LUMBERTON, N.C. – A North Carolina district attorney says authorities last year didn’t investigate DNA evidence linking a 2016 rape to a man accused in the recent slaying of a teenage girl.
The News & Observer reports Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said Tuesday that an investigation into the DNA linking Michael Ray McLellan to the 2016 rape “fell through the cracks.”
McLellan is charged with raping and killing 13-year-old Hania Noelia Aguilar, who was kidnapped from outside her Lumberton home in November. Her body was found weeks later.
Investigators said Monday that DNA was essential in linking McLellan to Hania’s death. Britt says that DNA was matched to DNA evidence already linked to a 2016 rape in which a man broke into a woman’s home and raped her at knifepoint.
The public information officer for the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office Major Damien R McLean released the following statement Wednesday on the matter:
“Since taking office on December 3, 2018, I have been briefed regarding the investigation of Hania Aguilar by the Robeson County District Attorney’s Office about an incident in 2016 within Robeson County. I have since met with my command staff and an investigation has begun within the Internal Affairs Division regarding this serious matter brought forth by the Robeson County District Attorney’s Office.
Sheriff Burnis Wilkins stated that as the Newly Elected Sheriff of Robeson County, he will serve the citizens of Robeson County with transparency and within an ethical manner. Again, we are in the infant stages of the investigation, and once we determine what occurred the citizens will be made aware of the findings.”