(ORLANDO) — The FBI has joined the search for 19-year-old Florida college student Miya Marcano as her desperate family said they suspect she was kidnapped from her apartment a week ago.
Marcano, a student at Valencia College in Orlando, was last seen at her apartment complex on Sept. 18 and a man Orange County Sheriff John Mina named Thursday as a “prime suspect” in her disappearance was found dead from an apparent suicide after investigators searched his home and car.
“We’re just ready to bring her home, but we need everyone’s help. We need every resource at this point,” Marcano’s aunt, Semone Westmaas, told ABC affiliate station WFTV in Orlando.
Mina said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that 60 detectives from his agency’s Criminal Investigations Division are working exclusively on this case.
“I know that Miya’s family and her loved ones are going through unimaginable anguish as they try and find out what happened to Miya,” Mina said. “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.”
Sheriff investigators initially named Armando Manuel Caballero, a maintenance employee at the Arden Villas apartments where Marcano lives as a person of interest in her disappearance. Authorities said Caballero had expressed a romantic interest in Marcano but she rebuffed his advances.
Investigators said the 27-year-old Caballero possessed a key fob to access apartments and his was used at Marcano’s unit just before her disappearance.
Caballero was found dead on Monday in his apartment from an apparent suicide.
“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.
He said that at this time investigators do not believe another person was involved in the disappearance of Marcano, but have not entirely ruled out that possibility.
Mina said the sheriff’s office Emergency Response Team and personnel from other law enforcement agencies have conducted nearly 30 searches since Marcano went missing across three different counties. He said at least 175 people have been involved in the searches.
The sheriff said his agency reached out to the FBI for assistance and that the federal agency has provided resources.
“We are working with the FBI and they are assisting in this case. I’ll just say in a manner of technology at this point,” Mina said.
He announced the FBI’s involvement after Marcano’s loved ones called on the bureau to help in the case.
Mina said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has also loaned investigators a K-9 unit that is trained to search for electronics, specifically cellphones.
Deputies were seen on Wednesday combing through storage facilities at the Arden Villas apartments in Orlando, where Marcano also works, and searching a nearby wooded area.
Marcano was last seen at around 5 p.m. on Friday at her apartment complex, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Westmaas said relatives reported her missing after asking the sheriff’s department to conduct a welfare check on Marcano. She said that when she and other relatives entered Marcano’s normally tidy apartment, they found it “a mess” and discovered signs of an apparent struggle.
WFTV obtained a video of Caballero walking through the parking lot of the Arden Villas apartments after Marcano went missing, carrying what her family said resembled items belonging to her.
“We were given that video right away,” Mina said. “That video led us to be able to do a search warrant on Caballero’s apartment and vehicle.”
Mina did not disclose what evidence investigators found.
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