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A year later, the life of Miya Marcano, her tragic story and legacy are not forgotten – Orlando Sentinel

Nearly 100 people wearing blue in honor of Miya Marcano, the 19-year-old Valencia College student whose death led to the passage of a state law in her name, crowded in front of the apartment complex where tragedy struck a year ago Friday.

“I’m a little torn today because this was the place that I know myself and Miya’s family said we would never return to,” said Jodi Covington, the spokesperson for the Miya Marcano Foundation that organized the candlelight vigil. “So much has happened within this year and the reason we decided to hold this is because Miya’s legacy must live on.”

The 19-year-old from Fort Lauderdale was killed by Armando Caballero, a maintenance worker who used a master key to access her apartment at Arden Villas in east Orange County last year. She was reported missing following a work shift Sept. 24 after she missed a flight to Fort Lauderdale to visit her family.

Caballero was found dead by suicide days before Marcano’s body was discovered a week later in a wooded area at the Tymber Skan apartment complex near Millennia. Her family members claim their complaints over how her disappearance case was being handled were not taken seriously by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Though Marcano’s loved ones called Sheriff’s Office multiple times and named Caballero as a possible perpetrator, it would take eight days before her body was found.

In July, OCSO suspended two deputies for failing to act urgently after Miya Marcano went missing after an internal review found Deputy Samir Paulino and his supervisor Cpl. Kenneth Dale mishandled the case. Paulino was given a 150-hour suspension for unsatisfactory performance and Dale received a 10-hour suspension for violating policy.

Sheriff John Mina, who had previously defended his deputies’ handling of the case’s early stages, said the investigation will lead to policy changes at the agency.

“As a result of this incident, we are in the process of making changes to policy that will direct first-responding patrol deputies to immediately notify their supervisors, and the Missing Persons Unit, in any case in which someone is considered a Missing Endangered Person,” he said in a statement.

The final report on the investigation into her murder, released in March, showed Paulino failed to identify evidence that a security guard at Arden Villas and family members discovered in her apartment suggesting Marcano was in danger.

“There’s so many missteps on every side, from the apartment complex to the sheriff’s office that was involved,” Covington said. “Speaking on behalf of the family, we absolutely believe that there are so many people at fault and as we said in the beginning anyone who had a hand in the death of Miya, the ones that were responsible to protect her, will be held liable.”

The tragedy led to the passage of Miya’s Law, which seeks to make apartments safer by requiring background checks on employees. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in June.

Earlier this year, the Miya Marcano Foundation helped launch a safe and secure apartment accreditation program that aims to create better transparency and security policies for tenants.

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At the vigil, family attorney Daryl Washington, said Miya’s Law will have an impact on many lives in the state of Florida.

“That’s not a small feat, to have the governor sign something so fast. That was something that shows you how special Miya truly was,” he said, “Miya is going to live on forever…Miya is going to make changes in this world.”

Marcano’s father and family members stayed mostly silent during the vigil. Her grandmother, Joy Marcano, led a prayer that said “May [Miya Marcano] continue to rest in peace…May she continue to save the world.”

Marcano graduated from Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines. She was remembered by loved ones as someone who knew how to make them laugh on stressful days.

Veonce Smith, Marcano’s friend from high school, told the huddled crowd how they often spent most of their days together and how she remembers her grandmother always having something prepared for them to eat after school.

“I remember people would say: Ya’ll must never get tired of each other,” she said with tears in her eyes as she stared at a poster board with Marcano’s face on it. “I’m going to miss you Miya.”

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