North Carolina authorities apparently didn’t follow up with evidence left behind after a woman was raped in 2016, which could have put the man accused of killing teen girl Hania Aguilar behind bars, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.
The News & Observer reports that Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said authorities let evidence “slip through the cracks,” which could have helped convict Michael Ray McLellan, the man accused of abducting, raping, and killing 13-year-old Hania in November. Investigators moved in on the 2016 case only after they received DNA results back from the FBI’s Quantico lab, which reportedly match McLellan to both crimes.
“Using a federal database in 2017, the North Carolina state crime lab discovered that a 2016 rape kit sent from Robeson County matched McLellan’s DNA, which was already in the system due to an earlier felony conviction,” Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said. “At some point, it obviously fell through the cracks….You hate it. You punch yourself.”
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McClellan’s DNA was already in the federal database due to a 2007 conviction for burglary and assault with a deadly weapon. After serving a nine-year prison sentence, McLellan was released in 2016. After his release, he allegedly raped a woman in North Carolina after he removed an air-conditioner crawled through window and assaulted her at knifepoint. Yet, the state fell behind and with a backlog of rape kits, didn’t process DNA samples previously taken.
McLellan was jailed again earlier this year for motor vehicle larceny and breaking and entering. By October, he was out of jail again. During the same month, he allegedly held a woman at knifepoint and tried to take her car. Weeks later he kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and killed Hania, according to authorities. Hania was standing in front of her family home in Lumberton, in her own driveway at around 7 a.m. in early November when McLellan reportedly forced her into her aunt’s SUV and drove away with her.
McLellan remains behind bars without bond, facing numerous charges in connection with both cases.
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[Feature Photo: Michael McLellan/Police Handout]