Family of murdered Mom pray for sister’s visa to come through in time for funeral

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The parents of 35-year-old Ellie Tran is praying for the Vietnamese embassy to allow their oldest daughter to come to America in time for Ellie's funeral.

Ellie left behind her 2-year-old daughter and her elderly parents, Oanh Ly and Thuan Tran. Since Ellie was the breadwinner of the family, Oanh and Thuan are struggling without her.

On Valentine's Day, Ellie was assaulted by her estranged husband, Joseph Merlino III. She later died at the hospital and Merlino was charged with second-degree murder.

In a FaceTime call with her Mom, 40-year-old Hoang-Phi Tran said, "I hope and want to come to America as early as possible to help you, Mom and Dad." Hoang-Phi is Ellie's oldest sister and has an interview with the Vietnamese embassy Wednesday for her visitor's visa.

Oanh told News 3's Kim Cung in Vietnamese, Ellie and Hoang-Phi were very close.

"The two of them love each other so much, so much. When Ellie’s eldest sister heard about what happened, she couldn’t stop crying," said Oanh.

Ellie's funeral is Thursday at Family Choice Funerals and Cremations with a prayer service at Dong Hung Buddhist Temple in Virginia Beach afterward.

"If she can get here early, she can attend the funeral and I think that'll help bring her closure," said Oanh.

Jolie, Ellie's 2-year-old daughter is too young to understand what happened. Oanh said when the door opens, Jolie runs toward it yelling "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy" thinking her Mom is coming home.

"It breaks my heart. She's just a toddler and she lost her Mom. It's horrible. You can grow up without a grandmother's love, that's fine, but a Mother's love is crucial," said Oanh.

The Trans just found out before her death, Ellie started paperwork to sponsor two of her siblings to come to America. A process that could take more than a decade.

"I hope the embassy is compassionate and let her come here early to help us during these hard days ahead, because we are old," said Oanh.

While hoping for the future, Oanh and her husband Thuan are more than grateful for what's happening in the present. They are surrounded by friends, some family and an outpouring of generosity since Ellie's death.

"I was so moved. My heart felt full seeing the temple and monks set up a prayer service for Ellie. I was happy to see that," said Oanh.

There is a GoFundMe page set up to help Oanh and Thuan take care of their 2-year-old granddaughter.