FOX 35 News Caballero used to work maintenance at the Seminole County complex.
"He’s worked on our refrigerator, our oven, stuff like that - I know who it is for sure," said resident Joshua Hooper.
A lot of questions remain about what Caballero may have known and his past. Court records out of Polk County show he was arrested in 2013 for setting off a small explosion inside a dorm hallway at Warner University.
Marcano's family was also at the press conference pleading for anyone with information about where she might be to come forward.
Marcano's family has been spreading flyers out across town, desperate to find her.
They joined together over the weekend to light candles in her honor after some of them drove here from Fort Lauderdale to help search for her.
"All we ask of you is help us bring Miya home," her grandmother told FOX 35.
"I am out there. I am pounding the beat looking," said Miya’s grandfather, Norman Thompson.
"We are not leaving Orlando until we bring Miya home," said Miya’s aunt, Semone Westmaas.
"We miss you and fight. We are here. We are waiting for you," said Miya’s aunt, Pia Scarbriel Henry. "This family believes in God. We believe in hope and we have faith. As soon as you are ready, Mia, come give us a sign and we'll be right there. You know it. I love you, Miya."
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The Orange County Sheriff's Office said on Monday that Marcano is a student at Valencia College.
Sheriff Mina said approximately 30 detectives were working on the case. He mentioned a search of Marcano's apartment turned up a few items "considered to be suspicious," though he would not elaborate, adding that it was an ongoing investigation.
"No bit of information is too small or too insignificant. If someone knows of something, saw something, recognizes her face, we will take that information and you can remain anonymous, too," Sheriff Mina said.
Anyone with information can call the Sheriff's Office's non-emergency line at 407-836-4357 or 911.
Watch FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.