Sunday, February 3, 2013

Missing mom from Staten Island found dead in Turkey: Report

Sarai Sierra, a 33-year-old mother of two, went missing in Turkey during a vacation last month. Her body was discovered near some ancient walls in Instanbul. She was stabbed to death, according to local news agencies.

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Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013, 1:29 AM

























 Sierra  last contacted her family on Jan.  21, the day she was to fly from Istanbul to New York.

uncredited/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sierra last contacted her family on Jan. 21, the day she was to fly from Istanbul to New York.

A Staten Island mom who made plans to meet with a mystery man during a solo vacation to Turkey was found murdered Saturday in a hardscrabble section of Istanbul.
The body of Sarai Sierra, 33, was discovered by local residents near a stretch of ancient walls in the Turkish city, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The mother of two suffered a fatal head wound, and was spotted with a blanket lying nearby — suggesting she was perhaps killed elsewhere and transported there, according to local media reports, which said she had been stabbed in the abdomen.
The battered victim was identified by her driver’s license, a local private television station reported.
Eleven people — two women and nine men — were in custody after the stunning death that left her two young sons without a mother.
MISSING3N_8

AP

Police search for Sarai Sierra near the remnants of some ancient city walls in the district of Sarayburnu in Istanbul, Turkey. 

“We can’t even put the pieces together right now,” Sierra’s longtime friend Maggie Rodriguez told the Staten Island Advance. “There aren’t words at this time.”
RELATED: SARAI SIERRA, STATEN ISLAND MOM MISSING IN TURKEY, WAS TO MEET MAN SHE KNEW ONLINE DAY SHE VANISHED: REPORTS
Rodriguez was supposed to join Sierra on the trip but backed out at the last minute for financial reasons. “If I went with her, maybe this wouldn’t have happened,” Rodriguez said. “Maybe we would have went to a different spot that day. Maybe we’d be sitting in a cafe, just chit-chatting with each other.”
A family friend told the Daily News Sierra’s parents are devastated — and her boys, ages 9 and 11 — remain in the dark.
“They have no idea,” said Marjorie Ryan. “Nobody knows yet what the situation was. Was it theft? Was it assault? No one knows.”
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CNN

Shown is a screengrab from CNN of a family photo of Staten Island mom, Sarai Sierra, 33, who was discovered stabbed to death in Istanbul, Turkey Saturday February 2, 2013. Turkish police have rounded up at least 9 individuals for questioning surrounding her death.

Sierra, who worked part-time at a chiropractor’s office and was studying for a bachelor’s degree at the College of Staten Island, arrived in Istanbul Jan. 7. Her family says she was last heard from in a text to her sister Jan. 20, the day before her scheduled flight back to New York.
A witness told police she had seen a white car on Tuesday night, parked where Sierra’s body was found, Anadolu reported. A man was trying to remove something from the car, the witness said, and she “noticed a woman’s hand.”
No one answered the door Saturday evening at the family’s Staten Island home. Sierra’s husband, Steven, 40, and her brother David Jiminez traveled to Istanbul last week to help hunt for Sierra.
RELATED: SARAI SIERRA’S ONLINE MESSENGER DETAINED, RELEASED BY TURKISH COPS
Steven Sierra sobbed in a phone call with CNN on Saturday as he waited to identify his wife’s body in Istanbul. The slain woman had kept in regular contact with her friends and family back home, video chatting with her husband and parents and posting photos on Instagram.
article_sierra_0202

Handout

Sarai Sierra, a New York mother of two, went missing in Turkey while on her first solo trip abroad.

"We talked by Skype every day," he said. "Every day she would tell me, 'Dad, don't forget to pick me up at the airport.' "
"She's a closely devoted mother and wife and daughter," Mr. Jimenez added. "I'm devastated."
Sierra’s body, clothed and still wearing earrings and a bracelet, was found a short distance from the Galata Bridge — where she had planned to meet with a man known as Taylan.
Sierra emailed the man at 11:33 a.m. on Jan. 21, saying, “I’m leaving, call me if you want to reach me,” according to the Turkish paper Vatan. Taylan replied at 12:45 p.m.: “I’ll come there, hope you have wireless.”
The two had exchanged emails after Sierra arrived in Turkey, and family members said she had planned to meet with friends that she knew only through the Internet.
Taylan told police the pair bonded online over a shared love of photography and met face-to-face for the first time Jan. 13. We “talked about each other’s lives, wandered around and then left separately,” Taylan told cops, according to Vatan. Taylan claims that Sierra didn’t show up on Jan. 21.
She was never heard from again.
kwills@nydailynews.com, lmcshane@nydailynews.com amd rschapiro@nydailynews.com
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