Authorities ID body as kidnapped North Carolina teen girl

LUMBERTON, N.C. (AP) — A body found in North Carolina has been preliminarily identified as a 13-year-old girl kidnapped outside her home, investigators said Wednesday, bringing a sad conclusion to a three-week search involving hundreds of investigators.

Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill told reporters at a news conference that state crime lab tests indicate the body found late Tuesday is Hania Aguilar. While a final determination will be made with dental records, investigators believe the body is hers.

"This is the outcome that we all feared," he said. "We did not want to hear this. We wanted to bring Hania back home and bring her back home alive to our community. It hurts."

Hania Noleia Aguilar kidnapping case
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Hania Noleia Aguilar kidnapping case
The Lumberton Police Department and the FBI ask for continued assistance with the investigation into the kidnapping of 13-year-old Hania Noelia Aguilar on November 5, 2018. 

(Photo: FBI Charlotte)
This image released by the FBI shows a missing person poster for Hania Aguilar. Aguilar was kidnapped Nov. 5, 2018, from a Robeson County, N.C., mobile home park after going outside to start a relative's SUV before school. (FBI via AP)

The stolen SUV authorities say was used in the kidnapping of the 13-year-old North Carolina girl on Monday morning has been located, but the teen is still missing, officials said.

(Photo: FBI Charlotte)

She is described as Hispanic, 5 feet tall and weighs about 126 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a blue shirt with flowers and blue jeans.

(Photo: FBI Charlotte)

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He pledged to bring whoever is responsible to justice. Investigators said they don't currently have a suspect or person of interest.

The chief said Hania's body was found in a body of water in Robeson County about 10 miles south of the mobile home park where she was kidnapped on Nov. 5 after going outside to start a relative's SUV before school.

Authorities wouldn't elaborate on whether the body had been concealed, but said it was not visible from the road or obvious to people passing by. Investigators spent Wednesday combing the area in daylight after finding the body the previous night.

The cause of death hasn't been released, pending an autopsy. Investigators would not describe the condition of the body. An FBI official said he did not have any information as to whether Hania was killed where she was found or elsewhere.

Police say a man forced Hania into an SUV and drove off. The SUV was found several miles south of her mobile home park. The body was found a few miles farther away.

McNeill has previously said that a witness saw a man dressed in black with a yellow bandanna grab Hania in the Rosewood Mobile Home Park in Lumberton. Police say the eighth grader had taken her aunt's keys to start the vehicle to prepare to leave for the bus stop. They say the man forced her into the green Ford Expedition and drove off.

The FBI soon joined the search, offering reward money and transmitting her picture around the country. The SUV was found abandoned several days later, but signs of the girl or her remains eluded investigators for several weeks.

Drones, dogs and scores of searchers on foot spent the following weeks combing the county about 100 miles south of Raleigh.

A $30,000 reward remains in place for information related to Hania's kidnapping, the FBI said.

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