Michael McLellan linked to unsolved 2016 rape case during investigation into kidnapping, murder of Hania Aguilar

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Monday, December 10, 2018
Man accused of killing Hania Aguilar appears in court
Man accused of killing Hania Aguilar appears in court

ROBESON COUNTY, North Carolina -- The man accused of kidnapping and killing 13-year-old Hania Aguilar is now also charged in an unsolved rape from 2016, the Robeson County District Attorney's Office said Monday, thanks to investigative work that connected his DNA to both cases.

Michael McLellan, 34, appeared in court for both cases Monday.

The judge in Hania's case revoked McLellan's bond. The judge also said McLellan could face the death penalty in the case.

Right after that hearing, McLellan also appeared in Superior Court for the other rape case.

According to Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt, that case -- a 2016 rape -- was solved while police were investigating Hania's death and kidnapping.

Authorities used McLellan's DNA to connect him to the 2016 case, Britt said. He was indicted by a grand jury last Monday on charges of rape, burglary and robbery with a dangerous weapon in that case. He was given $5 million bond.

When asked why the FBI and Lumberton police insisted after Hania's body was found that McLellan was not a person of interest in the case even though rumors were circulating on social media that he had confessed, Britt said that it was because they were trying to build a case based on "proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

He said McLellan became a suspect shortly after the stolen SUV was found.

"There was sufficient evidence that we could have charged him but there was a hole that needed to be filled and that hole was finding Hania," he said.

Britt also said they didn't want to release McLellan's name "for the sake of avoiding the prejudicial effect on the subsequent prosecution."

"So Chief McNeil and the FBI were told by me that they were not going to release Mr. McLellan's name until we had sufficient evidence we believed to convict him," he said.

Britt said McLellan has not confessed in the case.

Hania was abducted from outside of her home Nov. 5. The frantic search to bring her home ended Nov. 27 when authorities found her body in Robeson County.

McLellan faces charges of kidnapping, rape, and murder in her case.

McLellan had been in custody since Nov. 13, when he was arrested on charges stemming from a case unrelated to Hania's murder or the 2016 rape.

According to that arrest warrant, McLellan was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, second-degree kidnapping and attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon stemming from an incident on Oct. 15 in which he allegedly pointed a gun at a woman and attempted to steal her car and money.

Britt said Monday that McLellan's DNA from that case was used in the investigation of Hania's case.