A North Carolina man has been arrested for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Hania Aguilar, who was found dead last month after being abducted from her front yard in Lumberton.
Michael Ray McLellan, 34, was in police custody on unrelated charges when investigators tied him to the killing of Hania, who was kidnapped on Nov. 5.
Hania was forced into a relative’s idling SUV outside her home in the Rosewood Mobile Home Park by a man wearing black clothes and a yellow bandana. The stolen SUV was found abandoned about 10 miles away, while authorities spent three weeks searching for Hania.
Her body was found in water in a wooded area on Nov. 27. She was just 13 years old.
“I wish we had a different outcome," Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill said at a press conference where he announced the gruesome update. "This is the outcome we all feared. We did not want to hear this.
“We will not stop until we find the person or persons responsible and bring them to justice," he added.
Preliminary tests performed on Hania’s body by the North Carolina State Crime Lab helped investigators narrow in on McLellan, officials said.
McLellan was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree forcible rape, statutory rape of a person under 15 years of age or younger, first-degree sexual offense, statutory sex offense with a person 15 years or younger, first-degree kidnapping, felony larceny, felony restraint, abduction of a child and concealment of a death.
All 10 charges are felonies. The FBI noted further charges may be filed.
McLellan had been in custody since Nov. 13, eight days after Hania’s disappearance, after being charged in connection to an Oct. 15 attempted robbery, authorities said.
He had allegedly worn a mask and was armed with a gun when he tried stealing money and a car from a woman, warrants said. He surrendered to police and was charged with attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm by a felon and second-degree kidnapping.
McLellan is now being held without bond for Hania’s killing at the Robeson County Detention Center.