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Hania Aguilar remembered one year after her abduction, killing

Photo of Hania Aguilar (Provided/FBI Charlotte)
Photo of Hania Aguilar (Provided/FBI Charlotte)
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The community is remembering 13-year-old Hania Noeila Aguilar, one year after she was abducted from her home in Lumberton and found dead three weeks later in a swampy, wooded area in Robeson County.

Hania was abducted back on Nov. 5, 2018, near her family’s home back off of Elizabethtown Road in Lumberton. She was found dead on Nov. 27 in a wooded and swampy area off of Wire Grass Road in Lumberton.

The autopsy report of 13-year-old Hania Noelia Aguilar doesn't list a specific cause of death but does say she likely died as a result of a form of asphyxia. The North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner listed Hania's cause of death as homicidal violence of undetermined means. It says 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 11/05/2018, this 13-year-old girl was witnessed to be abducted. At 1645 hrs on 11/27/2018, her body was found in Robeson County in a water-filled pit approximately 4 1/2 ft 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 a hymenal tear 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 of hymenal tear 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.

The FBI assisted the Lumberton Police Department early on in the investigation. The investigation led to the arrest of Michael McLellan, 35. McLellan is charged with 10 felonies related to Hania's case, including first-degree murder, first-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping. He's been held without bond since Hania's killing.

Two long-time Robeson County Sheriff’s Office investigators lost their jobs following an internal investigation of a 2016 rape case involving McLellan, according to Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins. Former Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said earlier this year that deputies didn't follow up after DNA evidence from the earlier rape matched that of McLellan. Only after McLellan's DNA was again found, this time in a vehicle involved in the kidnapping of Hania, did authorities say they connected the cases.

The State of North Carolina served McLellan back in June with notice of the death penalty in Hania's death. Prosecutors believe McLellan should die if he's convicted by a jury.

ABC 15 obtained court documents back in February in Hania's killing. The documents provided insight into the investigation that led to McLellan's arrest. The documents state that after the abduction of Hania on Nov. 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 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. “

A trial date for McLellan hasn't been set at this time.

Hania's mother, Celsa Velasquez Gonzalez, spoke at a memorial for her daughter back in March on what would have been Hania's 14th birthday. Velasquez Gonzalez told the crowd her life just isn't the same without Hania. The community has showered Hania's mother and family with love since her death.

Time Out Properties donated a double-wide mobile home to the family. Many people in the community donated furniture and other items for the home.

Hania was a student at Lumberton Junior High School. Her teachers said she was a great student who they loved dearly. In the days following her abduction, the school put up pictures and posters of Hania in the front lobby. Students also wrote special messages hoping that she'd be found alive. Some students said they're still shaken and upset over Hania's death.

Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill gave several emotional messages regarding the child's death.

McNeill said her death impacted so many people in the community whether they knew her or not.

The police department presented Hania's mother with a special portrait of the child at her birthday memorial.

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Some said what happened to Hania is one of the greatest tragedies in Robeson County and they're praying that justice will be served in her death

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