North Carolina prosecutors have placed blame on local law enforcement stating had police pursued evidence, 13-year-old Hania Aguilar would still be alive.
Robeson County District Attorney Luther Johnson Britt spoke with reporters Wednesday (Dec. 12) and said authorities were able to link suspect Michael Ray McLellan to an unrelated rape case for about a year but failed to take action.
“This hurts,” Britt said. “This is like taking a punch to the gut and not being prepared to get it.”
McLellan has been charged with first-degree murder and a host of other charges related to the kidnapping, rape, and murder of the teen. He’s being held without bail. Last month, Hania was kidnapped from her driveway by the 34-year-old and forced into a relative’s vehicle.
The eighth grader’s body was found last week in water and the SUV was found less than 10 miles away from her body. Britt told CNN with the help of an interpreter he spoke to the teen’s mother and explained their daughter wouldn’t be coming home.
“It was a difficult conversation to have with her,” he added. “Maybe the most difficult conversation I’ve ever had with a victim’s family — to tell them that had this information been followed up on — her daughter might be alive.”
Sheriff Burnis Wilkins said the department would launch an internal investigation.