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Miya Marcano's family sues apartment complex where she lived, worked for negligence

The 19-year-old's parents say the Arden Villas apartment complex should have done more to protect and help find their daughter.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The parents of Miya Marcano are suing the Arden Villas apartment complex where she worked and lived for negligence in the 19-year-old's death. 

Marcano's story caught national attention when she disappeared on Sept. 24 shortly after a maintenance worker, Armando Caballero, was reported to have been seen letting himself into her apartment with a master key.

Caballero, who was said to have expressed unrequited interest in Marcano, was named a person of interest in her disappearance. Days later, the Orange County Sheriff's Office says he was found dead in an apparent death by suicide. 

It was eight days before officials confirmed Marcano's body was found bound with duct tape around her wrists, feet and mouth in a wooded area in Central Florida.

Now, the 19-year-old's family is saying the apartment complex should have done more to protect and help find her.

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The lawsuit filed on Oct. 18 against Arden Villas and its operator, The Preiss Company, is seeking damages in the excess of $30,000. As explained by the family's attorney, Daryl Washington, that is "in the excess," but he emphasizes the family wants change.

"We really want this to be the start of some type of change. We hope that not only will the Arden Villas take this seriously, but other complexes throughout the state of Florida as well as the country," Washington explained.

According to Marcano's parents, the 19-year-old was hired to work in the front office at Arden Villas in June 2021. At the time, she was also a student at Valencia College. 

While working there, she met several co-workers, including Caballero, who all mutually swapped numbers to communicate with each other. 

The lawsuit alleges at the time of the exchange, their daughter was not made aware by the complex 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."

Marcano's parents also claim Caballero's interest in their daughter "made her extremely uncomfortable." So much so that the lawsuit states Marcano expressed her concerns with others. 

The lawsuit goes on to suggest that the manager at Arden Villas "was not taking the safety concerns of the employees and tenants, very seriously" at the time.

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Court documents show that on the date of Marcano's disappearance, she was set to get off of work at 5 p.m. to catch a flight to Ft. Lauderdale and attend Miami Carnival with her family. 

Prior to leaving for her work, her family says they exchanged messages. The last of which, they say, was a text to her father saying "Love you too."

It's then that Marcano's family claims Caballero used a master key fob to enter her apartment and waited for her to return.

"Once Marcano arrived home, she encountered Caballero, who is believed to have attacked Marcano during a struggle. Caballero placed a dresser against Marcano's bedroom door to prevent the entry into Marcano's bedroom. Caballero would then leave the Arden Villas with Marcano, undetected by Defendants due to their lack of security cameras, policies, and procedures," the lawsuit reads.

The 19-year-old's parents say around 10:30 p.m. is when they realized she did not make her flight and tried calling her to no avail. They hopped in their car and attempted to contact the apartment complex's emergency line but never heard back because "no one checked the messages because the phone was not working."

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Attempts to reach management were also unsuccessful, according to the lawsuit. 

"At no time during the search for Miya did [the manager] or any of the Defendants attempt to reach out to Miya's parents. Had [the manager] made an effort to immediately confirm if anyone had entered Miya's apartment, she could have possibly been found alive," the lawsuit states.

Marcano's family says they believe the attack on their daughter and her death was a result of negligence on the Arden Villas' behalf. 

"We are holding Arden Villas apartment complex and its owner and the management company responsible for the death of Miya Marcano. The suspect in this case, Armando, should’ve just simply never had full access to the key fob and as a result, Miya is no longer here today," Washington, the family attorney stated.

10 Tampa Bay has reached out to the apartment complex's operator for comment. This story will be updated once we hear back.