NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Investigators combed through a vast wooded area in New Smyrna Beach on Friday as the search for missing Florida college student Miya Marcano reached a week.
The 19-year-old from Pembroke Pines who attends school in Orlando hasn’t been seen since last Friday, a day she was supposed to fly back to Broward County.
Authorities set up a command post early Friday morning in New Smyrna Beach — a coastal city in Volusia County, about an hour northeast of Orlando — where sources told Local 10 News they got a ping location from the prime suspect’s cell phone.
That prime suspect, Armando Caballero, was found dead Monday of an apparent suicide.
Orange County Sheriff John Mina said Thursday that investigators believe Caballero was responsible for Marcano’s disappearance. Caballero was a maintenance worker at the Arden Villa apartments where Marcano lived and worked in the leasing office. Deputies obtained a warrant for his arrest before his death.
Detectives said Caballero made romantic advances toward Marcano that were repeatedly rebuffed, and that he used a master key to get into her apartment before she vanished.
The search efforts Friday were taking place on foot and on ATVs. The area is very heavy in brush and there is a body of swamp water.
Mina said Thursday that 60 detectives are working exclusively on this case, focusing on Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties. About 200 men and women are part of the search, and the FBI has also gotten involved.
“It appears as if they are looking for someone that may not be alive. That is the reality, however, the family has not been giving up hope,” said family friend Carol Hylton. “When you’re the family member with the person that’s missing, everything is too long — 24 hours is too long … and for sure 7 days is too long.”
Members of Marcano’s family say they are exhausted and desperate for answers.
“It’s very hard, cause I’m dying inside,” said Violet Delville, Miya’s grandmother. “We need closure regardless of what it is. I don’t know how life would be if we never know where she’s at.”
Candlelight vigils were held Thursday night in Orlando and at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Marcano’s alma mater.
More vigils were planned for Friday night in Central Florida, and in Lauderhill, where family and friends gathered with candles and played uplifting music.