Barway Collins' birth mother, who secured a temporary visa to attend his funeral, arrived to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from Liberia around 1:30 p.m. today. Louise Karluah was greeted by a mob-like scene of supporters and media members for her first-ever visit to the United States. She did not say anything publicly at the airport.
"She's doing good. A little culture shock when met by individuals of authority," said David Singleton, who is acting as her security detail.
From the airport, she was brought to Estes Funeral Home in Minneapolis to work out the logistics for her son's funeral. Liberian community leaders and supporters were on-hand all day to ensure enough funds came in for the funeral to ensue. Karluah didn't see her son's body on Wednesday, but arrangements have been made so she can say goodbye in the coming days.
"We decided to withhold the funeral and burial services until the mother of Barway is here in the United States," Pastor Harding Smith announced at a Friday afternoon news conference. The funeral will now be held this Saturday so she can attend.
According to Smith, a birth certificate mix-up is one reason that negotiations to delay the funeral took so long, apparently Karluah was not listed on Barway's birth certificate, which instead listed his aunt.
Barway, 10, was last seen alive in Crystal on March 18 getting off a school bus. His body was later found in the Mississippi River on April 11. Barway's father, Pierre Collins, is being charged with murder and is not allowed to attend the funeral.
"I am not aware of any legal right to see his son prior to burial," Hennepin County Judge Tanya Bransford said. "I'm denying it because of the risk to public safety."
The boy's funeral will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 2 at Shiloh Temple in Minneapolis. The public is invited to attend the memorial service.