Katleen Ping's family holds memorial service

NEWARK, Calif.

One of Katleen Ping's little sisters carried a large picture of her into the church. Ping's 4-year-old son Kaayser walked in holding his uncle's hand.

"I sat him down Wednesday and told him what happened, but we told him, 'Do you know about heaven? Heaven is a happy place and Mommy is in heaven, so Mommy's happy,'" said Kaine Ping, Katleen's brother.

The Ping family is deeply religious, and so was this service at the Bay Area Baptist church where they are long-time members.

"I'm going to miss her very much. I'm so glad she's with the Lord, but I'm just going to miss her," said Katrina Mattingly, a fellow parishioner.

The 24-year-old Ping leaves behind her son, her parents, her brother and two young sisters -- all lived together in East Oakland. Her husband, Christian Vicuna, remains in their native Philippines and that has proven problematic. The family's anguish is amplified because they are unable to give their loved one what they consider a proper burial. Her husband has the legal right to the body.

"Her body is still in the coroner's office and we are pleading, we're asking and we're begging them, whoever the person is who could sign the paper to release her body," said Kaine.

But the spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff's Department says state law gives that right to the next of kin and J.D. Nelson from the sheriff's office said, "Just because the husband is in the Philippines, he doesn't forfeit that right."

Ping's husband had been hoping to immigrate to the Bay Area and we're told he is insisting on handling his late wife's remains.

I talked with the vice consul of the Philippines Consulate in San Francisco, who says they are working with the U.S. Embassy, hoping to expedite the paperwork so that Ping's husband can come to this country on a humanitarian basis.

Ping's brother says the family is doing everything they can to speed up the process. And while this memorial is helping with the healing process, they'll have a proper, private burial when the time comes.

Copyright © 2024 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.