Law enforcement officers have taken a body found Tuesday near Lumberton during the search for missing 13-year-old Hania Noelia Aguilar to Raleigh for identification, but they have not said whether they believe it is the girl.
Lumberton police detectives and FBI agents discovered the body in an area near Wire Grass Road in Lumberton about 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, the FBI said in a news release.
They had asked the public for any surveillance video or photos from the area last week, and they had looked in the area by air and on foot previously.
The FBI didn’t provide additional details about what they found at the site or the specific location of the body. They gave no information on the person’s age or gender.
“The body discovered off Wire Grass Road this afternoon has been removed from the scene by crime scene officials and is on the way to the state crime lab in Raleigh for identification and an autopsy. There is no time frame for when a positive identification will be made,” the FBI said in a news release late Tuesday.
Wire Grass Road is several miles south of Hania’s home, where she was last seen the morning of Nov. 5.
“The body has not been positively identified, but investigators with the FBI, Lumberton PD, the SBI and the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office were following leads related to the search for 13-year-old Hania Aguilar when the discovery was made,” according to the earlier news release.
Hania, a Lumberton Junior High School student, was waiting outside her home in the 3000 block of East Elizabethtown Road to get a ride to school from her family. Just before 7 a.m., she was forced into a running SUV parked in the driveway, a relative’s car, police said. A witness heard the girl scream and saw a man wearing black clothes and a yellow bandana force her into the SUV and drive away, police said.
Tuesday, the FBI said it had notified Hania’s family of the body’s discovery “out of an abundance of caution” but repeated that they had not confirmed the body’s identity.
“Please continue to pray for Hania, her family, and each other as the investigation continues to find out who kidnapped Hania and hold them responsible,” the release said.
The FBI said its agents and local law enforcement “have followed close to 800 leads” and had completed at least 400 interviews in the search for Hania.
The FBI and Gov. Roy Cooper’s office have been offering a reward of up to $30,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who kidnapped Hania.
On Friday, the FBI said in an email to The News & Observer that it was searching “areas of interest” in Robeson County, including homes and businesses where they were requesting surveillance video “in an effort to narrow down exactly when and how the family’s stolen SUV” got from Hania’s home to “where it was found on Quincey Drive.”
The stolen SUV was found abandoned about 10 miles from Hania’s home in Rosewood Mobile Home Park shortly after her disappearance, police said.
“We need any video from Robeson County, specifically along Highway 41/Elizabethtown Road and any side streets, especially along Popes Crossing Road, Wire Grass Road, and Lovett Road,” according to the FBI.
The FBI has been seeking surveillance footage to assist in the search and focused attention on finding a man seen walking near Hania’s home. The FBI said it hoped the man could be of assistance.
“On Nov. 8, the FBI released surveillance footage of a man walking toward Rosewood Mobile Home Park on the morning of Nov. 5, leading up to the hour when Hania was kidnapped. The FBI continues to ask the public to help identify the man that is seen walking on Lambeth Street who then turns left onto Elizabethtown Road. He appears to be wearing light-colored shoes, a light-colored shirt and a hoodie,” the N&O previously reported.
Hania is a Hispanic girl, 5 feet tall and weighs about 126 pounds. She has long black hair and brown eyes. She was last wearing a blue shirt with flowers and blue jeans.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the tip line at 910-272-5871.