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The family of slain 19-year-old Miya Marcano is suing the complex where she lived over allegations that it failed to protect her from her suspected killer, who had a key fob to get into her apartment.
Last month, Armando Caballero, a maintenance man for Arden Villas, allegedly killed Marcano, a college student who was a tenant and employee at the apartment complex in Orlando, Florida. Before her death, however, she’d allegedly voiced her discomfort with the 27-year-old, who’d repeatedly expressed his romantic interest in her. But management at Arden Villas had “a reputation for ignoring the complaints made by both tenants and employees,” according to the family’s wrongful death lawsuit, which was filed in an Orange County court Monday,
After Marcano’s disappearance, the family did not receive help from the apartment complex or its owner, The Preiss Company, looking for her, the lawsuit alleges. Family members said Arden Villas’ emergency number, which they called shortly after she went missing, never responded to them. The complex also didn’t have adequate surveillance cameras or security measures, according to the lawsuit. .
“Arden Villas gave Armando Caballero the unfettered access he needed to kill Miya. They need to be held accountable for their negligence,” Daryl K. Washington, an attorney for the family, said in a statement Tuesday.
Marcano had no idea that Caballero “had a criminal background, a history of harassing women, nor was she aware that Caballero would have unsupervised and/or free access to her apartment,” the lawsuit reads. Nonetheless, he still made Marcano “extremely uncomfortable”—which she relayed to Arden Villas employees and her parents, the lawsuit alleges.
Family members are now hoping they “can get answers to numerous questions” through the lawsuit while also bringing “about changes that will prevent families from experiencing the pain and grief with which they are currently dealing,” according to a news release from their legal team. The complaint seeks damages in excess of $30,000, as well as a jury trial.
Representatives for Arden Villas and its owner, The Preiss Company, did not immediately respond to VICE News’ requests for comment.
On Sept. 24, Marcano missed a flight to Fort Lauderdale after her work shift ended at 5 p.m. Her family immediately suspected something was wrong: Marcano had been set to attend the Miami Carnival with her family—a massive celebration of Caribbean culture—which she’d gone to since she was a child, according to the lawsuit. But although she always maintained communication with them, her phone was going straight to voicemail.
Her last text to her father, sent just six minutes after she got off work was: “Love you too,” according to the lawsuit.
Eventually, concerned relatives decided to travel down to her apartment complex themselves.
“While en route to Orlando, Marcano’s family called the Arden Villa’s emergency number but to date have not received a returned call,” the lawsuit alleges. “The family later discovered that no one checked the messages because the phone was not working.”
Approximately 20 family members later arrived at Arden Villas, according to a recently released Orange County Sheriff’s Office incident report. But no one from Arden Villas or The Preiss Company showed up to assist them in their search, the lawsuit alleges. Only Caballero, her alleged killer, was there; he also sent a text message to Arden Villas’ manager to say that Marcano was missing, according to the lawsuit.
The family wound up confronting Caballero, accusing him of sending “obsessive” text messages as he spoke to a deputy. He was not arrested—a decision the family’s attorney has since criticized.
Law enforcement later found out that Caballero had used a key fob to access Marcano’s apartment hours earlier, where he'd waited for her to arrive home, according to the lawsuit. He allegedly pushed a dresser up against her bedroom door to prevent entry, then left the complex with Marcano, undetected “due to their lack of security cameras, policies, and procedures,” the lawsuit alleges.
Marcano was found dead eight days after her disappearance, bound and duct-taped in a wooded area of Orlando.
Caballero died by an apparent suicide, and his body was discovered on Sept. 27.
Arden Villas had a duty to ensure employees with “access control devices,” like Caballero, were trained, supervised, and not a threat to tenants, according to the lawsuit. Caballero should also have never been hired, but the complex and The Preiss Company failed to “adequately vet” him and contact his prior employers, the lawsuit alleges.
“I’ve not made it a secret that the family plans on holding everyone who played a role in Miya’s disappearance accountable,” Washington told VICE News earlier this month.