ShareThis Page
World

FBI: Man arrested in death of North Carolina teenager

| Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, 1:12 p.m.
This undated photo provided by Robeson County Sheriff's Office shows Michael Ray McLellan.  A statement issued by the FBI says McLellan has been charged in connection with the kidnapping and murder of 13-year-old Hania Noelia Aguilar. The 34-year-old McLellan faces first degree murder and other charges. He is being held without bond in the Robeson County Detention Center. He will appear in court at the Robeson County Courthouse on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (Robeson County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This undated photo provided by Robeson County Sheriff's Office shows Michael Ray McLellan. A statement issued by the FBI says McLellan has been charged in connection with the kidnapping and murder of 13-year-old Hania Noelia Aguilar. The 34-year-old McLellan faces first degree murder and other charges. He is being held without bond in the Robeson County Detention Center. He will appear in court at the Robeson County Courthouse on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (Robeson County Sheriff's Office via AP)

LUMBERTON, N.C. — Police have arrested and charged a man with killing a 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped last month from a North Carolina mobile home park.

The FBI said early Saturday that Michael Ray McLellan has been charged in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Hania Noelia Aguilar. The announcement comes the same day that a memorial service for Aguilar is set to take place at a local high school.

The 34-year-old McLellan faces first degree murder, rape and eight other felony charges. He’d been released from prison in June and was still on parole from a 2017 felony breaking and entering conviction, according to the News & Observer of Raleigh.

He was previously convicted in 2007 of assault with a deadly weapon and was released on parole in 2016, the newspaper reported.

He is being held without bond in the Robeson County Detention Center. He will appear in court at the Robeson County Courthouse on Monday.

McLellan was in custody at the time of his arrest on charges unrelated to the Aguilar case, police said.

On Nov. 5, police said Aguilar went outside to start a relative’s SUV to prepare to leave for the bus stop when a man forced her into the vehicle and fled.

Her disappearance sparked an intensive search. Drones, dogs, and scores of searchers on foot spent the following weeks combing the area. Police found her body several weeks later in a body of water about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of the mobile home park where she was kidnapped.

“This is the outcome that we all feared,” Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill told reporters after the body was found. “We did not want to hear this. We wanted to bring Hania back home and bring her back home alive to our community. It hurts.”

Police said they followed more than 850 leads and conducted nearly 500 interviews. The FBI’s lab at Quantico, Virginia did a forensic exam on the stolen SUV, which was recovered a few days after Aguilar’s initial disappearance. The North Carolina State Crime Lab provided test results on Aguilar’s body. Police said the exams helped result in the charges against McLellan.

A large turnout is expected at Aguilar’s funeral Saturday at Lumberton High School. Her father, who lives in Guatemala, was denied an expedited visa to attend his daughter’s funeral.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges could be filed.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me