Michael McLellan and Hania Aguilar

Update: Two deputies suspended for botching 2016 rape case linked to suspect accused of killing, raping Hania Aguilar [Police]

Two Robeson County, North Carolina, deputies have been suspended following an investigation into a 2016 rape case left stagnant. The suspect in the case is the same man accused of raping and killing Hania Aguilar in November.

The Robesonian reports that the suspensions took place after an internal investigation began with the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office. Maj. Anthony Thompson and  Darryl McPhatter have both been suspended after the arrest of Michael Ray McLellan, the man suspected of the 2016 rape and subsequently the rape and murder of 13-year-old Hania.

A state lab matched evidence from the 2016 rape to McLellan. The information was then sent to the District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office, but nothing ever came from it. In turn, McLellan was never arrested for the incident.

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Earlier this month, Sheriff Burnis Wilkins said he was angry that authorities let the case lie dormant, which give McLellan the opportunity to harm others. Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt agreed, and said McLellan would have likely been in jail had authorities followed through on the 2016 rape case, according to CBS9.

“We were actually meeting with Hania’s mother and her stepfather to explain to them what had happened to express my regret and our regret that this had been missed, and likelihood (that) had this gone forward and had we established a case against him, at that time, Hania would not have died. I can’t tell you how much that hurts. I can’t tell you how sorry I am,” Britt said.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Britt said deputies failed to gather the evidence from the rape and “overlooked it,” which likely could have saved Hania’s life had authorities acted in a timely manner.

During the 2016 incident, McLellan allegedly removed an air conditioning unit from the victim’s window, crawled into her window and raped her at knife point. The victim attempted to shoot the suspect but the gun misfired. The suspect reportedly stole the victim’s cash before fleeing.

“I don’t know what happened,” Britt said, referring to lack of action to arrest McLellan after the incident. “This hurts…..This is like taking a punch to the gut and not being prepared to get it.”

In November 2018, McLellan allegedly snatched Hania from her own driveway as she waited to be taken to school. He forced her into her aunt’s SUV, then drove the vehicle away before anyone could stop him. Hania was later found deceased in a remote area in Robeson County.

McLellan is facing a myriad of felony charges in connection to both cases. He remains behind bars without bond. He’s expected in court on December 21 for Hania’s case, followed by a January 7 appearance for the 2016 rape case.

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[Feature Photo: Michael McLellan; Hania Aguilar/Police Handout]