By Ted Scouten

MIAMI (CBSMiami) –  Saying goodbye to Miya Marcano, family and friends gathered for a celebration of her life, featuring Soca music, which is the soul of Calypso, it’s something she loved.

Soca singers Skinny Fabulous and Lyrika sang in tribute, along with singer Melanie Amaro.

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For family and friends, it was a tough day.

“Baby girl, princess, I wasn’t there to protect you when you needed me the most,” her uncle Marvin Marcano said with tears rolling down his face.

He recalled their last interaction. “We last spoke through text and I said, ‘you know your uncle love you, right?’ You responded and said, ‘Yes, Uncle Marv. You know I love you too,’ I wish I called you to hear you say it, but I thought we had forever,” he said.

Miya was killed last month in Orlando where she lived. It took deputies just over a week to find her body.

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The suspected killer was a co-worker at her apartment complex who was interested in her romantically. He was found dead a few days after she went missing — an apparent suicide.

The family wants everyone to remember Miya for how she lived, with her million-dollar smile and infectious charm.

“Her smile could brighten anyone’s day and her energy was radiant,” said cousin Devia Smith.  Another cousin, choking back tears, said, “Miya, when you left you took a piece of me with you. I know in my heart that you are looking down to guide and protect me.”

Those who loved Miya want to make sure did not die in vain.  They started a foundation in her name to support families of missing persons. They tell us it will help her memory live on.

“I love you baby, rise in power, fly high, we won’t stop until all are held accountable,” her uncle said.

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The funeral was followed by burial in North Lauderdale.

Ted Scouten