Hundreds of mourners packed a Florida church Thursday to pay their last respects to slain 19-year-old college student Miya Marcano, remembering her as a “vibrant butterfly.”
Her family asked that the young woman not be forgotten — saying she deserved the same media attention as Long Island native Gabby Petito, whose disappearance and death have captivated the nation for more than a month.
“My niece did not deserve this, nor does any woman for that matter,” Marcano’s uncle, Marc Marcano, said during the service at the Cooper City Church of God in Florida.
“We ask and respectfully expect that the media keep Miya’s name and story out there,” he said. “Because although we sympathize with the Petito family, Miya’s story is no different and deserves the same attention.”
The service comes nearly two weeks after Marcano’s body was found outside an Orlando apartment complex.
Her uncle recalled that “she had a laugh that would make you laugh, and she always had a nickname for everyone, myself included. I’m sure she had plenty of jokes about her bitter old crazy uncle Marc.”
The service included a moving video tribute, and performances by some of Marcano’s favorite artists, including Nigerian singer Lyrikal and Caribbean singer Skinny Fabulous, who wrote a song in her honor.
The church and her coffin were decorated in blue — her favorite color — with two large photos of her at the front of the chapel.
“Miya’s facial expressions, body language and magnetic energy pulled people in,” her cousin, Caili Sue, said during the eulogy. “While Miya was a little shy on regular days, when it was showtime, she transformed herself into a different person.
“She opened up like the vibrant butterfly that she was,” she said.
Marcano, a student at Valencia College, was reported missing on Sept. 24 and was found dead near the Tymber Skan on the Lake Condominiums in Orlando on Oct. 2.
Authorities said the main suspect in her disappearance was Armando Manuel Caballero, a maintenance man at the apartment complex who had reportedly made repeated sexual advances that were rebuffed by Marcano.
Marcano’s family had confronted Caballero the day after she went missing, angrily accusing him of being responsible for her disappearance and chiding him for “obsessive texts” they said he had been sending the co-ed.
Caballero was found dead in his apartment on Sept. 27 in an apparent suicide.
Marcano’s body was discovered on Oct. 2.
Friends and relatives came from Trinidad, the US Virgin Islands and from across the nation to attend the service.