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Man charged with Hania Aguilar’s murder indicted

Gilbert Baez, WRAL reporterMay 17, 2019

Michael McLellan, the man charged with the kidnapping, rape and murder of Hania Aguilar last fall, was indicted last week on a charge of first-degree murder in the case.

McLellan was already in police custody when he was charged in December and connected to the abduction and search for Aguilar that riveted the state for three weeks until her body was found in a nearby pond.

Lumberton police charged Michael Ray McLellan with 10 felonies:

McLellan was being held in Robeson County Jail on an unrelated kidnapping charge when authorities added the charges in Hania’s case. Since that time, he is being held without bond in Wake County.

His next court date is June 3. That hearing is expected to be administrative, an aide to Robeson County District Attorney Matt Scott said.

Another hearing to determine whether McLellan will face the death penalty is expected in the near future, but not at the June 3 hearing, the aide said.

McLellan, of 513 Marvin St. in Fairmont, was arrested Nov. 13 and charged with second-degree kidnapping, possession of a firearm by a felon and attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon in connection with an Oct. 15 attack in Fairmont.

McLellan’s name surfaced in online rumors as a possible suspect within hours of when Hania’s body was found, but authorities did not confirm his connection with Hania’s disappearance and death for days.

Hania, 13, had just started her aunt’s SUV on the morning of Nov. 5, family members said, when a man wearing a bandana jumped in an drove away with both vehicle and child.

A massive search across two states brought in the FBI. The SUV was found ​​​​within a few days, but Hania’s body wasn’t located until Nov. 27. In both instances, authorities were tight-lipped about what led to those discoveries.

Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies vetted more than 850 leads and conducted nearly 500 interviews. That legwork and testing – of the stolen SUV, recovered on Nov. 8, and of Hania’s body – produced the evidence for to charge McLellan, the FBI said in announcing those charges.

Authorities did not say whether he confessed or whether any evidence from him led them to Hania’s body off Wire Grass Road.

At the time, Lumberton Chief of Police Michael McNeill said of that search, “It was a deliberate plan to get out there.”

Evidence at the scene, he said, along with surveillance footage and tips, “All of it will help us piece together what happened to Hania.”

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