Sarai Sierra, American Tourist, Killed by Blow to Head, Turkish Police Say
A New York City woman vacationing alone in Istanbul was killed by at least one fatal blow to her head, Turkish officials said today.
The body of Sarai Sierra, 33, was was identified by her husband, Steven Sierra, in a morgue, Istanbul police chief Huseyin Capkin said today.
After an intense search that lasted nearly two weeks, the body of Sarai Sierra was found near the ruins of some ancient city walls and a highway on Saturday. Sierra was wearing the ame outfit she was seen wearing on surveillance footage taken at a food court and on a street the day she vanished, Capkin said. A blanket was found nearby.
It did not appear she had been raped or was involved in any espionage or trafficking, Capkin said.
At least nine people have been held for questioning, including two women, as investigators try to unravel what happened to the mother of two.
Turkish police are reportedly speaking to a local man who was supposed to meet Sierra the day she went missing, but he said she never showed, local media reported.
Sierra's disappearance nearly two weeks ago sparked a massive search by Turkish authorities. Missing person cases are rare in the country.
Sierra, who had traveled to Istanbul on Jan. 7 to practice her photography hobby, was last heard from on Jan. 21, the day she was due to board a flight home to New York City.
Further investigation revealed she had left her passport, clothes, phone chargers and medical cards in her room at a hostel in Beyoglu, Turkey.
Her husband, Steven Sierra, and brother, David Jimenez, traveled to Istanbul last Sunday to meet with American and Turkish officials and push the search forward.
"It was her first time outside of the United States, and every day while she was there she pretty much kept in contact with us, letting us know what she was up to, where she was going, whether it be through texting or whether it be through video chat, she was touching base with us," Steven Sierra told ABC News last week.
The U.S. State Department said today it is in contact with Sierra's family and is providing consular assistance.
"Out of respect for the family's privacy, we have no further comment," the State Department said in a statement. "We thank the Turkish government for all their efforts to locate Mrs. Sierra and we will remain in close contact with them as they continue their investigation."
I'm curious about something. In 2007 there was a young gay man (Aeryn Gillern) who went missing in Vienna, Austria and there was no peep about it in the media. Not even from the gov't. His mother has worked tirelessly to get more info. on what happened to him but all to no avail. Discovery Investigation did air a special on his disappearance.
Why is this woman's disappearance and eventual death gripping the nation whereas Gillern's possible homicide is entirely ignored by Bush's State Dept. back in 2007?
Why would a married mother of two young sons take a solo vacation to Turkey? Is that something that people do these days?
I have a friend who travels solo. She enjoys it as it frees her from obligations to her fellow traveler. Turkey is very safe for tourist. One homicide out of millions of travelers does not make it dangerous.
She's an idiot and should have stayed on Staten Island where she belonged. You don't need to travel to godforsaken Turkey to take photos with your brand new Nikon. Maybe the fool didn't realize there's something called Central Park in NYC where, as far as I know, Muslims won't murder you. Darwinian theory on display once again.
She was supposed to be travelling with a friend, but the friend cancelled at the last minute.
I understand traveling solo but do moms of young kids do that? I understand if she wanted to get away from the husband and kids but shouldn't that be for an afternoon or maybe even a weekend instead of a week in Europe? It doesn't make sense to me.
So, is Turkey more safe than Western Europe generally? If she has never left the country, then why pick Turkey as her first trip?
My guess is this good christian mom was giving $3 blowjobs in Turkey and got brained when she used her teeth one too many times.
And she was due to meet a "local man" for some unspecified reason. We need to know more about that.
For some reason I keep seeing a large turkey being pushed off a roof and falling on her head. LOL
Actually the conspiracy theorist in me thinks she was a spy. This was Turkeys way of shaming our CIA.
[quote]She's an idiot and should have stayed on Staten Island where she belonged. You don't need to travel to godforsaken Turkey to take photos with your brand new Nikon. Maybe the fool didn't realize there's something called Central Park in NYC where, as far as I know, Muslims won't murder you. Darwinian theory on display once again.
