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FBI Joins Search For Missing Florida College Student Miya Marcano, $15,000 Reward Offered

ORLANDO (CBSMiami) - The FBI has now joined the search for missing Pembroke Pines teen Miya Marcano and a $15,000 reward is now being offered for information in the case.

Police agencies searched in New Smyrna Beach, which proved to be a difficult area.

Deputies were riding ATV'S in brushy areas and they're searching through dense woods — using machetes to cut their way through the wilderness.

An aerial view shows the vastness of where they are looking for any sign of Marcano. The 19 year old Pembroke Pines woman has been missing for a week now, last seen at her Orlando apartment.

On Friday evening, her family held a vigil. It was supposed to be upbeat with music, filled with Miya's favorite songs, something to lift spirits, but it wasn't long before anguish and sadness.

It gripped this exhausted family, leaving them crying together, hugging one another for support.

"It's been a week that we've been up in Orlando searching for my cousin. It's starting to hit all of us," said Caili Sue, Miya's cousin.

Another vigil was held in Lauderhill.

Miya Marcano
Miya Marcano (Credit: Orange County Sheriff's Office)

"Hopefully we can find her soon, preferably alive.  The family has hope that she's alive, that she'll be found alive," said Carol Hylton who is a close family friend. She said they're all very grateful for the men and women in law enforcement who are looking for Miya.  But they want more information.

"We really would like to see some more definitive answers, what are you searching for, why are you searching, why you here?  More details of the investigation, the family would like to know," she said.

The family tells CBS4 investigators got a ping from suspect Armando Caballero's phone in New Smyrna Beach.

He's the prime suspect who died by apparent suicide. Orange County Sheriff John Mina remains vague about the mission here.  "As tips and leads and evidence comes in from cell phone records, internet searches, all those things, we immediately send teams out to search those areas," Sheriff Mina said.

Family and friends also passed out flyers in New Smyrna Beach, about on Thursday.

As of Wednesday Sheriff Mina said, "Our emergency response team and others have conducted nearly 30 searches, since Miya has been missing, that spans three different counties and has included about 175 personnel," said Sheriff John Mina during a news briefing Thursday afternoon along with the FBI, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement which are also offering resources in the investigation.

arden villas apartments orlando miya marcano
Miya Marcano lived and worked at the Arden Villas apartments in Orlando where she was last seen on Sept. on Sept. 24. (Source: WESH via CNN)

The investigation has led crews to search Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties, Mina said. Information and tips are being used to target specific areas in the continued search. He said FDLE provided a canine trained in locating electronics, specifically cell phones. Mina said he would not go into specifics on the role the FBI is playing in the investigation but said they are assisting "in the manner of technology."

On Thursday morning, deputies were ramping up search efforts at the Arden Villas Apartments complex. Residents said they received notice officers would be entering occupied garages and storage units as part of the ongoing investigation.

Mina encouraged residents to think back to last week if they saw anything suspicious and to keep an eye out this upcoming weekend.

"We're coming up on the weekend now. We know that many people will be out and about in outdoor areas, waterways, we're asking them to keep their eyes open and call us if they see anything," Mina said.

Marcano, a 19-year-old Valencia College student, vanished Friday September 24 just before she was supposed to fly to Fort Lauderdale to visit her family, authorities said.

Mina said Caballero, the suspect, was a maintenance worker at Arden Villas since June and had accessed Marcano's apartment using a master key.

Miya Marcano Armando Caballero
Armando Caballero (Courtesy: Orange County Sheriff's Office)

"Our civilian analysts are working on all manner of digital resources and social media in their quest to find Miya and our forensics detectives are processing all the evidence that we have collected in this case. So, we've issued search warrants, investigative subpoenas, tracking orders for cell phones," he said.

The sheriff also said they believed Caballero is responsible, though "we don't know all the circumstances involved in what happened there." He also mentioned the sheriff's office was given video that led to a search warrant being issued for Caballero's apartment and car "in less than 24 hours of us responding to the scene."

Meantime, her family is holding out hope that she will be found alive and well.

"We just want her to come home, just come home," sobbed her aunt Marie Sue. "Just come home Miya, just come home," she repeated.

Marcano grew up in Pembroke Pines and attended Flanagan High School where dozens who know her, including those who went to school with her, came to show support at a vigil on Thursday night.

Orlando Missing Student Vigil  Miya Marcano

Anyone with information on Marcano's disappearance is asked to call 407-836-4357 or 911.

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