LUMBERTON, N.C. (WNCN) — Her photo has been on the news, and her family has made emotional pleas, but it’s been more than a week since anyone has seen Hania Aguilar.
The FBI and local police are working to find the 13-year-old. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said it has a team in Lumberton helping.
“We never close a child’s case until a child has been physically found,” said NCMEC Vice President Robert Lowery.
Aguilar is one of 77 missing children in North Carolina, according to NCMEC’s website.
Some of the cases are months old. Other are decades cold. As time goes on, investigators run into dead ends, Lowery said.
“The longer these cases go on, obviously, the more difficult it will be to find Hania,” Lowery said.
Private investigator David Marshburn dedicates his time to finding missing people. He said the most frustrating part of working these cases in when someone knows something, and doesn’t come forward.
“You might have to go one month, a week, a day, sometimes two or three years. When you get there, it’s satisfying, but you go back and think, ‘God, we could have had this years ago,'” Marshburn said.
Over the past six years, he and his partner Marsha have helped find several missing people, including Kelli Bordeaux in Fayetteville. The feeling, however, is always bittersweet.
“When we have to make that phone call, it’s a mixed emotion. You don’t want to make it, but you want to make it,” he said.
Marshburn started a nonprofit called the Search For Me Foundation. It helps search for missing persons.
Both Marshburn and the NCMEC said someone knows what happened to Aguilar, as well as the other 76 missing children in North Carolina. They just have to speak up.
“We’re not going to stop until her family has all the answers,” Lowery said.
The FBI increased the reward to $25,000 for information leading to Aguilar’s location or the arrest of a suspect.
Augilar was forced into an SUV and kidnapped on Nov. 5 outside of her home in Rosewood Mobile Home Park in Lumberton just before 7 a.m.
On Nov. 8, the stolen SUV was discovered off Quincey Drive in Lumberton, according to authorities. Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill said officials have followed hundreds of tips, interviewed dozens of witnesses, and watched hours of surveillance video.
“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.
Aguilar 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.