Authorities have preliminarily identified the body found Tuesday afternoon as the kidnapped girl, Hania Noelia Aguilar, according to the Associated Press. State crime lab tests indicate the body is Aguilar but dental records will be the determining factor.
Investigators found a body Tuesday afternoon near the area in which they were searching for a missing teenager, Hania Noelia Aguilar, 13, in Robeson County, North Carolina. According to ABC News, Aguilar went missing in early November — and is believed to have been kidnapped. An Amber Alert was issued immediately.
The body found by authorities was discovered off Wire Grass Road as a result of following leads regarding the missing teenager. The body has not been identified yet, and there will be an autopsy. The family was notified, and the body was sent to the state crime lab for testing.
Aguila was abducted from outside her home at the Rosewood Mobile Home Park in Lumberton on November 5, just before school. A family member witnessed Aguilar start up her aunt’s car. A man dressed in black — with a yellow bandanna pulled over his face — grabbed Aguilar and forced her into the car. He then stole the car with the girl inside. The stolen vehicle was located a few days later on Quincey Drive, with no sign of Aguilar.
Surveillance footage in the area showed a man walking in the neighborhood near the time during which Aguilar was kidnapped. The footage indicates that the man was wearing a light-colored shirt, light-colored shoes, and a hoodie. Authorities wish to question him.
Superintendent Dr. Shanita Wooten of Robeson County Public Schools released a statement, according to Fox News San Antonio.
“‘The body is believed to be Hania, but the identity has not yet been confirmed. However, authorities have notified Hania’s family and they are waiting for the body to be positively identified.’ Superintendent Dr. Shanita Wooten and Lumberton Junior High School Principal Dr. SaVon Maultsby received word of the potentially tragic conclusion to the search by Sergeant Pete Locklear of the Lumberton Police Department. Upon receiving full confirmation, the district will provide increased support staff that will be made available for all students and staff at Lumberton Junior High School. This is an unfortunate end to an extensive search and we are committed to supporting all students and staff as they cope with the heartbreaking tragedy.”
While new evidence has surfaced, authorities want to remind the public that the kidnapper is still at large. Until there is confirmation, Aguilar is still considered missing. She is described as Hispanic, 5 feet tall, and weighing 125 pounds. She has black hair, brown eyes, and was last seen wearing jeans and a blue shirt with flowers.
Authorities are offering a $30,000 reward for information leading to Aguilar.