Lumberton classmates mourn Hania Aguilar's death; search for killer continues

ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Lumberton Junior High School students returned to school Thursday for the first time since finding out one of their classmates was killed.

Now, the FBI continues to search for the killer, leaving a community on edge.

Investigators said Wednesday what everyone had feared: The search for Hania Aguilar, 13, was now being treated as a homicide investigation.

"We are absolutely devastated. I wish we had a different outcome for Hania's family, for the community, and for the hundreds of law enforcement officers and searchers who put everything they had into finding her alive," Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeil said in a news conference Wednesday.

On Thursday, many students at Lumberton Middle School wore purple, Hania's favorite color. A memorial in the front lobby displayed her straight-As report card.

"Memories of Hania, her loving smile, funny conversations, and kind acts will not be taken away by this senseless act of violence," said Principal SaVon Maultsby. "Hania will always be a part of our Viking family."

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School officials speak about Hania Aguilar

Aguilar was kidnapped from her home on Nov. 5. After weeks of searching, investigators found a body on Wire Grass Road, about 5.5 miles from Lumberton Junior High School.

Investigators found the body while following a lead in Aguilar's disappearance. The body is at the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy and official identification.

Robeson County School District plans to provide grief counselors for students dealing with these devastating developments.

On Thursday, the FBI said it is working with Lumberton police to "find the person responsible for kidnapping and killing Hania." The federal agency said investigators are continuing to follow leads and are conducting ground searches in Robeson County.

Wednesday, the FBI urged people to stop spreading rumors about the investigation. Agents said nobody has confessed to killing Aguilar and there is no person of interest in custody for the crime.

The FBI said there is still a $30,000 reward available to anyone who has information about who kidnapped and killed Aguilar. Call the FBI tip line at (910) 272-5871 if you can help.

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