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After public pleas from the family of Miya Macrano earlier this week, the FBI has now joined the search for the missing Florida college student, just days after the key suspect in the case was found dead in an apartment complex storage unit.
On Thursday afternoon, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said at a press conference that the FBI, along with 60 detectives from his agency's Criminal Investigations Division, is now on the case.
"Hundreds of sworn and civilian personnel here at the sheriff’s office and beyond have been working around the clock to employ all the resources at our disposal to find Miya," he said.
Referring to Macrano’s family, Mina also described their “unimaginable anguish as they try to find out what happened” to the missing teenager.
“Miya was kidnapped. Miya was kidnapped out of her room at Arden Villas through her bedroom window,” Miya’s aunt, Semome Westmaas, told local news station WESH as she pleaded for the FBI to help this week. “We want Miya to be found, and whoever is involved ... we’re asking you to find them.”
The last sighting of Marcano, a student at Valencia College in Orlando, was on Sept. 24 at the Arden Villas apartments where she lived, and also worked in the leasing office. A maintenance worker at the apartments, Armando Manuel Caballero, who had been named as the prime suspect in her disappearance, was found dead on Monday of an apparent suicide; investigators had searched his home and car looking for clues in Marcano’s disappearance.
Caballero, 27, had made romantic advances toward Macrano but had been rebuffed, according to authorities.
"We believe that the suspect that we had named, Armando Caballero, is responsible. We don’t know all the circumstances involved in what happened there, but he was obviously the prime suspect," Mina said.
Orange County investigators do not believe anyone else was involved in Marcano’s disappearance but have not ruled out the possibility, he added. Nearly 30 searches have been conducted by the sheriff’s Emergency Response Team and other agencies spanning three Florida counties since Marcano went missing; at least 175 people have been involved in the searches, he said.
Caballero allegedly entered Marcano’s apartment around 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 — half an hour before she was scheduled to leave work. Before he was found dead this week, deputies were preparing to arrest Caballero for burglary, as he had illegally acquired a master key to the apartments, Mina said.
Before he was considered a suspect in the Marcano case, police said Caballero told deputies looking into her disappearance that he last saw her while they were both working, roughly two hours before the time she is believed to have gone missing.
Caballero was seen in a video obtained by WFTV walking through the Arden Villas apartments parking lot after Marcano went missing. He is seen carrying a blanket and gloves — items her family said resembled Marcano's belongings.
Caballero was found dead inside a garage used for storage at Camden Club Apartments in Longwood around 10:30 a.m. Monday, WFTV reported. Caballero had been dead for several days. the sheriff said earlier this week. His silver Ford Fusion was also found at the scene.
Marcano, a sophomore at Valencia College, was expected to fly to Fort Lauderdale on Friday night to visit family; she never boarded the plane and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Her father, Marlon Marcano, told WESH that he last spoke to his daughter on Friday afternoon, but didn’t hear from her when she finished work for the day.
When the sheriff's departed conducted a welfare check they found signs of a struggle and blood in her bedroom, WFLA reported. A gold necklace that Marcano always wore was found broken on her bedroom floor. Her belongings were scattered around the room and there was dirt on the floor. Relatives said that was unusual as Macrano is very tidy.
As the search for Marcano continues, Mina has asked area residents to keep an eye out for any evidence in the case in the coming days.
"We're coming up on the weekend now. We know that many people will be out and about in outdoor areas, in waterways,” he said. “We're asking them to keep their eyes open and call us if they see anything.
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