North Carolina

Naked body of slain NC teen was covered by a plastic table and a tire, autopsy says

The naked body of 13-year-old Hania Aguilar was discovered in a pit of muddy water in the woods, covered with a plastic table and a tire, an autopsy report says.

Hania was abducted from the front yard of her family’s Lumberton home in Eastern North Carolina on Nov. 5 while waiting for a ride to school. Her body was found 22 days later in a swampy area about 10 miles away.

The N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released an autopsy report for Hania on Tuesday. The cause of death is listed as “homicidal violence of undetermined means,” likely by some form of asphyxia.

An examination showed signs of sexual assault, according to the report.

Michael Ray McLellan, 34, of nearby Fairmont was charged in December with Hania’s rape and murder.

The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office failed to follow up on DNA evidence from the state crime lab linking McLellan to a 2016 rape. Last month, Sheriff Burnis Wilkins announced that one investigator was fired after an internal probe and another resigned.

Former Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt has said Hania might still be alive if investigators has properly handled the evidence results from the 2016 case.

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Josh Shaffer covers Wake County and federal courts. He has been a reporter for The News & Observer since 2004 and previously wrote a column about unusual people and places.