LUMBERTON — A North Carolina Highway Patrol helicopter has entered the search for a 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped Monday as she waited to be driven to school.
The helicopter, also equipped to conduct searches at night, will be concentrating on the area around where the SUV used in Hania Noelia Aguilar’s kidnapping was found, C. Andrew de la Rocha, a FBI supervisory senior resident agent, said Thursday during a news conference. The vehicle, partially hidden by bushes, was found about 8 a.m. Thursday off Quincey Drive, near Alamac Road, in Lumberton.
“Someone called 911 and said they saw the vehicle backed up in the woods,” Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill said.
That prompted a search of the area.
The search was organized by North Carolina Emergency Management, according to Shelley Lynch, a FBI spokesperson. The searchers all were professionals, but Lynch did not know how many personnel were involved.
As for the SUV, the next step is determining how it came to be where it was found, McNeill said.
The FBI’s Evidence Response Team was called in to process the vehicle for evidence, de la Rocha said. Agents are going door to door speaking with residents and business owners in the area. They also are trying to collect any still images or video recordings that show the SUV in the area in which it was found.
“Our search for Hania continues every second and now becomes more dire,” McNeill said.
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 Lambeth Street and then turning left on Elizabethtown Road and walking toward Rosewood Mobile Home Park, where Aguilar was kidnapped, de la Rocha said. The FBI has released the video and it can be viewed online at www.fbi.gov. Anyone with information that can lead to the identification of the man in the video is asked to call the dedicated tip line at 910-272-5871. The man in the video also is asked to call the tip line.
The man is not a suspect or a person of interest, de la Rocha said. He may have vital information because the video was recorded about one-quarter mile from Rosewood Mobile Home Park about the time Aguilar was kidnapped.
“He’s just someone we want to speak with,” the FBI agent said.
Members of the public, particularly people who live near the mobile home park and along Quincey Drive, are asked to provide any information they may have, McNeill said. Any piece of information or any photograph or video recording could lead investigators to Aguilar.
“Please, call that tip line,” he said.
Finding the video and the SUV are two big steps toward finding Aguilar, de la Rocha said. Investigators are following leads every day.
“We are staying hopeful at this time,” he said.
On the day of the kidnapping, a witness saw a man dressed in all black and wearing a yellow bandana over his face force Hania into a relative’s vehicle that was parked in the driveway, according to the FBI. The vehicle was then driven out of the mobile home park and left onto Elizabethtown Road.
Aguilar is a Hispanic female, 5 feet tall, weighing about 126 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a blue shirt with flowers and blue jeans.
“Hania’s mother just wants her daughter home,” McNeill said. “We are asking the public’s help.”
On Wednesday night, about a 100 people gathered at a vigil at Dr. Raymond B. Pennington Athletic Complex to pray for he safe return.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]