Missing Staten Island Mother Sarai Sierra Found Dead In Istanbul, Police Question Suspects
February 4, 2013 5:46 AM EST
A woman from Staten Island, N.Y., who went missing in Istanbul, Turkey, has been confirmed dead.
The body of Sarai Sierra, who was reported missing late last month, was found Saturday night.
Though initial reports had it that Sierra was stabbed in the abdomen, according to Istanbul Police Chief Huseyin Capkin, the 33-year-old mother of two died of an apparent head injury. CBS News is reporting that 15 potential suspects have been taken into police custody for questioning, while the New York Post says 11 people are in custody -- two of them women.
Sierra's body was found by local residents near the Galata Bridge in Sarayburnu, not far from a major road. Police were able to identify her by the driver's license found on her body.
The motive for her murder is still unclear.
Sierra traveled to Turkey, where she planned to practice her photography hobby, on Jan. 7. Many of the photos taken on her trip, which included excursions to Amsterdam and Munich, were posted on her Instagram account, memyself_sarai.
According to the New York Times, Sierra was first reported missing after she did not arrive at Newark Airport in New Jersey on the day she was scheduled to come home. Fearing the worst, her husband, Steven Sierra, and brother, David Jimenez, both flew to Istanbul in an attempt to uncover what happen to her.
Turkish authorities determined that the woman had corresponded with a mysterious man known only as Taylan prior to her death. Sierra was scheduled to meet the man near the Galata Tower.
Taylan has publicly claimed that the two met online and shared a love of photography but denies having any form of intimate relationship with the victim.
He told the Turkish news outlet Vatan that the two crossed paths on her trip but that she failed to meet him at the Galata Tower as planned.
Sierra was supposed to embark on the trip with her friend Maggie Rodriguez, but the friend was forced to back out for financial reasons.
In addition to her husband, Sierra leaves behind two sons, ages 9 and 11.
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