Two Robeson County Sheriff’s Office deputies are now suspended in relation to a case that is connected to the kidnapping, murder and rape of 13-year-old Hania Aguilar, according to The Robesonian newspaper.
The suspensions with pay come after an internal investigation of the sheriff’s office, the newspaper reported.
As CBS 17 has previously reported, the man accused in the Aguilar case, Michael McLellan, 34, is also a suspect in a 2016 rape case.
Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said earlier in December that if the sheriff’s office had investigated the 2016 case, it’s likely McLellan would have been behind bars and Aguilar would still be alive.
The state crime lab named McLellan as a possible DNA match tied to a rape in 2016. They put the information in a report sent to the sheriff’s office in 2017, but McLellan was neither arrested nor charged back then.
“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.
Aguilar was kidnapped outside her home on Nov. 5 while she was warming up her family’s SUV before school.
Her body was found nearly a month later.
McLellan was charged Dec. 8 with 10 felonies in connection with Aguilar’s kidnapping and death.
According to The Robesonian, one deputy currently runs the jail and other suspended deputy is a detective with the criminal investigations unit.
CBS 17 has reached out to the sheriff’s office for confirmation of the identities of the deputies but has not heard back.