Why does DL permit flyover trash on here?
A 33 year old stayed in a hostel?
R13, I too am getting suspicious. THe US State Department clearly states Al Queda in the area etc.. so this mom was wandering ALONE in Turkey and never travelled elsewhere and just HAS TO GO TO FRIGGIN TURKEY?
Tin Hatter. This lady was CIA
Now, now, clearly there is nothing weird, she went there "to practice her photography hobby".
TV reports say children in her kids school were told not to say anything. The father will tell them when he returns from Turkey. You know someone will slip or the kids will learn it from television.
r18 here. Forget to mention - the kids are nine and eleven.
Many yuppie types must now travel to 'exotic' places to one-up their fellow yuppies. They are almost always naive about the danger and have a "We are the World" mentality.
So many women get raped and/or attacked in the Peace Corps and the ones who survive are too embarrassed to admit they have been assaulted.
Women need to understand that they are viewed as whores by most of the world. No one cares that you are there to help them, or give aid. You are nothing but an available vagina to them.
Yes, Turkey is more progressive but it is still a Muslim country.
Some silly posters on here. Turkey has been a huge tourist destination for years, primarily for middle-aged women who travel in groups though. Usually very safe, although 2 Irish women did get stabbed to death a few years ago by the Turkish bf of one of their daughters.
It all seems very strange. I've been to Turkey and felt safer than in some cities in the U.S., but a mother of young kids going there alone to pursue her camera hobby just doesn't sound right. When a travel companion cancelled, wouldn't most normal people either cancel until there was someone else to go along. On someone's first overseas trip to a land where you don't even speak the language, I can see it for some serious business purpose where you had meetings set up -- but as a tourist with a hobby, something seems off.
I've traveled all around the world, sometimes alone, some for business and some for pleasure, but I'm male and don't have young kids at home.
Things I'd like to know:
What was she doing in Amsterdam and Munich?
Why, in Istanbul, did she eat lunch in a mall?
How does her husband know her passwords to social-media sites?
Who took care of the kids while their father was at work?
The friend who backed-out on the trip will never forgive herself.
What does her having kids have to do with whether or not she travels alone? Also, nearly everyone in Turkey speaks English as well.
Shirley Valentine must look like a horror movie for some of the precious sunflowers on here.
r15, 70-year-olds stay at hostels in New York to save money.
[quote]What does her having kids have to do with whether or not she travels alone?
Mothers of young children don't often go off for two weeks to pursue a hobby in a foreign country, alone or with a friend. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's not a common practice.
R3 - Sadly, you answer your own question.
The young man missing in Austria was a man.
The woman missing the last two weeks in Turkey is female. And, of course, white or at least Latin or European in origin (i.e. not black). So, yes. The media is going to cover it with the tenacity of a rabid bulldog.
Expect to see Diane Sawyer making her 'Person of the Week' and leading a virtual candlelight vigil during an ABC World News broadcast.
As for any men going missing, the U.S. media really doesn't give a shit.
I have a relative that never goes anywhere except to her job because of her pets. She would never leave them in the care of anyone else, and it's just a dog and cat.
This woman was married so it's a little different and two weeks is not that long. But it's still unusual to do especially since it was just her photography hobby--perhaps she had dreams of making it big in that field.
RIP camera chick
This always happens to white people. My African American Muslim Aunt has been traveling all over the middle East alone (she's widowed & her kids are grown) for the last 30 years and has never even had anyone look at her cross eyed.
Something's fishy with this story.
R28 is right about that.
I think it's assumed that they have committed suicide if they are missing.
Suspicious story. We're never going to read the truth of it - lots of loose ends.
whether we like it or not, young or youthful white women are more sexualized and admired than other women. They get more attention, whether it's hostility or respect. That's just the way it is throughout the world. Maybe not where we live, but in the world this is fact.
