Documents show new details in Hania Aguilar murder case

    Photo of Hania Aguilar (Provided/FBI Charlotte)

    Unsealed documents in the abduction, rape and murder of 13-year-old Hania Noelia Aguilar show how police built their case against Michael McLellan, 34.

    McLellan is charged with murder, rape, kidnapping and numerous other charges in the death of Aguilar.

    She was shoved into an SUV back on November 5 outside of her family's home in the Rosewood Mobile Home Park off of Elizabethtown Road in Lumberton.

    Police recovered the green SUV on Quincy Drive Road in Lumberton on November 8.

    Hania's body was found on November 27 in a swamp off of Wire Grass Road in Lumberton.

    Documents state that after the abduction of Hania on November 5 two people indicated that Michael Ray McLellan arrived at their home in the Deerfield Mobile Home Park between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m., about two and and a half hours after Hania was kidnapped. The documents show McLellan was wearing all black or dark clothing, a black hoodie, a yellow bandanna, and having a yellow in color bag.

    Other than the bag, this is the same description provided by the eyewitness to Hania's abduction.

    The two people indicated McLellan was all wet, according to documents. They said he had a cup of loose change. Documents state that the owner of the green SUV used in the kidnapping said a cup of loose change was missing from her SUV.

    Documents show that McLellan was trying to sell two video monitors. When the SUV was found and processed, it was missing two video monitors, according to court papers.

    While at the home, McLellan asked if he could wash his clothing, which the two people allowed, according to court documents.

    Documents show while McLellan was at the home, the two people said their phones sounded due to an Amber Alert. McLellan's phone was turned off, according to documents.

    Documents give the following account from a witness:

    "A witness in this investigation, who knows McLellan, has provided information indicating that they spoke with McLellan before the kidnapping of Aguilar on November 5, 2018. The witness stated they observed McLellan with a black and silver colored handgun and that McLellan was talking about doing 'Licks'. This wordage is slang for committing a robbery. During the conversation, the witness indicates that McLellan stated that he was planning a lick and provided information on three different targets. The first was a mobile home park on NC 41. Based on the conversation, it is believed that this is the park on Resa Loop Drive. The second location discussed was an unknown location in Pembroke. Note: Pembroke is approximately 10 miles west of Lumberton. The third and final target discussed was the mobile home park by the Kia dealership. McLellan stated that Hispanics live there and that they have money and drugs. McLellan added that he had to be careful because there are cameras within this park. Note: the park beside the Lumberton Kia dealership is that of Rosewood Mobile Home Park. Additionally, another witness in this investigation has told authorities that Michael McLellan wears a yellow in color bandanna, so that people wouldn’t know he was black and, that people would think he was a Latin King; a Hispanic gang member. The witness stated that when McLellan commits crimes, he likes to wear a yellow bandanna to cover his face."

    Another witness identified only as K.H. gave the following account to police about McLellan:

    "On November 9, 2018 at approximately 5 o’clock p.m. a person identified as K.H. contacted the public tip line and reported an individual she knew as Michael Ray may have had something to do with the kidnapping based on the video footage she reviewed which was released by the FBI. At approximately 7:30 p.m., (November 9, 2018), agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) contacted K.H. who reported that Michael Ray had shown up in the Deerfield Mobile Home Park this past weekend and that he was not from this area. K.H. reported that she knew McLellan from living in the area of Lambeth Street. K.H. reported on Thursday, (November 8, 2018) that she saw helicopters in the air around the mobile home park and went down to see what was going on. She stated that she saw Michael Ray run to the wooded area at the back of the mobile home park when law enforcement officers approach the Park. K.H. reported she was not sure what Michael Ray’s last name was, but that he had just been released from prison in the last couple of months. K.H.described him as a slender black male with tattoos of tear drops under his eye. K.H. reported that McLellan is usually wearing a long sleeved hoodie, so she is unaware as to whether he has tattoos on his arms or not. K.H. stated that she has seen him wearing a dark gray hoodie with a black jacket over the hoodie and that he had two handguns, one on each side. K.H. reported that McLellan was arrested for beating an employee and stealing a car from Rock Star Auto Sales a couple of years ago. “

    On November 8, 2018 another witness said that he was near McLellan when police were searching for Hania near Deerfield Mobile Home Park and said McLellan took off running as four police officers approached them. The witness said McLellan was a very fast runner even though he was wearing white Jordan shoes with no shoe laces.

    As far as the SUV used in the abduction, documents show, McLellan denied taking the vehicle.

    The documents state, “It should be noted that when McLellan was being interviewed by the FBI S/A David Smith on November 12, 2018 at the Lumberton Police Department, McLellan was asked, at least two separate times during the course of the interview, about the Ford Expedition that was recovered on November 8, 2018. Each time, McLellan emphatically denied knowing anything about the Expedition, that he had never seen the vehicle before and certainly had never been inside the vehicle. This, despite the fact that McLellan’s DNA was recovered from the steering wheel of the vehicle.”

    Police seized McLellan's cell phone records, clothing, evidence from the SUV used in the crime, including the 13-year-old's undergarments found inside.

    An autopsy report released this week listed Hania's cause of death as homicidal violence of undetermined means, but is most likely due to asphyxia.

    It shows her unclad, mildly decomposed body was found "partially submerged in a muddy pit under plastic folding table."

    The following summary is an excerpt from the autopsy report:

    "According to the case calls and information from law enforcement present at autopsy, on November 5, 2018, this 13-year-old girl was witnessed to be abducted. At 1645 hrs on November 27, 2018, her body was found in Robeson County in a water-filled pit approximately 4 1/2 feet deep. She was reported to be face down, unclad, with a plastic folding table on her back. Death was pronounced at the scene without attempted medical intervention. The water temperature was reported to be 40 degrees Fahrenheit."

    The autopsy documented mild-moderate decomposition in a well-developed, well-nourished, adolescent girl, with signs of rape and otherwise minimal evidence of trauma. She had no apparent natural disease. Toxicological testing detected ethanol and isopropanol, both of which may be formed by processes of decomposition. No common drugs of abuse or medications were detected.

    Due in part to limitations imposed by decomposition, the autopsy did not elucidate a specific mechanism of death. However, the totality of the circumstances and findings (including the history of abduction, autopsy evidence consistent with sexual assault and clandestine disposal of the body) indicate death by homicidal violence. With the likelihood of homicidal violence and the exclusion of other causes of death as determined by the autopsy, the means of death was most likely a form of asphyxia, which in some circumstances, may leave only subtle or even no findings detectable, especially after decomposition occurs. Potential mechanisms of asphyxia may have included neck pressure/strangulation, external obstruction of the airway, internal obstruction of the airway (as by gag), mechanical means (compression, weighting, or restriction of chest movement), or other possibilities, as well as combinations thereof. As such, based on the autopsy findings and circumstances surrounding the death, the cause of death is listed as homicidal violence of undetermined means. The manner of death is classified as homicide."

    We obtained the Robeson County Medical Examiner's report on Hania's death.

    McLellan is charged with 10 felonies related to Hania's case, including first-degree murder, first-degree rape, and first-degree kidnapping. He was denied bond Monday on those charges. If convicted, McLellan may face the death penalty.

    A longtime Robeson County investigator resigned and another was fired following an internal investigation into a case connected to Hania's murder. Former Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said that deputies didn't follow up after DNA evidence from the earlier rape matched that of McLellan.

    McLellan is being held at a prison in Raleigh until his case goes to trial.

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