(COOPER CITY, Fla.) — Hundreds of mourners gathered for an emotional Celebration of Life ceremony for Miya Marcano, the Florida college student who was found dead eight days after her family reported her missing.
Her funeral will take place Thursday afternoon.
Family and friends embraced each other in front of Marcano’s casket, which was painted her favorite color royal blue, during Wednesday’s ceremony at Cooper City Church of God.
Loved ones shared their favorite memories of Marcano and talked about how she enjoyed dancing and celebrating her Caribbean culture.
“It was totally amazing just to be there and to experience the lives that Miya touched in such a short period of time,” family attorney Daryl K. Washington told ABC News.
“Hearing the stories from her friends, strangers and family members talking about how she was such a princess and how she brightened up the room every time she entered. It makes it so hard to accept the fact that this young lady lost her life in such a brutal fashion,” he added.
Marcano’s mother, Yma Scarbriel, is asking that donations be made to the Miya Marcano Memorial Fund, which is supporting and providing resources to families of missing persons while advocating for the protection of students and vulnerable populations, in lieu of flowers.
“Miya always said she would change the world and we want to ensure her legacy lives on,” Scarbriel told local ABC affiliate in Miami, Florida, WPLG.
Marcano, who turned 19 in April and was a student at Valencia College, was last seen at the Arden Villas apartments complex in Orlando on Sept. 24. Her family reported her missing after she missed a flight home to South Florida that day.
Her body was found Oct. 2 near the Tymber Skan apartment complex in Orlando with her hands, feet and mouth taped over.
Orange County Sheriff John Mina said last week that Armando Caballero, 27, “is the person responsible for her death.” He was a maintenance worker at Arden Villas and was found dead Sept. 27, three days after Marcano disappeared, from an apparent suicide, authorities said.
Authorities previously said Caballero had expressed a romantic interest in Marcano but she rebuffed his advances. Caballero possessed a key fob to access apartments and his was used at Marcano’s unit just before her disappearance, authorities said.
Washington said the family is working to establish policies that will assure maintenance and other apartment complex employees do not have free access to people’s apartments without their permission. He said the family is also in talks with state politicians to potentially pass legislation on the issue.
“There’s really no laws to protect people from this type of invasion of privacy,” he said. “Right now we’re working on it on the state level, but hopefully that’s going to be something that can really go on the national level.”
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