RALEIGH, N. C. – A kidnapped and killed 13-year-old North Carolina girl probably died of suffocation or strangulation, but her cause of death could not be determined conclusively, according to an autopsy released Wednesday.
It is the Office of the Chief Medical examiner ruled that Hania Aguilar died of undetermined violence. The autopsy found she most likely died of suffocation because other causes of death were excluded.
Officials examined evidence that she was abducted and sexually assaulted before her body was hidden under the water. The autopsy found evidence of sexual abuse.
“ly because of the limitations imposed by the decomposition, the autopsy does not explain a specific mechanism of death,” the autopsy report said. “However, the totality of the circumstances and findings … indicate death by homicidal violence.”
The medical examiner’s report said that her naked body was found in the end of November, face down under a folding plastic table that was also weighed down by a tire in a water filled pit, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) from her home.
Hania disappeared Nov. 5 of a mobile home park when they went outside to begin with a relative SUV for the school. Authorities believe Aguilar was forced into the SUV and driven away. The SUV was later found a few miles away.
Scores of people have joined an intensive search that garnered national attention.
Michael Ray McLellan faces rape, murder and other charges in the Hania’s death. The public prosecutor of the office does not respond directly to an e-mail with the question or one of its lawyers was to represent McLellan and could comment.
The treatment of evidence in a related case prompted an internal sheriff’s office probe and the departure of two researchers.
Former Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said that before Aguilar’s disappearance, DNA evidence linked McLellan a 2016 rape. Britt said a DNA match of that rape was given to the sheriff’s office, but the delegates apparently did not follow before Aguilar was killed.
The sheriff’s office announced in January that one investigator was fired and another had resigned after both were suspended due to the internal examination.
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