Family and friends of the Ashtabula mother who went missing in July and was later found dead are doing everything they can to get her a proper burial. Her family lives across the world, and her friends in Northeast Ohio are trying to help them say goodbye.
Rand Al Dulaimi moved to Ashtabula from Turkey after she got married — she has no family in the United States.
Her older sister Rula Al Dulaimi, who is an Iraqi refugee living in Turkey, has been trying desperately to secure an emergency visa to come to Ashtabula to bury her sister and take care of her 2-year-old nephew Omar, who is currently in the custody of children's services.
“I need to come, to see him and to take care of him because he doesn’t have anyone from his family with him,” Al Dulaimi said during an interview over video chat. “Because, you know, we lose Rand. We don’t want to lose Omar.”
Kat Loveland, Rand Al Dulaimi’s friend, has become the Al Dulaimi family’s best hope in Ashtabula. She has been acting as the family’s liaison and working to contact every elected official in Ohio for help.
“She just wants to come here, say goodbye to her sister, that’s all. That’s all she wants,” Loveland said.
Loveland started a change.org petition Sunday evening to bring more attention the case. Within hours, it received more than 500 signatures. By Monday evening, more than 1,000 people had signed it.
Congressman David Joyce’s office told News 5 that it sent a letter on Rula Al Dulaimi’s behalf on July 27 after being contacted by an Ashtabula County Commissioner asking that her embassy meeting be expedited. That request for a 214b visa was denied. However, Al Dulaimi can apply for a humanitarian parolee visa. She is currently working with a Cleveland immigration attorney.
The case is now in the State Department’s hands, which said it could not discuss any specific cases to maintain confidentiality.
Al Dulaimi said she does not want to stay in America long, she just wants to say goodbye.
“I just want to see my sister one last time. I want to bury her,” Al Dulaimi said tearfully.
Rand Al Dulaimi’s ex-husband Jeffrey Stanley, who was named as a person of interest in her disappearance, is currently in jail on a parole violation. He has not been charged in connection with Al Dulaimi's death. Ashtabula County Sheriff Bill Johnson said authorities are waiting for the results the coroner’s report and DNA evidence before moving forward.
Al Dulaimi was last seen on July 9. Her body was discovered in Saybrook Township on July 24.