LOCAL > Sarai Sierra killed with blow to the head, official says

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

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Sarai Sierra, a 33-year-old mother of two, was last heard from on Jan 21, the day before she was due to board a flight back home. AP Photo/Family Photo

Sarai Sierra, a 33-year-old mother of two, was last heard from on Jan 21, the day before she was due to board a flight back home. AP Photo/Family Photo

Erdem Güneş Erdem Güneş erdem.gunes@hdn.com.tr

Sarai Sierra, an American woman who went missing in Istanbul in Jan. 21, was killed with a single blow to the head, the Istanbul Public Security Branch Office confirmed earlier today.

The woman was found dead with a broken skull on Feb. 2 in Istanbul's Sarayburnu neighborhood, but there were no other injuries on her body, Deputy Manager Yener Ülgütol said Feb. 2 in an interview with the Hürriyet Daily News.

No one has yet been detained, but 22 people including two women were appealed to for testimonies, Ülgütol said, refuting earlier reports that at least nine men had been detained.

Body of missing US woman found in Istanbul

Sierra’s jewelry, a golden ring, a golden wristband and a necklace were found on her body, but her tablet computer and smart phone are missing.

Police are now waiting for Google’s mailing service, Gmail, to share  information about who Sierra last contacted. Ülgütol said the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) would share the data when Google provides the information.

Sierra’s body was sent to Istanbul forensic medical teams for an autopsy on the evening of Feb. 2. Ülgütol said there were no signs of sexual assault but added that officials would await the autopsy results for further clarification.

A blanket was found near the body, a possible sign that she was murdered in a different location and taken to the area where she was found, he said but added that the blanket may not be contacted with the killing.

Police are also considering the possibility that the murder could have been committed soon after Sierra went missing on Jan. 21, and that the body may not have decayed due to the seasonal cold weather, Ülgütol also said.

The official also denied claims that Sierra was a “drug courier,” as there was not a single piece of evidence suggesting such a conclusion. According to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) records, Sierra had no criminal record.

Reports claiming that Sierra had spent nearly $15,000 during her trip also did not reflect the truth, Ülgütol added, stressing that she had spent “reasonably” for a tourist.

Steven Sierra, her husband, sent her $350 and $150, Ülgütol said, adding there was no evidence of any large money transitions.

The reason for Sierra’s short visits to the German city of Munich and the Dutch capital Amsterdam are also being investigated. It is known that Sierra met someone in Amsterdam who she had met online, but the questions surrounding the trip continue. Ammer R., a friend of Sierra’s on the instant photo sharing app Instagram, posted the following recently: “Yes, she [Sierra] was staying at my place.”

Ülgütol also said this was Sierra’s first trip outside of New York City in her life.

Some 260 policemen searched for Sierra using Istanbul’s city cameras after she was reported lost on Jan. 25, he said.

Body of missing US woman found in Istanbul


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Notice on comments

Çağa Battalgazi

2/6/2013 4:47:50 AM

@Rorschach You have to wrong informations for Turkiye. Please fixed to your things..

young genius

2/5/2013 1:50:39 AM

@Rorschach That's why I wrote, "It is already modern, but it has issues to solve such as these." Erdoğan or the AKP is not doing any justice to the country. Ironically, it's called the "Justice and Development Party". In fact no political party seems to be useful. Right now, the country is going down a dark slippery rode. Erdoğan has plans to build mosques but no plans to build or repair schools and hospitals..

american american

2/4/2013 11:19:14 PM

actually the uk leads the us in rapes and assualts and in total crime overall.

Rorschach ~

2/4/2013 9:29:07 PM

@young genius: You can call Turkey a secular country all you want, but that doesn't make it true. Secular countries don't have a Ministry of Religion, doesn't use tax payer's money to build mosques/churches, doesn't dictate school curriculum, and pay for religious studies in public schools, etc. You may want to look up the word - it appears that you don't really know what it means.....

Brit in Turkey

2/4/2013 6:23:46 PM

Admittedly as a man, but I feel safer walking at night here than in any UK city


2/4/2013 4:35:29 PM

RIP Sarai Sierra, my condolences to her family and friends.

Pepe Ronnie

2/4/2013 4:32:58 PM

She may have photographed something incriminating and that's why the only items taken from her are ones that could have had photographic evidence on them, tablet, phone, camera etc. To all those airing their grievances by blaming Turkey, think again. Just a couple of weeks ago a teen was killed here in NY just for his jacket, by another teen. And to their credit the Turkish authorities and people gave very high priority to this case. Poor woman was probably in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Brian Irlanda

2/4/2013 9:15:24 AM

@Jim Phipps. I think you're going a bit over the top. There is a problem of violence against women here, but for example the US leads the field in murder, mugging and violence. Attacks on tourists are extremely rare here, but there are numerous murders of tourists in the US every year. Making a political point relating to this tragedy is comical. Murat may be right but time will tell. The "secret agent" idea is a bit stupid though! First time outside of the USA? I think naivety played a part.

Nageyec Conduz

2/4/2013 8:23:46 AM

This death has in fact saddened the whole nation and who ever was following it from the TV screens around the world. Firstly our heart goes with her 2 children and the rest of her family. But I believe there are issues that need to resolved before we know the truth of how and why Siera had died.

young genius

2/3/2013 11:44:47 PM

@Jim Phipps "modern muslim country". Türkiye is not a Muslim country; it's secular. It is already modern, but it has issues to solve such as these. Millions of tourists visit Türkiye every year. Unfortunately, Sierra wasn't one of the lucky ones. RIP Sierra.
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