On Saturday morning, Ms. Marcano’s father, Marlon Marcano, said on Instagram that his heart was broken. “I need it to be whole again,” he said.
Ms. Marcano, who placed second in the Virgin Islands Prince and Princess Pageant in 2012, was often called “the family’s princess,” her relatives said at a news conference on Monday.
The Arden Villas apartment complex, which houses some college students, said in a statement that “the loss of Miya’s brilliant light and loving spirit is one that will forever reverberate in those whose lives she touched.” The complex said it was planning to have grief counselors available for residents.
Ms. Marcano’s disappearance follows that of Gabrielle Petito, a white woman who was reported missing last month and whose widely publicized case raised new questions about the tens of thousands of women and girls — many of them Black, Latina or Indigenous — who are reported missing each year and go unnoticed.
“There was an outcry when Gabby Petito’s case got a lot of attention, so I think coming so quickly on the cusp of that case, people were very outspoken about our murdered and missing women of color,” especially the case of Ms. Marcano, said Dr. Bethany Backes, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Central Florida.
Students at the university, which is in Orlando, played a key role in raising public awareness about Ms. Marcano’s disappearance, Dr. Backes said.
Some students knew her, and others live in the same apartment complex where she worked and lived, Dr. Backes said. Across the campus, fliers and posters had been plastered on buildings and elevators, and student groups worked to raise awareness about her online.