Family, friends to remember murdered teen Hania Aguilar on her birthday Thursday

North Carolina
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Murdered Lumberton teen Hania Aguilar would have turned 14 years old Thursday and an event is being held to remember her and celebrate her life.

Michael McLellan, 34, is accused of kidnapping, raping and then murdering the then 13-year-old in November 2018.

Aguilar’s disappearance on Nov. 5, 2018, sparked an Amber Alert and a desperate search that lasted more than three weeks before her body was found on Nov. 27.

The FBI said Aguilar was kidnapped when she was forced into an SUV outside her home in the Rosewood Mobile Home Park on Nov. 5.

That SUV was recovered Nov. 8 and underwent a forensic exam at the FBI’s lab at Quantico near Washington.

On Nov. 27, Aguilar’s body was found facedown and naked in a water-filled pit with a plastic folding table and tire on her back, an investigative report said. The pit measured 4.5-feet deep.

Her body was retrieved by a dive team, according to the report.

While Aguilar’s body showed “minimal evidence of trauma,”  the autopsy says blood was swabbed from her genitals as part of a sexual assault kit.

Due to the level of decomposition, the autopsy says a specific mechanism of death could not be determined.

However, she likely died by a form of asphyxia but the evidence of that may have not been found due to the level of decomposition.

McLellan was charged on Dec. 8, 2018, with multiple felonies.

He is facing charges of:

  •     First-degree murder
  •     First-degree forcible rape
  •     Statutory rape of a person under 15 years of age or younger
  •     First-degree sexual offense
  •     Statutory sex offense with a person 15 years or younger
  •     First-degree kidnapping
  •     Felony larceny
  •     Felony restraint
  •     Abduction of child
  •     Concealment of a death

Family and friends will gather at Luther Britt Park in Lumberton from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to honor Aguilar’s memory and celebrate what would have been her 14th birthday.

The public is invited to attend and is encouraged to wear purple — Aguilar’s favorite color — and bring balloons.

The park is located at 671 Branch St. in Lumberton.

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