No one wants anything from your middle-aged muslim auntie.
[quote]The young man missing in Austria was a man... The woman missing the last two weeks in Turkey is female. And, of course, white or at least Latin or European in origin (i.e. not black).
The media also looks at missing men stories. DL has another thread about three missing men.
She didn't go to Amsterdam did she? I mean this is getting too strange. And the husband keeps sying "Yes, I knew what her plans were, we talked every single day!"
Maybe she was some kind of courier for drugs or smething and her huband was part of it.
She's Latino but she could pass for Turkish or Middle Eastern. Nayve she was mistaken for a Muslim woman and was doing something they thought was disrepsectful so some religious nut killed her.
If she was latino you can bet she was up to no good
It looks like robbery to me
[quote]She's Latino but she could pass for Turkish or Middle Eastern. Nayve she was mistaken for a Muslim woman and was doing something they thought was disrepsectful so some religious nut killed her.
I'd wondered about this, as well. But the robbery gone wrong angle makes sense. I read that she has a photography blog on Tumblr and is in contact with other amateurs. She had made at least one contact in Turkey so this person could show her good locations to photograph. I believe this was the fatal mistake. This I would never do sight unseen, with a stranger in an impoverished country or a Muslim country. She was probably perceived as a rich American and an easy target carrying expensive photographic equipment and cash.
[quote]It looks like robbery to me
Nothing was taken
It could still be a robbery gone wrong. The assailant(s) might have panicked and taken off without the loot
Good thinking R39 - there are always stories in the Daily Mail about these middle-aged English women who kept boys in places like Turkey or Tunisia, and then later discovered these same boys had dozens of English girlfriends who would fly down on the cheap and shower them with gifts and cash.
With the internet, contact between naive Westerners (who think themselves so sophisticated) and crooks in 3rd World countries (incl. Nigeria) has increased and perhaps this woman fell prey to such a long-distance, low-cost fatal scam.
Very odd. If the husband could travel to ID the body, why did he not just accompany his wife, a lone female traveller, to TURKEY, of all places?
I wonder if the Names troll from datalounge has an alibi. I always knew it would come to this.
Also, the object of her hobby was supposedly graffiti.
Turkey? Really? L.A. wasn't good enough?
[quote] the object of her hobby was supposedly graffiti.
Most of the photos showed on TV were of buildings in early morning and late afternoon light. They were on Instagram, which I think has enhancing capabilities.
R46 - Werner Herzog did a documentary which took place at the South Pole, if I recall correctly - it's on Netflix, and while I don't recall the title, I recall a scientist he meets there, she's quite the oddball - most of them seem to be odd, but she goes on about how she ate sushi in Tokyo and surfed off the coast of Chile and had steak tartare in Moscow or whatever she seemed to fancy on a moment's notice, as long as it rhymed or sounded like something V.S. Naipaul would do if he had unlimited funds - anyway, the point I'm making is this:
Why go to Turkey to photograph graffiti? Believe it or not, if someone thinks it will grab headlines on Huffington Post, they are THERE yesterday.
Not saying that was this chick, but is plausible way to explain the inexplicable.
Was her name Sydney Bristow?
No, but the title is Encounters At The End of the World, from 2007. I recall that Herzog finds her prattle sad and empty, which I thought was rude considering he didn't have to pay her for material.
I still chuckle when I think that Herzog couldn't tell John Waters is gay.
"Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone."
-- The Dhammapada
Agree with everyone else that this story makes no sense. Why would a woman choose Turkey of all places to go if she's never traveled to another country? All alone. For no good reason--pursuing a self indulgent hobby. Leaving young children at home. It's all just very foolish and naive.
