According to Turkish police, 33-year-old Sarai Sierra was found dead in Istanbul on Saturday. Sierra, a mother of two from Staten Island, had last been heard from on January 21, the day she was supposed to return home from her vacation in Turkey.
Police say that Sierra was found dead, and an autopsy confirmed that she had suffered a fatal blow to her head. Turkish police have detained 15 people for questioning.
Sierra had been vacationing in Turkey to pursue her hobby of photography. She was originally supposed to travel with a friend, but went alone after her friend cancelled. In addition to traveling to Turkey, Sierra had made side trips to Amsterdam, Netherlands and Germany. She had been travelling since January 7.
Sierra’s disappearance had drawn a lot of media attention in Turkey, where missing tourist cases are rare. Police in Istanbul had set up a special unit to search for her.
Her body was found near Galata Bridge, which spans Istanbul's Golden Horn waterway. When last heard from, Sierra said she was going to the bridge to take photographs. She had been in frequent contact with friends and family throughout her vacation.
One man that had been exchanging e-mails with Sierra was detained by Turkish police, but had been released on Friday after questioning. Sources say she was supposed to meet the man by Galata Bridge, but he claims the meeting never took place.
Her husband, Steven, and her brother, David Jiminez, travelled to Turkey to help search for her. Sierra also leaves behind two children, one is nine and the other is 11.