*UPDATED Monday, November 26, 2018— FBI releases photos of Hania’s “distinctive” Adidas brand shoes
*UPDATED– Hania Aguilar was found deceased. Suspect has been arrested.
On Monday, November 5, thirteen year-old Hania Noelia Aguilar was abducted in front of her home in Lumberton, North Carolina. Lumberton is a community with a population just over 21,000 in southeastern North Carolina. Both Interstate 95 & 74 intersect in the city on it’s western and southern borders respectively.
Her abduction comes exactly three weeks after the suspected kidnapping of Jayme Closs, also thirteen of Barron, Wisconsin.
Like most young teenagers looking for any reason to get behind the wheel of a car and rev it up, Hania grabbed the keys to her Aunt’s 2003 green Ford Expedition at about ten minutes to seven-in-the-morning, to “warm it up” before heading to school. She exited her home in the Rosewood Mobile Home Park and did just that. Standing 5 feet tall and weighing 125 lbs, the beautiful teenager with black hair and brown eyes waited outside her home after starting the SUV for her family to come out- when according to her sister, “Out of nowhere the man came in and they took her away. She fell and screamed and we couldn’t hear what she told us and then we went over there and we didn’t know what happened.”
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the case alongside the Lumberton Police Department, Hania’s sister described that “a male subject dressed in all black and wearing a yellow bandanna over his face”, then forced Hania into her Aunt’s Expedition running in their driveway. Within seconds several of her family members ran out of the front door and her relative ran to a neighbor’s for help.
At 6:54 a.m., the call was received by a Robeson County dispatcher who then patched in an interpreter because the caller spoke Spanish.
“We were going to school, a man came and took the girl and the truck”, the caller frantically said.
Later that evening, law enforcement provided the public with video that captured the family’s Ford Expedition turning onto the main road away from the trailer park at 6:52 a.m., seconds after she was abducted.
“This pursuit will be relentless. We’re coming after you”
– FBI supervisory senior resident agent C. Andrew de la Rocha
Video Surveillance Released & SUV Found
Around 8 a.m. Thursday, November 8th, the Ford Expedition was found six miles from downtown Lumberton and 8.2 miles from the Rosewood Mobile Home Park. Quincey Drive is on the border of Lumberton and Britts, NC. A resident having heard about the abduction saw the SUV just off Quincey Drive in a small clearing by some woods and immediately called 911.
Several segments of video surveillance presumably from residents and businesses in the area was released by the FBI on Thursday. FBI supervisory senior resident agent C. Andrew de la Rocha said during Thursday’s news conference, “Investigators came into possession of a video recording of what appears to be a man wearing light-colored shoes, a light-colored shirt, and a hoodie walking down Lambert Street and then turning left on Elizabethtown Road and walking toward Rosewood Mobile Home Park, where Aguilar was kidnapped.”
While agent de la Rocha quickly pointed out that the man in the video is- “just someone we want to speak with” and not a suspect or even a person of interest at this juncture, the videos only further corroborates Hania’s sister’s description of the abductor. The FBI also made it clear that no other individual could be seen in the same time frame before or after the abduction. After spending a significant amount of time watching the video, information that can be gathered about this individual indicates that he; at the very least- is a casual smoker and was wearing light colored tennis shoes on the morning of Monday, November 5th.
In a press conference on Thursday, Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill said, “Investigators are going door-to-door to talk to anyone who lives nearby. We urgently need the public’s help,” stressing the urgency, “We need them more now than ever to find Hania and bring her back.”
Observations and Thoughts
I was able to pinpoint where the SUV was abandoned based on aerial photos provided by the media and FBI. Quincey Drive in Lumberton/Britts, North Carolina is not a long road in a quasi-rural area- but far from desolate. In fact, I highly doubt that Expedition was there longer than the night going into that morning. Quincy Drive begins once a right is made off of CR-2216 or Collins Drive. It’s just under 4,000 ft long and ends when it runs into Alamac Rd. In my opinion, the SUV was abandoned off Quincey Drive something between the night of Wednesday, November 7th or the early morning hours of Thursday, November 8th. Based off of photos and maps- the SUV would have been obvious, the question is whether or not folks noticed it and thought it belonged there. If no one in the area indicated that, it’s hard to imagine it was missed, especially given how high profile this case is in the nation, let alone the area.
If you look at the bottom left hand side of the above satellite photo where the SUV was found, there is a neighborhood, perhaps a trailer park not far away, right off Alamac Rd. According to law enforcement in the press conferences, they searched the area within a mile of locating the SUV, the question is did they search house-to-house in that area? I have a hard time believing someone had someone follow him and abandon it in one of the most sought after SUVs with South Carolina plates and a Clemson Tigers sticker in the back window.
Some also question whether or not the video of the possible suspect walking towards the trailer park was taken much earlier, before sunrise as it was dark in the video. So dark in fact, that the infrared night vision lit up when he hit a cigarette in one of the segments. Sunrise was at 6:41 a.m. on Monday, November 5th. According to video surveillance Hania was abducted in the Ford Expedition by 6:52 a.m. and the 911 call came in at 6:54 a.m.
Speaking with someone from the area, the final and closest segment in the footage released was said to be about 5 to 8 minutes from the trailer park. You also catch a glimpse of the sky in the abduction video was rather dark. So if the individual was through there ten minutes prior to the abduction, was just as the sun had crest.
There are somethings very confusing about this case and not everything is clear. Some question if perhaps this was a setup by an older boyfriend or if this was a plotted abduction. While it is very possible she was talking to an older boy and they opted to pull a runaway, I don’t believe so. A young teenager fooling the FBI without supporting evidence of being a runaway? Possible, but would it go this far? The problem is that if she was talking to a boy or boys, they’ll find them.
Was it a plotted or targeted abduction? I personally don’t think so. The suspected abductor was walking rather casually, smoking a cigarette (which if they could find would be great for DNA) and didn’t seem to be hustling. I’d question why he was in the area at all at that time, whether on his way to or from a job, party or a friend’s house- I believe his first intent was probably to obtain a car so he didn’t have to walk. A sexual predator with a chance to grab a girl? Absolutely. While in numerous statements it has been said that Hania was pulled into the SUV, I do wonder if she jumped into the back after starting it and perhaps her sister fearing she would get in trouble? Who knows.
I don’t believe she personally was targeted and if that was his primary motive at the moment? Hard to say. In many ways you wish this was just a stupid stunt by a teenage girl and an older boyfriend. When that’s not the case, unfortunately each and every minute that ticks by, the odds are not favorable. One thing I do know, somebody knows something and they need to come forward, good, bad or ugly.