I agree with R42 that the ruse to visit Turkey for the purpose of taking photos was a cover up. I think she was "catfished" on line by some seductive Turk and was probably groomed over several months. He convinced her he was in love with her so she agreed to go to Turkey to meet him. She told the husband she was going with a friend, but that was never part of the plan. She invented the friend (and the last minute cancelation) so the husband would allow her to go. Her plan all along was to meet her "lover" alone. When she go there, the Turk killed her and took all her money. In fact, she probably wiped out the family bank account and handed it over.
It will all come out in the next few weeks after they do some forensics on her computer.
So, who will play her in the movie? I would say Lena Dunham. She's a frump frau who has the vulnerable look of someone who would fall for a slick scam.
I, too, suspect the husband is somehow involved. According to polic, nine times outta ten, when wifey is murdered, hubby done did it or hired someone to do it. With worldwide internet access, the mister does not even have to be on the same continent. NEVER underestimate the lengths to which an unhappy man will go to remove his troublesome spouse. I await the evidence. Great crime if it's so.
You're on the wrong track, R54. The husband didn't do anything weird. But ALL of her actions are suspicious.
Is there a Lifetime Network for men you could write for, R53?
[quote]In fact, she probably wiped out the family bank account and handed it over.
There was a mention that friends were taking up a collection to bring the body back. If they were so short on funds, why would she be going to Turkey for a hobby? There's something dirty going on.
Didn't her murder happen the same weekend that the American Embassy in Turkey was bombed.
So apparently, the cost of her trip - when you include side trips to Munich and Amsterdam - have been estimated at $10,000.
But meanwhile, they don't have money to fund sending her body back to the US.
Really, REALLY doesn't make sense.
A woman? Travelling without a chaperone? In a place full of Muhammedians?! Fetch my smelling salts!
You're assuming they don't have the funds. Her husband and brother went to Turkey to identify the body. It's not likely that they made a stop at the bank and made the arrangements before they left. It's not unusual for friends and relatives to take up collections when someone has been the victim of a violent crime regardless of their financial ability. Sometimes it's the only way they can support the family and feel useful.
The wild assumptions on this thread are, well, wild assumptions.
I think r53 nailed it: the reason they are taking up collections is because she drained the savings accounts. Of course if she was abandoning her family, why would she have still been skyping and texting with them.
[quote] Why, in Istanbul, did she eat lunch in a mall?
She's American, DUH.
Drug mule. Her husband has been interviewed on the local news and seems like a thug.
Her friend either got cold feet and pulled out of the plan or was clueless and unwittingly canceled.
Que Sarai Sarai.
I google imaged the hub and he is very thug looking.
[quote]The friend who backed-out on the trip will never forgive herself.
Bet she was fucking the husband.
This looks like a job for Jessica Fletcher (on a book tour in Istanbul)!
Tonight's episode: "Turkish Delight & Destruction."
Special guest stars: Omar Sharif as "Ali Karim Bey," Nana Mouskouri as "Fatima," Michael York as "Lord Upsworth," and JoAnn Worley as "Tourist Lady from Kansas City #1."
Don't forget me! I'm Jessica's close friend that she hasn't seen since childhood, who is meeting her in Istanbul.
She had a date in Constantinople, but he was waiting in Istanbul.
[quote]FBI agents probing the murder of a Staten Island mom in Turkey said they don’t believe she was there just to take pictures — and said she hung out with a “criminal element” during the solo trip abroad.
[quote]The FBI is in Turkey investigating the case, and is looking into a possible connection to drug trafficking
[quote] Her husband, Steven Sierra, and brother, David Jimenez, traveled to Istanbul last Sunday to meet with American and Turkish officials and push the search forward.
I'm sure the investigation was pushed forward as soon as they got a look at these two.
[quote]Sierra’s family has said she went alone on her first trip abroad after a friend bailed out at the last minute.
[quote]The friend, Maggie Rodriguez, told The Post that Sierra began planning the trip “a few months ago” and that she alerted Sierra early on that she couldn’t afford to go with her.
Oh, good lord.
Thanks for the link r71.
And what's up with the hats?
