Family, friends remember Hania Aguilar on 14th birthday

LUMBERTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Family and friends of Hania Aguilar, who was kidnapped from her Lumberton home in November 2018, are remembering her on what would have been her 14th birthday.

Hania's body was found on Nov. 27 off Wire Grass Road.

Autopsy results suggest she was likely suffocated.

The community held a balloon release in her honor on Thursday.

"It was hard the first weeks but everybody got through it and we all know she's in a better place now," said Keandris Primer/Hania's classmate. "It warms my heart to know that people still care and that she's still out there."

Hania's mother joined the community in releasing balloons at exactly 6 p.m.- that's when Hania was born.

They also cut a cake and sang Happy Birthday.

The Lumberton Police Department joined in the ceremony as well and presented Hania's mother with a sketch done by the Philadelphia Police Department.

"Everybody is still upset," said Joyce Simmons, who helped organize the event. "We had something at the school for her birthday as well. The children are still trying to get over it. It's still so sad about this child getting done like this."

Hania's family is still waiting for justice.

"I will keep working hard for justice my daughter. I don't want her death to be in the eye," said Hania's mother.

Michael Ray McLellan, 34, has been charged in the case. He is facing multiple charges including first-degree murder and first-degree forcible rape.

After being connected to Aguilar's kidnapping, McLellan was also charged in an unsolved rape case from 2016. McLellan's DNA connected him to that unsolved rape case.

However, investigators had McLellan's DNA and the rape kit from the 2016 case before Aguilar was kidnapped.

Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said if law enforcement had properly handled the rape kit, McLelland would have been behind bars and never had a chance to harm Aguilar.
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