LUMBERTON, N.C. (WNCN) – Lumberton police said a body found Tuesday afternoon has been identified as that of 13-year-old Hania Aguilar.
Police Chief Michael McNeil said preliminary tests identified the body as that of Aguilar. McNeil said they are still waiting for official confirmation based on dental records, as well as an autopsy for determine how Hania died.
“We did not want to hear this. We wanted to bring Hania back home alive, and back home to our community,” McNeil said.
On Tuesday, a body was found in Robeson County during the search for Aguilar. The teen had been missing for three weeks. She was abducted and forced into a car outside her home in the Rosewood Mobile Home Park.
The body was found in a body of water off Wire Grass Road around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, according to Sheriff Ken Sealey.
FBI agent Andy De la Rocha said investigators collected more evidence from the scene Wednesday morning. He said investigators were not immediately able to determine how long the body had been where it was found.
“Devastation knowing something could happen so close to your home like that. You hear it in New York, but in a little small town like this, it’s just different,” said Andrew Townsend. He works in a home on Wire Grass Road. Not far from where the body was discovered.
Wire Grass Road has been a point of interest for investigators. Last week, Lumberton police asked for any surveillance video residents or business owners may have of the area. They want to determine how the SUV used in Hania’s abduction made it from the Rosewood Mobile Home Park to Quincey Drive where it was found abandoned.
“I’d been looking because they always said the vehicle came through this area, so we’d always look out to see if we see someone who looked like her,” Townsend said.
The FBI and Lumberton police sid the case is not over. They are still working to bring Aguilar’s killer to justice.
“We will not stop until we find the person or persons responsible, and we bring them to justice. We will not stop until we do that,” McNeil said.
De la Rocha said investigators do not have a person of interest in the case. They also asked people to stop spreading rumors on social media.
“Last night, I had to stand in front of Hania’s mother and explain to her what we had found. You can all imagine what that did to her,” De la Rocha said. “Can you further imagine what is happening to her today as she hears things they are not based in fact, that are purely speculative and are rumors?”
The FBI is asking anyone with information to call the tip line at 910-272-5871.
A $30,000 reward remains in place for the arrest and conviction in the case.