The Robeson County Sheriff's Office announced that they have fired an investigator who overlooked key evidence which could have prevented the kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl who was found dead three weeks after she went missing. Hania Noelia Aguilar was abducted in November and was found dead in a lake ten miles from her North Carolina home.
Michael Ray McLellan was arrested and charged with a laundry list of crimes including first-degree murder and first-degree forcible rape.
Officials said that they believe that McLellan's crime was entirely preventable because an investigator was given evidence that could have put the alleged killer behind bars in 2017.
Officials said that Darryl McPhatter was sent DNA evidence that linked McLellan to a 2016 rape over a year before he kidnapped Aguilar. For unknown reasons, McPhatter did not follow up and attempt to obtain a search warrant to investigate further.
Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt suggested that if McPhatter had acted on the information at the time, officials could have built a case and taken McLellan into custody long before he kidnapped Aguilar.
"In all likelihood, had this gone forward and we established a case against him at that time, Hania would not have died. And for that, I can't tell you how much that hurts, I can't tell you how sorry I am," Britt said.