A man in detention on unrelated charges has been arrested in the kidnapping and killing of 13-year-old Hania Aguilar, who was abducted last month outside her home in southeastern North Carolina.
The eighth-grader was kidnapped from her driveway on November 5 in Lumberton, about 95 miles from Raleigh. An abductor forced her into a relative’s idling SUV and drove off, prompting an Amber Alert.
Hania’s body was found last week in water off a rural road in Robeson County, while the stolen SUV was abandoned less than 10 miles from the home, authorities said.
Michael Ray McLellan, 34, has been charged with 10 felonies, including first-degree murder and statutory rape of a person under age 15, Shelley Lynch, public information for the FBI’s Charlotte office, said in a statement.
Already in custody on unrelated charges, McLellan went before a state magistrate at the Robeson County Detention Center early Saturday. He’s being held there without bond.
McLellan’s first court appearance is expected Monday morning. It’s unclear what he was in jail for and how long before the latest charges.
Father denied a visa to attend funeral
When Hania is laid to rest Saturday in North Carolina her father will be nearly 3,000 miles away.
The US State Department has denied a temporary visa for Noé Aguilar to travel from Guatemala to attend services for her, according to the father’s attorney.
“I had hoped they would find it in their hearts to let me be there for my daughter’s funeral,” Aguilar told CNN in a brief phone interview Friday.
“It’s very sad. She was my princess. She will always be my princess.”
Immigration attorney Naimeh Salem said US Embassy officials in Guatemala denied the temporary visa on the grounds that Aguilar “didn’t have enough ties to his home country, Guatemala.”
“That is not true,” she said. “He has family there and his own business.”
Governor asks US to reconsider
Salem said her client has requested another visa interview but has not heard back from US Embassy officials in Guatemala.
State Department spokeswoman Marlo Cross-Durant said details of individual visa cases are confidential.
“All visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and other applicable laws,” her statement said.
“The Department of State makes every effort to facilitate legitimate travel by international visitors. We are also fully committed to administering U.S. immigration law and ensuring the integrity and security of our country’s borders.”
In a letter, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper asked the US ambassador in Guatemala to reconsider the visa application decision so Hania’s father can join others in mourning her death.
“As you can imagine, the family is devastated by the loss of such a promising young lady who was loved (by) her family, friends and was one of the top students in her class,” Cooper wrote.
Hania’s grandfather and a maternal aunt received temporary visas to attend the funeral, according to the attorney.
“This hurts,” Aguilar said. “This is not a visa for sightseeing or staying in the country. I’m fine in my own country. I have work here. I only wanted a day or two to bury my daughter.”
Aguilar said he last saw his daughter in 2005. He said they spoke on the phone and her mother talked to him about their daughter and sent photos. Salem said Aguilar had lived in United States and moved back to Guatemala when Hania was an infant.
Aguilar said he’s not sure what he will do Saturday at the time of the funeral.
“Maybe I’ll get lost somewhere,” he said. “I don’t know how I will deal with it. I’ll either stay home or take a long walk alone.”