COOPER CITY, Fla. — Nearly three weeks after she was last seen alive in Orlando, friends and relatives of Miya Marcano gathered in South Florida for a celebration of her life.
The 19-year-old Valencia College student was reported missing late last month after she missed a flight to visit family. Her body was found eight days later.
Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday for an emotional “Celebration of Life” ceremony in Cooper City, just north of Pembroke Pines where Marcano graduated from High School before moving to Orlando.
Pictures of Miya were on display over a casket in her favorite color, blue.
Miya’s family traveled to Central Florida from as far as Trinidad and the U.S. Virgin Islands to join the search for her.
On Wednesday, they joined friends of Miya’s from childhood through college to remember all the meaningful moments in her life.
“Miya just had the sweetest soul,” one speaker said during the ceremony.
Many who spoke of Miya said she would light up a room whenever she walked in, as family, friends, and teachers took turns sharing stories about Miya.
“She was one of the most positive people to ever walk the face of the planet. It’s amazing that her memory resounds in so many so greatly,” another person said.
However, Miya’s final moments were grave. Investigators say a maintenance man at Arden Villas where she lived and worked is responsible for her death.
Still, the goal Wednesday night was to focus on how Miya lived, rather than how she died.
“In those 19 years, she has truly made a difference.” family attorney Darryl Washington said. “Miya used to tell her parents all the time that she was going to change the world.”
To help her accomplish that, the family has launched the Miya Marcano Foundation, aimed at providing resources and support to the families of missing people.
“That was very important to the family, because they don’t want any other family to have to go through what they went through,” Washington said.
Washington says the family also wants to get legislation passed that would make it harder for apartment complex workers to have access to units without the tenants’ permission.
When asked if he intends to file a lawsuit in the case, he said he’d announce later when he files suit and who it’ll be against, but says he does plan on holding everyone involved responsible for what he called a preventable death.
“What justice would look like for this family is to see changes in the law,” Washington said.
That’s in progress, but Wednesday, Washington said, was about remembering Miya for who she was, the memories she made, and the lives she touched.
Miya’s funeral service will be held Thursday morning at the same Cooper City church where the Celebration of Life was held.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to the Miya Marcano foundation. Click here for more details on the foundation.
Cox Media Group