ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WMBF) – Two veteran Robeson County Sheriff’s Office deputies have been suspended with pay pending the final outcome of an internal investigation, according to Sheriff Burnis Wilkins.
Wilkins confirmed that Maj. Anthony Thompson, a 34-year-veteran currently serving as major over the detention center, and Det. Darryl McPhatter, a 10-year veteran assigned to the criminal investigations unit, were suspended with pay.
While the sheriff did confirm the suspensions, he didn’t specify what the internal investigation was in reference to.
The suspensions come a week after the RCSO announced it had begun an internal affairs investigation in reference to a 2016 incident involving the suspect charged in connection with the death of 13-year-old Hania Aguilar.
Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said deputies didn’t follow up after DNA evidence linked Michael Ray McLellan to a 2016 rape.
In October 2017, the North Carolina crime lab found a ‘hit’ in the federal database connecting McLellan’s DNA to a 2016 rape kit.
Britt said since McLellan had previous convictions his DNA was already in the system. When there’s a hit, the lab notifies the DA’s office and the investigating agency, in this case the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Britt, somehow the evidence fell through the cracks. He added McLellan was arrested only after his DNA turned up inside the vehicle linked to Aguilar’s Nov. 5 kidnapping, the Associated Press previously reported.
McLellan has been charged with 10 felonies, including first-degree murder, first-degree forcible rape and first-degree kidnapping, in connection with Aguilar’s death. He is set for a second court appearance Friday in regards to these counts.