FBI: “We are at a critical phase in our investigation” as search for Lumberton teen enters week 3

State - Regional
New photo of Hania Aguilar_1541800730459.jpg.jpg

As the search for a missing Lumberton teenager enters its third week, FBI officials say the investigation is at a “critical phase.”

Monday marked two weeks since 13-year-old Hania Aguilar was kidnapped outside her home in Lumberton, Shelley Lynch, with the FBI, said. “We are at a critical phase in our investigation and need the public’s help.”

Officials continue to ask for anyone in the area with surveillance video from the morning of Aguilar’s disappearance to contact the FBI and police. 

“Many times over the past few weeks, we have asked for anyone in Lumberton or surrounding Robeson County with surveillance video to call us. Unfortunately, many have not contacted us, even when FBI Special Agents left business cards and reward flyers asking for a call-back,” said Lynch. ” If we do not reach everyone with video soon, that video could be lost as many systems will purge the older footage automatically. We are desperately trying to locate additional footage of the stolen SUV to determine when and how it got to Quincey Drive, where it was found on November 8th.”

“Today, we are expanding our plea for video to all of Robeson County, specifically along Highway 41/Elizabethtown Road and any side streets, especially along Popes Crossing Road, Wire Grass Road, and Lovett Road. Please call the tip line number at 910-272-5871,” Lynch added.

On Saturday, Lynch said officials with the FBI, Lumberton Police Department, and other agencies continue to actively follow investigative leads to find the teen. Foot and drone searches continue and police K9s have assisted in the search. 

Last week, rewards offered in the case increased to a total of $30,000.

FBI officials announced during a press conference last week that they would increase their reward from $15,000 to $25,000, and that the reward would be available to anyone who provides information leading to Aguilar’s location and/or the arrest and prosecution of the person, or persons, responsible for her kidnapping. The State of North Carolina is also offering a reward worth $5,000. 

According to the FBI’s Andy de la Rocha, the FBI and police have asked for the following information in the case: surveillance video, help identifying the man seen walking near the scene of Aguilar’s disappearance, tips about people who may have had changes in their behavior or daily routine, and people to walk their properties for any signs of anything unusual.

Chief Michael McNeill, with the LPD, also asked people to not spread rumors on social media because it takes away from the investigation. He said, in part, “this information is hampering our investigation.” 

FBI Special Agent Liza Vita shared a message from Aguilar’s mother last week. According to a press release from the FBI, this message reads:

“I trust in God that my daughter will return. No one knows the pain I have in my heart. Despite all the criticism and speculation against me, I would never use my daughter’s name in order to take advantage of this situation. I thank all those people who have provided me help. Please, if you know something, call. I ask everyone not to make absurd comments. For the love of God, respect my pain. I only want Hania, my princess, back.  I miss her.”

“Hania was outside her home at the Rosewood Mobile Home Park located at 3525 Elizabethtown Road, Lumberton, North Carolina on November 5, 2018 just before 7:00 a.m. The stolen SUV was found before 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning off Quincey Drive in Lumberton, North Carolina,” a press release from the FBI said. Hania is a Hispanic female, five feet tall, weighing approximately 126 pounds. She has black hair, and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a blue shirt with flowers and blue jeans.

Officials have asked anyone who thinks they may information in the case to contact the tip line at 910-272-5872 or the Lumberton Police Department at 910-671-3845. 

English and Spanish versions of Aguilar’s missing person poster can be downloaded on the FBI’s website here

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