Breaking News Emails
Receive last minute alerts and special reports. News and stories that matter, delivered the mornings of the week.
By Phil Helsel
Investigators on Thursday continued their ground searches in search of a suspect in the kidnapping and death of a 13-year-old girl from North Carolina, while her classmates were arrested. They were ready to pay tribute to him by wearing his favorite color, officials said.
The students of Lumberton Junior High School will wear purple Friday in memory of Hania Aguilar, whose body was found in a water plane Tuesday, more than three weeks after his abduction in front of his home.
"This incredible act of senseless violence will not leave out Hania's wonderful memories, her loving smile, her laughter, her funny conversations, her kind gestures and her distractions," said Principal SaVon F. Maultsby at 39, a press conference.
Preliminary tests indicate that the body was found around 4:45 pm. Tuesday, near the Wire Grass Road in Robeson County, in a non-visible area, is that of Hania – but comparisons of dentists will confirm the identification, officials said Wednesday.
Hania was abducted outside her home at Rosewood Mobile Home Park in Lumberton on the morning of November 5, a few minutes before her family drove her to a school bus stop, officials said.
Witnesses reported hearing a scream and a man dressed in black, topped with a yellow bandana, forced him to ride in the sport utility vehicle of a family member and drive her . Hania had gone outside to wait for the rest of the family, had the keys to the SUV and had started the vehicle before being taken away, said her sister. The vehicle was found November 8 in the woods, officials said.
The investigators did not have any interest in the case and no arrests were made, but the FBI and the police were continuing the investigation and following the tracks and carrying out investigations. ground searches Thursday, the FBI announced.
"We will not stop – we will not stop until we find the responsible person (s) and bring them to justice," Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill said Wednesday. "We will not stop until we have done that."
Meanwhile, students at Lumberton High School held prayer vigils and made posters, banners, and other supportive displays during the search. The district said he would be there to support his family in the weeks and months ahead.
Maultsby thanked the police for the many hours spent searching for Hania, and she urged anyone with information in the investigation to call the authorities.
Kelvin Barnes, a math teacher, said the community had crossed hurricanes Matthew and Florence and that she had remained "strong in Viking" and that she would also be going through this tragedy.
"Staff members and students will always remember Hania and will always be strong in Viking," he said.