When 13-year-0ld middle school student Hania Aguilar was kidnapped from her front yard in Lumberton, North Carolina, her community immediately rallied to bring her home.
On November 28, law enforcement announced the tragic news that they'd found her body and were treating the case as a homicide. Now as Aguilar's friends and family prepare for her funeral, they are pleading with the U.S. and Guatemalan governments to allow the young girl's father into this country to lay his daughter to rest.
A petition circulating on Change.org is requesting an expedited visa so that Aguilar's father can attend the funeral. It currently has over 22,000 signatures.
"No parent should be denied the right to attend their child's funeral, especially when Hania was a Citizen-born in Tennessee," the petition reads in part.
Aguilar was kidnapped by a unknown man wearing all black and a yellow bandana as she was warming up her family's car so she could be driven to school. An intensive search by the FBI and North Carolina law enforcement followed, culminating in the discovery of Aguilar's body weeks later. Authorities have not elaborated on the condition of the body or the cause of death pending an autopsy. There is currently a $30,000 reward for information related to the kidnapping and murder.
In the meantime, thousands have pledged their support for government agencies to work together in expediting a visa for Aguilar's father to attend his daughter's funeral.
“Every mother or father no matter where they are from should be able to see their loved one before going into the ground. I hope my petition makes a difference. God bless,” Christina Ramos wrote on the Change.org website. Her sentiment has been echoed dozens of others.