A North Carolina man accused of abducting and killing 13-year-old Hania Aguilar is also facing charges for a 2016 rape case that was previously unsolved, a prosecutor announced Monday.
ABC11 reports that Michael McLellan, 34, appeared in court Monday to face charges in connection with the abduction and death of Hania, as well as unrelated charges from a previously unsolved 2016 rape. After investigators obtained evidence in Hania’s case, they charged McLellan with rape for the 2016 incident.
In a press conference Monday, Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt cleared up several questions concerning the suspect, including why authorities initially denied he was a suspect in Hania’s murder. According to Britt, investigators had to have “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” before charging McLelland with the crime or releasing details to the public, which could have compromised the case.
Britt confirmed that after receiving results from the FBI’s laboratory at Quantico, authorities linked DNA evidence to McLelland for both cases.
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“Mr. McClellan became a suspect shortly after the car was found. It was sufficient evidence and we could have charged him. But there was a hole that needed to be filled. And that hole was finding Hania…..We did not want to put Mr. McLellan‘s name in the public, for sake of avoiding prejudicial, the prejudicial effect it may have on the subsequent prosecution.”
Britt also said McLellan never confessed confessed to Hania’s murder and never told authorities where to find her body, despite online speculation and rumors.
“That is one of the many false statements that has been made in connection with this case,” Britt said.
Britt also said he would definitely seek the death penalty against McLellan, but since he’s scheduled to leave office later this month, the choice is up to his replacement, Matt Scott. According to WRAL, Scott said that although the case qualifies for the death penalty, he hasn’t yet made up his mind.
“This is a horrific set of facts,” Scott said. “It has galvanized the community. It has galvanized law enforcement. It has galvanized our office.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Hania was standing in the driveway of her family home in Lumberton on November 5, at the Rosewood Mobile Home Park, when man wearing all black clothing and a yellow bandana over his face grabbed her. The suspect forced the girl into her aunt’s SUV, that she had just started up for her family before they were to drive her to school.
The abduction happened within minutes and the suspect fled the scene with Hania and the vehicle before anyone could stop him. Britt stated Hania was likely murdered the very day she was kidnapped.
“It’s my belief that she was dead from the day that she was abducted,” said Britt.
It’s still unclear how Hania died. Authorities are waiting on the final autopsy report before releasing the official cause of death.
Meanwhile, the suspect remains behind bars without bail, facing a slew of felony charges.
Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
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[Feature Photo: Michael McLellan, Hania Aguilar/Police Handout]