[quote]The friend, Maggie Rodriguez, told The Post that Sierra began planning the trip “a few months ago” and that she alerted Sierra early on that she couldn’t afford to go with her.
But the previously unemployed Sierra, who declared bankruptcy in 2005, forged ahead.
“Sarai always wanted to go overseas — this time it managed to present itself in a way that she was able to go,” Rodriguez said.
Two churches raised the money for Sierra’s cash-strapped husband, who works as a city bus driver, and brother to travel to Istanbul.
The family yesterday was selling Sarai’s Instagram photos online to raise funds to ship her body home and pay for her funeral. Her husband and brother are slated to return to Staten Island with her body this week.
Sierra told friends she planned to stay overseas for three full weeks, but after 12 days, posted online that she “sadly” had to cut the trip short.
Yeah, how could she afford a three week trip to Turkey? That had to cost $10k or more. The answer is on her computer. Who was she in contact with in Turkey before she left home? Someone obviously paid for her trip.
A poster on the new thread said she could have been setting up a heroin trafficking business.
[quote]Sierra’s friends and family said the young mom — an amateur photographer who shot her pictures with an iPad and Droid phone — went abroad to take pictures.
Total bullshit!!!! You don't spend thousands on a photo trip without decent camera equipment.
[quote] "“Sarai always wanted to go overseas — this time it managed to present itself in a way that she was able to go,” Rodriguez said.
I'm betting the FBI are asking for details as to how the opportunity "managed to present itself" for her to go from NY to Istanbul to Amsterdam, Munich and back to Istanbul, then home to NY --all to take instagram photos with your ipad.
That's a pricey itinerary for a bankrupt, previously unemployed amateur photographer busdriver's wife who didn't have a camera.
Shouldn't Interpol have some kind of computer that tracks people whose passports get stamped for a known drug courier route? She should have been questioned in Munich about her itinerary. NY, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Munich. A known drug route.
Bet her husband is shitting a brick right now. The FBI is going to ask who paid for her ticket. The husband will be afraid of the person who did supply the ticket. The person/people who supplied the ticket will be seething about this stupid bitch who got herself killed.
Maybe one of the packets she swallowed ruptured and she died of a drug overdose and her supplier crushed her skull to make it look like a murder and hid her body hoping it would decompose so they couldn't get a blood level or explore her gastrointestinal tract in an autopsy.
Lots of new information. I didn't know this was her first trip abroad. And she went alone? Jesus.
Why did Sarai Sierra get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks.
Women are the preferred gender for drug smuggling. The poorer, the better.
Interesting theory, R82.
Geez, you mean you really need a suburban mom from Staten Island to travel to Turkey to be a drug mule? Aren't their plenty of Russian hookers for that job? It just seems like a very poor use of resources.
I'm looking forward to the wacky final five minutes, when Jessica Fletcher explains the wrap-up and then tries out bellydancing in the hookah cafe, and the final frame freezes on face her laughing.
Yeah, well now some Turkish guy is claiming he had consensual sex with her the day before she was killed. He claims he met her on the internet four months ago, and they were supposed to meet for the last time, by some bridge the day she went home.
No way to know if he is telling the truth. They found him thru tracking her email. I bet he killed her and I don't think the sex was consensual. I also believe there was some connection with drugs. I said so earlier.
Think about this. She was partially clothed when they discovered her. Her head was bashed in, not once, but she was bludgeoned several times,to the point she was unrecognizeable. Who ever killed her was angry and desperate to stop her from getting away, getting help.
So it looks like she could have been raped then tried to run away. The FBI is saying she put up a fight.
It's also possible she got catfished. What ever happened something went wrong, she was in over her head, tried to resist or get away, and she was murdered.
The early reports didn't specify the extremity of the violence. I read that she was stabbed twice and hit on the back of the head. No evidence of rape. Then again we don't know if they looked hard enough.
R6, you're a fucking idiot, You know that, right?
R6 is as an idiot, but he's right about one thing -- she should have stayed in Staten Island.
