LUMBERTON, N.C. (AP) – The FBI says a body has been found in an area of North Carolina where searchers have been looking for a missing teenager for three weeks.
A news release Tuesday said FBI agents and detectives of the Lumberton Police Department found the body around 4:45 p.m. near a road east of Interstate 95 and south of Lumberton.
Officials would not say immediately if the body found was that of 13-year-old Hania Aguilar, who was kidnapped Nov. 5 from a mobile home park after going outside to start a relative’s SUV to prepare to leave for the school bus stop.
The FBI said that the body recovered was removed from the scene by officials and is being taken to the state crime lab in Raleigh for identification and an autopsy. “There is no time frame for when a positive identification will be made,” said the FBI.
Aguilar’s family has been notified “out of an abundance of caution.”
Aguilar’s mother and other family members gathered at the Lumberton Police Department Tuesday night, waiting on developments in the case. Her mother, visibly distraught, was led away in an ambulance. The FBI said that the last three weeks have taken a toll on the family.
Authorities had an extensive perimeter set up and the area was blocked off. A neighbor described the area where investigators were working.
“On one side, it’s a wooded area. On the other … it’s a creek with a little house, but on the side (investigators) were on, it’s a wooded area,” said Anita Hunt. “The little girl that’s been missing, that’s all that goes through my mind since she’s been missing.”
The neighborhood has been on constant alert in the three weeks since Aguilar was kidnapped.
“She’s 13. She’s a baby,” Hunt said. “Everywhere I go, I’m looking. You can’t help it.”
“I’m hoping that it’s not her,” neighbor Annie Hall added. She said her son played with Aguilar and that she was well known and loved by many in the neighborhood.
Kids haven’t been playing outside nearly as much since Aguilar’s abduction.
“She used to be in the neighborhood, play with the kids, basketball out in the yard. All the kids would play out in the yard,” Hall said. “There was never a problem like this before.”