The father of a North Carolina teen who was abducted from outside her Lumberton home on Nov. 5 and whose body was found after a three-week search has been blocked from attending her Saturday funeral. Noé Aguilar—the Guatemalan father of 13-year-old Hania Aguilar—was immediately denied a temporary visa by the State Department when he visited the US Embassy in Guatemala City on Monday. Officials called out his lack of strong ties to his native country and low bank balance, which they say raised the risk that he wouldn't return, his Texas-based lawyer, Naimeh Salem, tells the New York Times. Aguilar, who previously lived in the US but returned to Guatemala in 2005, "has never attempted to come back to the US," says Salem. "He wanted to kiss his daughter goodbye."
Salem notes Aguilar's visa request was denied despite him stating his intention to return to the Guatemalan business he owns. Still, "I'm hopeful we should be able to get it." North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has asked the US ambassador to Guatemala to "reconsider" the decision so Aguilar "can properly mourn [his] lost child in this tragic and extraordinary circumstance." Members of the public are also getting involved. "No parent should be denied the right to attend their child's funeral," reads a Change.org petition with some 55,000 signatures as of this writing. Hania's murder remains unsolved, with a $30,000 reward offered for information leading to a conviction. An autopsy is underway, per WTVD. (More on the case here.)