Loved R20's rant about "yuppies" traveling to "exotic locations." She lived on Staten Island. Yuppies don't live on Staten Island.
This lady must have been involved in something pretty shady. The key that will unlock the mystery is finding out who financed her trip. That shouldn't be too hard to find out.
"NY, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Munich"
Everybody talk about mmm pop music.
R95 and R96 are why I will never leave Datalounge. NEVER!
Will her husband be arrested as soon as he returns to the states?
I read recently about another AMerican woman who had a Turkish boyfriend and was living in Turkey and he was abusive to her and beat her regularly. She had been raped too. She told herparents she couldn't leave hm. They tried to help her but she was in her 30's and kept going back for more beatings. She woulc claim he apologized, then it would start all over again. Eventually she committed suicide. They said. I was struck by the similarities.
R99, I'm struck by the fact that the only similarity in your story is the women are American. Yes, the men are Turkish, but one is a husband and one is a boyfriend.
This story is going to disappear. The media put up such a fuss about the "missing mom" and it turns out she was a missing mule. The media is going to back away from this nice and slow.
Was she a mule? I am really curious as it looks weird but all the news stuff now is that cop killer. What do you hear?
Turkey is going to dog this story until they show she brought it on herself and that it was not a random attack on a Western tourist.
Any more news about this?
Safe to say that women should not travel to Muslim countries alone. It's not safe. It's no secret that Islam is anti-female.
And please don't start the shit that Christianity sucks too. We know that already. But Islam is Christianity on steroids.
R103, yes this story is going to be spun so that Turkey's tourism is not tarnished. This woman will be made out to be Satin, so they can say she deserved it.
Nothing new here.
I think women can visit Turkey alone. This woman was a drug mule.
[quote]This woman will be made out to be Satin,
Are you sure? I was thinking they might go for leather or lace.
Apparently, it was a rather large ugly stick.
Actually, no she wasn't a drug mule, and she wasn't having sex with strange men in toilets.
It is obvious the Turkish police wanted to spin this to distract from their culpability. So they put thedead woman on trial.
She was living on the cheap in a really bad neighborhood at a hostel.Dumb. But she's from NYC, so maybe she figured she'd be OK. Now it comes out she was attacked by a homeless man, so all the dramatic narrative is blown. She was killed in a random street crime by some mentally nuts homelss guy.Turkish authorities look bad and so does Istanbul.
Yes R107. I guess you believe everything you read. Even if she was so what? That does not make it safe for women to travel alone to Turkey, and add Egypt, and neighboring countries to that list.
I don't recommend gays or women alone travel to Turkey, but feel free...
I hate to inform you, but Turkey's a pretty Western country and you're making yourselves sound like ignorant 'Murkins.
And I live in Kentucky, so y'all can judge for youreffs how bad ya look.
[quote]I don't recommend gays or women alone travel to Turkey, but feel free...
"I don't recommend gays or women alone travel to Turkey, but feel free...
Well I disagree.
But, as anywhere else in the world, use your common sense to be safe.
Still, her itinerary was odd as were her reasons for going
So now they're looking for a newspaper delivery guy who was spotted around the crime scene covered in mud. He reportedly left the city abruptly after the crime.
[quote]Still, her itinerary was odd as were her reasons for going
I agree. The whole story about her trip and itinerary still doesn't seem real.
R112, right because we should live our lives being fearful and terrorized by even the potential of bad things happening.
Never mind the Pyramids. Never mind the Blue Mosque. Never mind Dubai's sparkling new skyline.
Sheez. Such cowardice.
No woman alone on her initial trip to Europe would hit Turkey, Amsterdam, and Munich, and SKIP Paris, London, and Rome.
Not even, or especially, if she were there innocently, to "take photographs."
Indeed, it's the Munich connection I don't get. So you take a photo of the main "platz," and then what? (And I've been, several times.)
Something is missing from this story.