ORLANDO, Fla. – The family of Miya Marcano, the Orange County woman who disappeared from her UCF-area apartment in September 2021 and was later found dead, is suing the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the two deputies initially handling her missing person case.
The 19-year-old, a South Florida native, was a graduate of Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines.
The lawsuit, obtained by Local 10 Orlando news partner WKMG, said the sheriff’s office failed “miserably” to properly train and supervise its deputies in how to handle a case like Marcano’s. It also accused the sheriff’s office and its two employees — Deputy Samir Paulino and Cpl. Kenneth Dale, Paulino’s supervisor — of violating Marcano’s civil rights.
Marcano’s disappearance was reported on Sept. 24, 2021, when Paulino went to the Arden Villas apartment complex to perform a well-being check. Marcano’s mother had requested the check because Marcano was supposed to get on a flight that night and wasn’t responding to her phone.
A report shows Marcano’s door to her bedroom had been blocked with a piece of furniture, her bed wasn’t made, there was blood on her pillow and broken and bent jewelry on the floor.
But Dale said Paulino did not tell him most of that information during an agency investigation into the case. Because of this, Marcano was considered a “voluntary missing person” instead of a “missing endangered person.” The case was not escalated to the Criminal Investigations Division.
The lawsuit also claims Paulino did not take the family or the apartment complex security guard seriously when they asked about fingerprint evidence or provided details about concerns that Armando Caballero, a maintenance worker at the complex, could be involved in her disappearance.
At one point, the lawsuit claims Paulino told the apartment complex security guard that the case was “not a priority” unless she was elderly or disabled.
Caballero was found dead from suicide on Sept. 27, 2021. Marcano’s body was discovered on Oct. 2, 2021. It’s now believed Caballero killed Marcano.
Paulino received a 150-hour unpaid suspension as discipline for the investigation failures, and Dale received a 10-hour unpaid suspension. However, the family found that discipline insufficient.
“This failure to discipline its employees in a relevant respect reflects a deliberate indifference to the rights of its inhabitants and is actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Despite Paulino’s willful neglect, OCSO continues to employ him with a simple slap to the wrist,” the lawsuit states.
The family also claimed the sheriff’s office has not made any policy changes in the wake of the case, even though Sheriff John Mina said last year that they were in the process of doing so.
“We believe that the Orange County sheriff’s deputies that came out to the scene — had they been properly trained, had they had any sense of urgency, this could have happened a whole lot differently,” said Daryl Washington, the attorney for Marcano’s family.
Washington told News 6 that he and the family want to hold the sheriff and mayor accountable.
“You’re not necessarily filing a lawsuit against the mayor, but we are holding the mayor and other policymakers of Orange County accountable for the lack of training,” he said.
The family has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the apartment complex’s parent company for its own security failings.
In the wake of the Marcano case, Florida lawmakers passed a bill last year aimed at increasing physical safety for renters.