LUMBERTON, N.C. – Police arrested and accused a man of killing a 13-year-old girl who was abducted last month by a fleet of mobile homes in North Carolina.
The FBI said Saturday that Michael Ray McLellan was charged with kidnapping and murdering Hania Noelia Aguilar. The announcement comes the same day a commemorative service for Aguilar will take place at a local high school.
34-year-old McLellan faces first-degree murder, rape and eight other felony charges. He had been released from prison in June and was still on probation from a crime in 2017 that was about to collapse and go into conviction, according to Raleigh's News & Observer.
He was convicted in 2007 for assault with a deadly weapon and in 2016 he was released on parole.
He is held without a bond in the Robeson County Detention Center. Monday will appear in court at the Robeson County Court.
McLellan was in custody at the time of his arrest on charges not related to the Aguilar case, police said.
On November 5, police said Aguilar went out to start a SUV of a relative to prepare to leave for the bus stop when a man forced her to get on the vehicle and escaped.
His disappearance triggered an intense search. Drones, dogs and dozens of researchers on foot spent the following weeks combing the area. Police found her body several weeks later in a water mirror about 16 kilometers south of the mobile home park where she was abducted.
"This is the result we all feared," Lumberton police chief Michael McNeill told reporters after the body was found. "We did not want to hear it, we wanted to bring Hania back home and bring her back home alive in our community, it hurts."
The police said they had followed more than 850 contacts and conducted about 500 interviews. The FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, did a forensic examination on the stolen SUV, which was recovered a few days after Aguilar's initial disappearance. The North Carolina State Crime Lab provided the results of the Aguilar body tests. Police said the exams helped determine the charges against McLellan.
A large turnout is scheduled at Aguilar's funeral Saturday at Lumberton High School. His father, who lives in Guatemala, was denied an accelerated visa to attend his daughter's funeral.
Police said the investigation is under way and further charges could be filed.