ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. - The man accused of kidnapping and killing a 13-year-old Lumberton girl has been indicted by a grand jury, according to WTVD.
Michael Ray McLellan, 34, faces multiple charges including first degree murder, first degree rape, and first degree kidnapping.
Court officials said the case was recently reviewed by a grand jury and McLellan was indicted. They added that this step is a "procedural step in moving the case forward in the court system."
On Nov. 5, officials said Hania Aguilar went outside to start a relative's vehicle to head to the bus stop when McLellan forced her into a stolen SUV.
Aguilar’s body was found 22 days later in a body of water, just miles from where she was abducted.
After following more than 850 leads and conducting nearly 500 interviews, the FBI and the Lumberton police charged McLellan in connection to Aguilar's abduction and death.
Authorities said he was already in custody at the time for another attempted kidnapping case.
Fairmont police said on Oct. 15, McLellan pointed a gun at a woman, tried to take her car and demanded money. He left the scene without hurting the woman. Officials said he turned himself in to police on Nov. 13, eight days after Aguilar was kidnapped.
McLellan faces multiple charges:
- 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 child
- Concealment of a death
According to Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt, McLellan became a suspect in the case shortly after officials found the SUV used in Aguilar's kidnapping.
When asked why the FBI and Lumberton Police Department insisted McLellan was not a person of interest after Hania's body was found even though rumors were circulating on social media that he had confessed, Britt said it was because they were trying to build a case based on "proof beyond a reasonable doubt."
According to authorities, after McLellan was linked to Aguilar's case, he was also charged in an unsolved rape case from 2016.
In 2017, COTIS--a federal DNA matching system--named McLellan as a possible match in the unsolved rape case and immediately notified the sheriff's office.
Officials said McLellan was in prison at the time for larceny and burglary charges and Aguilar's life could have been saved had he stayed there.
"In all likelihood had this gone forward and we established a case against him at that time, Hania would not have died," said Britt. "And for that, I can't tell you how much that hurts. How sorry I am."
Shortly after an internal investigation, a Robeson County Sheriff's Office investigator was fired and a second employee had resigned.
Sheriff Burnis Wilkins Jr. did not announce the reason for the investigator's firing, but did say that he was being investigated in Aguilar's case.
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