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AMERICAS > Family heading to Turkey to seek missing NY woman

NEW YORK - The Associated Press

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Relatives of a missing New York City woman who disappeared while on vacation in Turkey, her first trip outside the U.S., are heading to Istanbul to look for her, her brother said Sunday.

Sarai Sierra’s family was last in touch with her on Monday, the day she was supposed to start her journey home. The 33-year-old mother of two had been in Turkey on her own since Jan. 7.

Her brother David Jimenez told The Associated Press that he and Sierra’s husband, Steven, were planning to leave for Turkey on Sunday night. He said he had no return date planned. "I don’t want to come home without my sister," Jimenez said.

Sierra planned to head to the Galata Bridge, a well-known tourist destination that spans the Golden Horn waterway, to take some photographs, said her mother, Betzaida Jimenez. Her daughter was then supposed to begin traveling home and was scheduled to arrive in New York City on Tuesday afternoon.

Sierra’s father went to pick her up at the airport and "waited there for hours" with no sign of his daughter, Jimenez said.

Sierra had planned to go on the trip with a friend but ended up going by herself when the friend couldn’t make it. She was looking forward to exploring her hobby of photography, her family said.

"I was nervous. I didn’t want my daughter to go," Jimenez said, but the trip had passed smoothly with Sierra in regular contact with her family and friends through text messaging and phone calls.

"She would always call and let us know, ’This is what I did today,’" Jimenez said.

When she didn’t show up in New York City, her husband called the place where she had been staying, David Jimenez said. The owner of the hostel checked her room and saw that her passport, equipment chargers and other items were still there.

"It looked like she was just stepping out," he said.

The family has been in touch with authorities in their efforts to find her. No one was available to comment after hours Sunday at Istanbul police headquarters. Crime in Turkey is generally low and Istanbul is a relatively safe city for travelers, though there are areas where women would be advised to avoid going alone at night. The Galata and the nearby Galata Bridge areas have been gentrified and are home to fish restaurants, cafes and boutiques.

Sierra’s children, ages 11 and 9, do not know their mother is missing, her brother said. Betzaida Jimenez said the situation has "been a nightmare."

"I’m forcing myself to get up because I have to get up," she said. But she said the tight-knit family was holding onto their faith.

"We’re praying and trusting God that she’s safe somewhere and we’re going to find her," she said.

January/27/2013

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Red Tail

1/28/2013 3:19:29 PM

Traveling in Turkey as a single non-Turkish woman can certainly lead to unwanted attention. But lets all hope she is safe, that is the most important thing. By the way, Turkey is probably among the nicest couintries in the world if you are interested in photography. Istanbul of course, but also the scenaries in Eastern Turkey are truly fantastic.

Rudi Spermon

1/28/2013 2:22:22 PM

Istanbul is a safe city, people don't just disappear here. Yes, you probably will be hassled into buying stuff but that's about it, they don't get violent. Is there anything known about her at the hotel where she stayed, has she confirmed her flight back? Those living in Istanbul might want to share this article on Facebook as did I.

michele suzanne

1/28/2013 12:38:22 PM

I hope and trust this lady is found to be safe and well. What I find REALLY weird with this article, is the comments regarding the woman's hobby/interest in photography - why is that baffling some people? Istanbul is a fantastic place to photograph. Also, as regards her traveling alone - the article states that she had intended to holiday with a friend who then could not go.

two sides to every coin

1/28/2013 12:30:53 PM

So Murat, what your saying is, its only an American woman whats the big problem and should not be news.

Faruk Beisser

1/28/2013 9:10:38 AM

Crime is low in Turkey? Now that is really new news! Sponsored by the new Gülen/Erbakan AKP tourism minister?

Mike Taylor

1/28/2013 3:29:02 AM

I am saddened but not shocked at the comments ive seen on this story on various websites, people proposing that women have no right to travel alone, or that somehow her being a photographer is innappriate or an excuse for spying or whatever...its sad that we as a species are so jaded to injustice and compassion that some of us have nothing better to do than this, and sadly no Murat, I dont think it'd be as BIG a story, thats just how it is:(

cezer "çapulcu" skonore

1/28/2013 3:08:06 AM

If you are not an elderly Armenian woman, Istanbul will treat you just fine. By the way, be very very careful when you are crossing the street.

lara ulusoy

1/27/2013 11:28:45 PM

Murat, I think she would be... Americans are very caring people and very sentimental and very humane so I would say yes. As for the woman, I find it a teeny weeny strange that a woman travels half way across the globe to go and click some photographs and go back, but people are free to do what they like and that must have been a very strong passion within her. Very sad story, I hope they will find her.

Olfa B

1/27/2013 8:19:28 PM

This is weird. I've been twice to Istanbul as a solo traveller, and everything was more than fine. I enjoy photography too, but oh, I'm not American! ;)

mesude salihli

1/27/2013 8:06:35 PM

How would the NYPD respond to a missing woman claim?
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