Sheriff's Office: Deputies didn't follow lead in case linked to Hania Aguilar's death

Michael McLellan (left), is accused in the death of 13-year-old Hania Aguilar (right).

Two North Carolina sheriff’s deputies have been suspended for not following up on evidence linking a 2016 rape to a released felon now accused in the death of a teenage girl.

News outlets report the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that Maj. Anthony Thompson and Sgt. Darryl McPhatter were suspended pending an internal investigation.

District Attorney Johnson Britt said deputies didn’t follow up after DNA evidence from the 2016 rape matched 34-year-old Michael Ray McLellan. Only after McLellan’s DNA was again found, this time in a vehicle involved in Hania Aguilar’s kidnapping, did authorities connect the cases.

McLellan is accused of raping and killing Hania, who was kidnapped outside her Lumberton home on Nov. 5 and forced into an SUV. Her body and the SUV were found several miles away.