LUMBERTON, N.C. (WNCN/WBTW) – As the search for missing Lumberton teenager Hania Aguilar enters its second week, the FBI Tuesday afternoon increased the total reward to $25,000 for the location of Aguilar or the arrest of a suspect.
Earlier this week, Lumberton police asked people to contact them if they know anyone in the area who has suddenly changed their behavior.
“Think through the events of the past week, particularly the morning of Monday, Nov. 5, and consider whether you know anything that would help us,” Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill said in a press conference on Monday afternoon and in a press release from the FBI. “Is there someone you know who has suddenly changed their normal behavior? Maybe they haven’t gone to work, haven’t come home, or they aren’t answering your calls or text messages.”
McNeill also said officials have received and followed hundreds of tips, interviewed dozens of witnesses, and reviewed hours of surveillance footage in the week since the teen’s disappearance.
On Tuesday, officials made a specific plea that people stop spreading rumors about the case, which was slowing down the investigation.
“There are a lot of rumors and misinformation being shared on social media. If the information is not from the Lumberton Police Department, if it’s not from the FBI, then it’s not credible, it’s not reliable, it’s not confirmed, and it’s probably not true,” Andy de la Rocha said.
When asked about a timeline of events and possible scenarios in finding Aguilar, de la Rocha said “our approach is that she’s alive” and “we have no evidence that indicates otherwise.”
De la Rocha wouldn’t comment on what type of evidence was collected and sent for analysis. However, he did say the person seen walking in the area of where Aguilar went missing on video released last week remains unidentified.
He also said “we don’t ever set a time table on our investigations” when asked if there was a point in which the search would be called off.
Aguilar was outside her home at the Rosewood Mobile Home Park located at 3525 Elizabethtown Road in Lumberton on Nov. 5 just before 7 a.m. when she was kidnapped. The stolen SUV was found before 8 a.m. on Nov. 8 off Quincey Drive in Lumberton, according to authorities.
“We ask for anyone living between or near those two points to walk their property, check all outbuildings and storage areas, and contact our tip line at 910-272-5871 or the police department at 910-671-3845 if anything is unusual or out of place,” the FBI wrote in a press release.
Hania is a Hispanic female, 5 feet tall, weighing approximately 126 pounds. She has black hair, and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a blue shirt with flowers and blue jeans.