Local News

Students, teachers remain 'Viking strong' in memory of Hania Aguilar

Posted November 29, 2018 3:14 p.m. EST
Updated November 29, 2018 6:43 p.m. EST

— Students and staff returned to Lumberton Junior High School on Thursday for the first time since learning the news of 13-year-old Hania Aguilar's death.

Law enforcement authorities said Wednesday that a body found Tuesday in Robeson County is believed to be that of the missing teen, who was snatched from outside her family's home three weeks ago.

The announcement capped weeks of searching and pleas by law enforcement for help from the public to help bring the teen home.

Teachers and classmates are heartbroken over the news of the 7th grader's death. The sign outside of the school on Thursday read "#justiceforhania."

"The wonderful memories of Hania - the loving smile, her laughter, funny conversations, kind acts and fun times will not be taken away by this senseless act of violence," said Principal Savon Maultsby.

Andy de la Rocha, a senior FBI agent, said investigators have not identified a person of interest in connection with the girl's slaying.

The body that was found Tuesday afternoon off Wire Grass Road in Robeson County was located around 4:45 p.m., less than 10 miles from the girl's home. The area was not visible from the road and the body was found in a small pond, authorities said Wednesday.

"And now that she is home, they are concerned about making sure the community itself is safe," Maultsby said.

Authorities notified Aguilar’s family about the discovery of the body on Tuesday. A state medical examiner has preliminarily concluded that the body found was Hania, but dental records will provide final confirmation.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine how she died.

Hania had just started her aunt’s green SUV when a man jumped in to abduct her. The vehicle was located a few days later in the woods off Quincey Drive, which is about 10 miles from where the teenager was kidnapped.

There is surveillance video of a man walking on Lambeth Street before turning north on NC Highway 41 towards the mobile home park minutes before Hania was kidnapped. FBI officials would like to find that man or anyone who recognizes him from the video, although they have not said he is a suspect.

Lumberton police and agents from the FBI issued a statement Thursday, saying they are continuing the investigation to "find the person responsible for kidnapping and killing Hania Aguilar."

"We will continue to provide support and make sure our students know that they are always in a safe place in the public schools of Robeson County," said Superintendent Shanita Wooten.

Other schools across the county wore the color purple, Hania's favorite color, in support of her and her family.

FBI agents are continuing to follow leads and will continue ground searches related to the case.

Anyone with information about the case to call the tip line at 910-272-5871. A reward for information that leads to an arrest still stands at $30,000.