The reward for information leading to abducted Lumberton teen Hania Noelia Aguilar has increased to $30,000, officials announced Tuesday.
Hania has been missing since Nov. 5, when Lumberton police and the FBI say someone forced her into her family’s SUV outside her home and kidnapped her.
More than a week later, the FBI has raised the reward for information leading to her location or leading to the arrest of the person who abducted her.
On Monday, the FBI and Gov. Roy Cooper offered a collective reward of $20,000. Tuesday, that amount increased to $30,000.
False information is hampering the case, officials said. Late Tuesday afternoon, there was a report of a possible sighting of Hania in Charlotte, but investigators said “at this time there is no reason to believe the report is accurate.
“Someone in Charlotte called police to report they saw someone who looks like Hania,” police said in a news release.
The FBI, SBI and Lumberton Police have received hundreds of tips and are looking into them all, investigators said, but warned people not to post or spread false information online or to report false information to the tip line.
“We need these rumors stopped. It makes it harder to find Hania,” Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill said during a news conference Tuesday.
Hania’s mother issued a statement on Tuesday, handwritten in Spanish. Police provided an English translation: “I trust in God that my daughter will return. No one knows the pain I have in my heart. Despite all the criticism and speculation against me, I would never use my daughter’s name in order to take advantage of this situation.
“I thank all those people who have provided me help. Please, if you know something, call. I ask everyone not to make absurd comments. For the love of God respect my pain. I only want Hania, my princess, back. I miss her.”
Investigators combed Hania’s neighborhood on Monday along with the neighborhood where the SUV used in the kidnapping was found abandoned, about 10 miles from Aguilar’s residence in Rosewood Mobile Home Park.
Investigators asked for the public to call the tip line at 910-272-5871 or the Lumberton Police Department at 910-671-3845 if they have noticed a change in behavior in someone they know or if they have any information that could lead to the teen.
“Maybe they haven’t gone to work, haven’t come home or they aren’t answering your calls or your text messages,” said Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill at a news conference Monday afternoon.
“Any tip, we don’t care how small you think it is. No matter how small, it can make a difference.”
Hania is a Hispanic girl, 5 feet tall and weighs about 126 pounds. She has long black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen the morning of Monday Nov. 5, wearing a blue shirt with flowers and blue jeans.
FBI senior supervisory agent Andy de la Rocha said Monday that the investigation is being conducted under the assumption that Hania is alive.
“There is no evidence that indicates otherwise,” de la Rocha said.
Hania, a Lumberton Junior High School student, was waiting outside her home at 3525 Elizabethtown Road to get a ride to school from her family just before 7 a.m. when she was forced into the running SUV parked in the driveway. The car belongs to a relative.
A witness heard her scream and saw a man wearing black clothes and a yellow bandana force her into the SUV and drive away.
On Nov. 8, the FBI released surveillance footage of a man walking toward Rosewood Mobile Home Park on the morning of Nov. 5, leading up to the hour when Hania was kidnapped. The FBI continues to ask the public to help identify the man that is seen walking on Lambeth Street who then turns left onto Elizabethtown Road. He appears to be wearing light-colored shoes, a light-colored shirt and a hoodie.