Miya Marcano’s father hopes new law will prevent tragedies

Miya Marcano's father and mother said they were grateful lawmakers supported her legacy was to help prevent other families from suffering like they have.

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – Marlon Marcano said Tuesday he hopes a new Florida law named after his slain 19-year-old daughter, Miya, will prevent other fathers from suffering as he has.

The Florida House and Senate passed the bill with bipartisan support and legislators expect Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign it into law.

“I am overwhelmed. It is not going to change anything, but it will help other families in the future, so hopefully, they’ll never have to go through what we went through,” Marlone Marcano said.

The Florida law will increase protections for tenants with requirements such as background checks and controls on access to rental apartments.

“Well, it wouldn’t give me my baby back, but what it does give is a level of hope that other families will feel safer in their home,” Marlon Marcano said.

Miya Marcano Law (Miya Marcano Law)

The grieving father thought his daughter, a graduate of Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, was safe while attending Valencia College in Orlando. She was living and working at the Arden Villas, a gated apartment complex near the University of Central Florida.

It was while working at the Arden Villas’ leasing office that Miya Marcano met Armando Caballero, a maintenance worker who detectives believe misused his access to her rental apartment and killed her, police said. Miya’s loved ones said they believe this could have been prevented had a law like this been in place.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign Miya’s Law to help protect tenants. Semone Westmaas, Miya’s aunt, said she is grateful for the lawmakers and supporters who supported the idea that her niece’s legacy was to help save lives.

“It’s something we could not have done without everyone’s support,” Westmaas said.

Miya’s disappearance

After graduating from high school, Miya Marcano moved to Orlando to go to college and was murdered last year.

Yma Scarbriel reported her daughter missing after Miya Marcano missed her Sept. 24 flight from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale. Westmaas said she quickly suspected Caballero, who had made countless unwanted romantic advances.

Detectives later found Caballero, 27, used a key fob to open Miya’s apartment door at 2:14 p.m. and at 4:34 p.m., on the day she missed her flight. He used the fob before Marcano used hers to get into her apartment at 5:06 p.m.

Detectives believe Caballero drove out of the Arden Villas at 5:52 p.m., returned at 7:11 p.m., and left at 7:38 p.m. About 40 minutes later, deputies said Caballero was in the area of the dilapidated Tymber Skan on the Lake Condominiums for about 20 minutes.

Unable to reach Marcano, Scarbriel called the police to report her missing about 9:23 p.m. A deputy responded about 10:02 p.m. to the Arden Villas to conduct a welfare check. Shortly before 5 a.m., on Sept. 25, a deputy met with Marcano’s relatives at the Arden Villas.

Westmaas reported her suspicions about Caballero.


Detectives believe Armando Manuel Caballero, 27, misused his position as a maintenance worker to access Miya Marcano's rental apartment and kill her. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Police officers and Marcano’s relatives later visited Caballero’s apartment in Seminole County, police said. Detectives believe Caballero left his apartment about 3 p.m. on Sept. 25, and he sent his last text message about 9:35 p.m.

Deputies found Caballero dead by suicide about 10:34 a.m., on Sept. 27. A search team found Marcano’s lifeless body about 10:45 a.m., on Oct. 2 in a marshy wooded area in the Tymber Skan property.

Detectives said the killer used black tape to bind her hands and feet and to cover her mouth, and her purse and identification were nearby. The Medical Examiner’s Office couldn’t determine an exact cause of death.

“At the end of the day, I have more questions than answers,” her grieving father said on Tuesday.

Honoring Miya

Caili Sue, Miya’s cousin, is among the loved ones who said more needs to be done in Miya’s memory. She said she has missed her every day since she was killed.

“Life is a lot darker without her,” Sue said.

Miya’s loved ones co-founded the Miya Marcano Memorial Fund to support families of missing persons and to advocate for students’ safety.

Read the state bill

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Miya Marcano's father said the new Florida law gives him hope that no other family will have to suffer as he has.

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About the Authors:

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.