Local News

Church community feels loss of missing Hania Aguilar

Posted November 9, 2018 9:44 p.m. EST
Updated November 9, 2018 11:49 p.m. EST

— In the time of sadness and pain for a St. Andrews Catholic Church family in Red Springs, prayer can be like a universal language, a source of refuge and strength.

Hania Aguilar, 13, was abducted outside her Lumberton mobile home Monday morning.

She and her family are said to be regulars at a weekly prayer service Fridays at the church. Aguilar is also a member of the confirmation class that meets Wednesdays.

The eighth-grader at Lumberton Junior High School was last seen Monday morning, standing outside her family's home in the Rosewood Mobile Home Park, at 3525 E. Elizabethtown Road. Authorities say she was abducted by a man dressed in black with a yellow bandana over his face. He grabbed Aguilar and drove off in her aunt's SUV.

Churchgoers on Friday said they felt her absence and missed her presence.

“Hearing from her classmates on Wednesday that it’s not the same without her, it’s hurting them,” parishioner Raul Alvarado said.

Investigators released new pictures of Aguilar Friday night, showing her smiling and posing mere days before she was abducted.

Members of her church family were not just praying for her safe return, they said, but also that the fear growing within the community will subside.

“I have my granddaughter, and she’s scared,” said Sylvia Crovetto, a prayer group leader.

The congregation has many girls Aguilar's age.

“When I think about her, I don’t know how she’s feeling,” Crovetto said. “We are mothers, and we’re thinking, this can be my daughter. It’s really hard.”

During a news conference on Friday, Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill said it breaks his heart that they have not found Hania yet.

He pleaded for help from neighbors.

"Now, we're asking anyone who lives within a mile of Quincey Drive to check your own property. Check your outsheds, your outbuildings. You know them better than we do," he said.

The FBI is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to Hania. On Friday, the governor's office offered an additional $5,000.