Every January, several new laws passed in the previous session of the Florida legislature go into effect. One of the more far-reaching laws that is now enforceable is one named after a Central Florida murder victim and will affect every apartment complex in the state.
Originally identified as SB 898, the bill became more popularly known as Miya’s Law. Miya Marcano was a 19-year-old resident of Orange County when she was declared missing in late September 2021. Marcano was planning to make a trip to South Florida to visit family, but when she missed the flight she was to take to visit them, her family became worried.
A subsequent investigation found that Armando Caballero, a 27-year-old maintenance worker at Marcano’s apartment complex, used a master key to access her apartment without permission. Investigators say Caballero had made several romantic overtures to Marcano, but she had rebuffed them all.
Caballero immediately became a prime suspect, and police interviewed him shortly after Marcano’s disappearance. However, lacking sufficient evidence to detain him, Caballero was ultimately released. Three days after questioning Caballero, his body was found in a garage in a manner that led authorities to conclude he had taken his own life. Days later, Marcano’s body was discovered near another apartment complex, her hands and feet bound with duct tape and partially disrobed.
According to friends and relatives, Caballero’s obsession with Marcano was quite strong and decidedly unhealthy. A cousin said in an interview that Caballero frequently texted Marcano, despite her clear and repeated admonition that she was not interested in a romantic relationship with him. Shortly before her death Marcano admitted to friends and family that Caballero’s unwanted attention made her feel quite uncomfortable.
As of the latest reporting, law enforcement is not looking for any other suspects in the murder, stating that the facts of the situation make it “pretty conclusive” that Caballero was responsible for Marcano’s untimely death.
A peek into Caballero’s past revealed several very disturbing details. He was arrested in 2013 on suspicion of being responsible for a bomb threat at Warner University. Only months before Marcano’s death, another woman alerted law enforcement to a weight with a note being thrown through her window, allegedly penned by Caballero and demanding a date from her. Although law enforcement interviewed Caballero about the incident, they took no action against him.
Prompted by Marcano’s apparent murder, lawmakers passed Miya’s Law. Under Miya’s Law, landlords of public lodging establishments or apartment buildings are legally obligated to run criminal background checks on all employees and prospective employees as a condition of employment. The background check must reveal both the individual’s criminal history and the sexual predator lists of all 50 states and DC.
Under the law, landlords have the right not to hire or retain employees who were convicted, pled guilty, or pled no contest to criminal offenses for acts that disregard others’ safety, and violent crimes, including murder, sexual battery, robbery, home invasion, stalking, and carjacking, among others.
Under Miya’s Law, if a landlord does not run such a background check, tenants may have certain civil remedies against them.