Police say they’ve located the body of a Florida student who’d been missing for more than a week, and they believe a maintenance man at her building is responsible for her death.
Miya Marcano, 19, was reported missing on Sept. 24 after she didn’t make it on a flight home to Fort Lauderdale. A couple days later, Armando Manuel Caballero, 27, a maintenance man at the apartment building where Marcano lived and worked, was found dead by suicide. Police say Caballero repeatedly made advances on Marcano.
Caballero was a “person of interest” in the case; police had issued a warrant for his arrest on burglary charges because he had entered Marcano’s apartment using a master key fob on the day she was last seen.
Orange County Sheriff John Mina told reporters Saturday a body they believe to be Marcano’s was found that morning in a wooded area near an apartment complex where Caballero used to live. Caballero had been at that apartment complex on the night Marcano was reported missing, Mina said.
“Our hearts are broken,” Mina said. “Hundreds of Orange County Sheriff’s Office personnel were committed to this case and working very hard. Everyone wanted this outcome to be different.”
Though he said police are “very certain” they found Marcano’s body, they are awaiting confirmation from a medical examiner.
Mina said police believe “conclusively” that Caballero alone was responsible for Marcano’s death and they they will have a clear picture of exactly what happened to her once all the evidence is processed.
Mina previously said Caballero “had demonstrated a romantic interest in Miya” and was “repeatedly rebuffed.”
The case highlights a sadly common theme in femicides: women who are killed by men they rejected.
In early September, Saskatchewan teacher Charlene Graham was killed by her estranged husband in an apparent murder-suicide; one of her sisters told CBC News she was scared when Graham started dating someone new.
"I looked at my husband and I said, 'You know, Delane will never let her be happy. He's obsessed with her. He's crazy,’” Roxanne Aubichon said. “I just had a bad feeling."
Graham’s family said they think police didn’t act quickly enough to check on Graham the day she was killed.
Julie Lalonde, a public educator who gives workshops on preventing violence against women, said cases like Marcano’s show the advice given to women—that they should be clear with men and not lead them on—is insufficient.
“We are clear, and we still get harmed,” she said.
Lalonde said her workshops on addressing stalking focus on teaching men how to handle rejection.
“Our failure to teach men vulnerability means they take their hurt feelings and turn them into anger, defensiveness, or a hunger for retaliation,” Lalonde said. Even on the lesser end of the scale, she said men often take rejection as a sign to “try harder.”
Lalonde has previously told VICE News that police can also minimize the actions of men who exhibit stalking behaviour or not offer enough protection.
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