The family of Florida teen Miya Marcano, who went missing and was later found dead, have accused authorities of botching the case, saying she had been obsessively pursued by a maintenance worker who killed himself before he was identified as the prime suspect in her disappearance.
Marcano’s family released a three-minute video clip Wednesday that shows a late-night encounter they had with Armando Caballero, who can be seen talking with deputies and arguing with Marcano's relatives who are accusing him of being obsessed with the 19-year-old Valencia College student. His dead body was discovered days later by apparent suicide, deputies said.
“There should have been a supervisor who should have been called,” the family’s lawyer Daryl Washington said of the encounter. “We have said from the beginning, anybody responsible—who played a part in Miya’s death—will be held accountable.”
Orange County Sheriff John Mina had said that Caballero had made repeated “advances” toward Marcano that were “rebuffed,” and investigators learned he had used a maintenance-issued master key to enter her apartment shortly before she was last seen. Upon examination of phone records, investigators also suspect that Caballero was likely at the complex on the night of Marcano’s disappearance.
The revelation that Caballero had a master key prompted protests at the Arden Villas apartments over security concerns. A Change.org petition created by residents and outlining a list of demands for the complex had generated more than 35,000 signatures by Thursday.
Marcano’s family said the video was shot by a relative around 3:45 a.m. on Sept 25, hours after she was last seen alive.
In a statement released by their lawyer, Marcano’s relatives told WTSP they had asked the sheriff’s office earlier that night to check on Marcano at the Arden Villas, a complex where she lived and worked, when she failed to board a flight home to visit her family. According to the family, deputies searched Marcano’s apartment with her roommate and found evidence of tampering on her window and a dresser that blocked the door to her bedroom.
Alarmed by the deputies’ discovery, Marcano’s family said they trekked up to Orlando to check on her and captured the footage when they arrived at her apartment. They can be heard in the video accusing Caballero of sending “obsessive” text messages to Marcano whose body was finally uncovered in a wooded area in Central Florida on Oct. 2.
Members of the teen’s family can be heard asking why he was at the complex where Marcano lived and suggesting that his shift had ended. They accused him of being obsessed with Marcano.
“You have sent obsessive texts to Miya,” one family member can be heard saying. “We have all seen the texts. You talk about giving her your life savings.”
“I never said that,” Caballero responded.
Caballero then insisted that his interest in Marcano had not been one-sided.
“It’s not only from my side, so don’t try to make this like I’m a stalker,” he said.
In the video, Caballero claims he showed up at the apartment complex because he was “concerned.”
“When you see that video, it is inexcusable,” Washington said, questioning why deputies had not detained Caballero that night.
After the family released the video, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office insisted that deputies did not have adequate reason to arrest Caballero during the encounter with her family.
“Our deputies are not permitted to arrest or detain someone based on a hunch or based on what someone else is saying,” Mina said in a news conference in response to the video. “Instead, they must establish facts to justify such a detention.”
The sheriff also said that detaining Caballero at the time of the encounter with Marcano’s family would not have prevented her death because investigators now believe Caballero had already dumped her body which had been bound with duct tape hours before.