Miya Marcano Case Exposes Persistent Epidemic of Gender Violence

Miya Marcano BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of local10.com

Miya Marcano appeared to have dropped off the face of the earth on September 24, when she was last seen wearing a red shirt and jeans at the Arden Villas apartment complex in Orlando, where she worked and lived.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office explained that searchers found her body in a wooded area near the Tymber Skan Apartments in Orlando, about 20 miles from the apartment complex where she lived, on Saturday, October 2.

“Our hearts are broken,” John W. Mina, the Orange County sheriff, said at a news conference on Saturday.

More than 60 detectives worked the case. The search efforts spanned three counties and included 175 people, helicopters, and dive teams. The FBI announced Friday that it was assisting the sheriff’s office in the case.

Authorities initially said Armando Manuel Caballero, 27, was a “person of interest” in Miya Marcano’s disappearance. Caballero was a maintenance worker at Arden Villas Apartments and had expressed a romantic interest in Miya, but she turned him down “repeatedly,” Sheriff Mina explained.

Investigators eventually obtained a warrant for his arrest because Caballero had a maintenance key fob that was used to enter Marcano’s apartment on the day she was last seen.

As The New York Times explained, on September 27, deputies found Caballero dead from what appeared to be a suicide at the Camden Club Apartments in a suburb of Orlando. The sheriff’s office then considered him the prime suspect in Marcano’s disappearance.

Cell phone records showed Caballero was near the Tymber Skan Apartments, where Miya Marcano’s remains were found, the night she was reported missing.

Another family is torn apart

After Miya’s body was identified, her relatives told the media that it was difficult to move on.

“It’s a pain in the chest and in the stomach that we have. I don’t know how, as a family, we’re going to go on with this pain,” Marcano’s aunt, Gabriela Sánchez, said in a television interview with Noticias Telemundo.

“When I saw the news, and they said where she was, the saddest part was seeing where they left her — in a dumpster. And Miya was not garbage,” Sánchez said. “I never thought this could happen to our family, but I want to let people know that this could happen to anyone. Please take care of your girls.”

Unfortunately, Miya Marcano’s story is not isolated. According to the National Hispanic and Latino Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network, in 2020, more than half of Latinas have reported experiencing some type of gender-based violence in their lifetime.

These figures are consistent with those reported by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) before the COVID-19 pandemic. The difference is that the numbers of femicides seem to be rising exponentially.

Cases like those of Miya Marcano and Gabby Petito have once again sounded the alarm bells about the silent epidemic of gender-based violence in the United States. Jerri Winters, Shauna Witt, Shaunya Green are just a few of the names of recently reported victims.

Year after year, FBI statistics on homicides across the country reveal that a large proportion of women murdered in the United States are killed by current or former partners, The Guardian explained. According to the CDC, homicide is the fourth leading cause of death for girls and women aged one to 19 and the fifth leading cause of death for women aged 20 to 44.

According to the analysis of FBI data, of all female homicides counted in 2018 in which the relationship between the perpetrator and victim could be identified, 92% of the cases were of women or girls killed by a man they knew, 63% of whom were killed by their current husbands, ex-husbands, or current boyfriends.

This confirms intimate murders of U.S. women occurring at a staggering rate of nearly three women every day, The Guardian continued. These circumstances are drastically different from those of men, who are killed by other men in three-quarters of cases and more than a quarter of cases by strangers.

The worst part of the case is that, even in matters as serious as femicide, there are differences in race.

According to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, the homicide rate of indigenous women and girls in the United States is six times higher than that of white women and girls, and 94% of the cases are attributed to former or current partners. But the seriousness of this situation goes largely unnoticed. According to the center, half of the reports of indigenous homicides do not appear in FBI data, meaning that many lives lost are largely ignored from the official tally.

“When Indigenous women are reported missing, less effort is put into finding them across the board, numbers suggest,” The Guardian concluded. “In Wyoming, where the remains of Petito were found eight days after she was reported missing, white people are found in 81% of cases after a week of being declared missing, compared to only 61% of Indigenous people in the same timeframe — a difference of 20%.”