Report: Missing NYC woman found dead in Turkey

Istanbul police have at least 11 people under questioning

By

Published:

 

ANKARA, Turkey -- A New York City woman who went missing while vacationing alone in Istanbul was found dead on Saturday, and police were questioning 11 people in connection with the case, Turkey's state-run news agency said.

Sarai Sierra, 33, a mother of two, was last heard from Jan. 21, the day she was to fly home. Her disappearance attracted a lot of interest in Turkey, where tourists rarely disappear, and Istanbul police set up a special unit to find her.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said the body of a woman was discovered Saturday evening near the remnants of ancient city walls and that police later identified it as Sierra's.

The agency said she was found with a head wound and a blanket near her body. She was wearing jeans, a jumper and a jacket, and still had her earrings and a bracelet.

Police refused to comment.

Sierra, whose children are 9 and 11, had left for Istanbul on Jan. 7 to explore her photography hobby.

She was in regular contact with friends and relatives, and on Jan. 21 told them she would visit Galata Bridge, which spans Istanbul's Golden Horn waterway, to take photos.

Her body was found not far from the bridge and near a major road along the sea of Marmara.

Anadolu suggested Sierra may have been killed at another location and that her body may have been brought to the site to be hidden there.

At least 11 people were being questioned in Istanbul, Anadolu said, and a police official at the site told journalists that two of them were women.

It was not clear if a Turkish man Sierra had exchanged emails with during her stay in Istanbul was among those being questioned. He was detained for questioning Friday, then released. Turkish news reports said Sierra had arranged to meet the man on Galata Bridge, but he reportedly told police the meeting never took place.

Shortly after her body was discovered, a woman came forward and told police she had seen a white car parked near the city walls as she was driving there the night of Jan. 29, Anadolu reported. She said a man was trying to remove "something" from the car.

"At that moment, I noticed a woman's hand," Anadolu quoted the woman as saying.