LOCAL > Missing US woman’s last known contact released following detention


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Sarai Sierra, the missing American woman, is seen on footage taken from the security camera of a shopping mall in Taksim. Screen capture from DHA video

Sarai Sierra, the missing American woman, is seen on footage taken from the security camera of a shopping mall in Taksim. Screen capture from DHA video

After a few hours of detention, Istanbul police have released a man who was one of the last known people to contact American woman Sarai Sierra before she went missing Jan. 21, Doğan news agency has reported. Other witnesses may also be interrogated in the investigation, the authorities said, according the report. 

The man, who identified himself to Sierra on social media sites as “Taylan,” was taken into custody after being questioned yesterday by authorities. The man reportedly told police during his interrogation that the two did not meet Jan. 21, despite planning to do so, daily Hürriyet has reported.

“We did not meet that day, but we had met before,” Taylan said, adding that he had first met Sierra online four months ago.

The interrogation did not take place at a police station due to a specific request made by the witness.

Earlier reports claimed “Taylan” had arranged to meet Sierra by Galata Tower in Beyoğlu on Jan. 20. Chat transcripts between him and Sierra, which led police to discover his identity, were uncovered when Sierra’s husband, Steven Sierra, turned his wife’s Facebook and Twitter correspondences over to police in an attempt to better track her activities during her stay. Sierra had been in contact with four Turkish citizens via the social media websites.

Authorities have decided not to disclose the identity of "Taylan."

Missing American woman used her US phone after disappearing: Reports

Police think there is a good chance Sarai Sierra, an American woman who has been missing in Istanbul since Jan. 21, is still alive after discovering her U.S. phone was activated twice since she was reported missing, according to daily Sabah.

Sierra reportedly made a call using a Skype application on her American phone Jan. 30, nine days after she reportedly went missing. The woman’s phone was turned on once again yesterday, daily Sabah has reported.

FBI, Turkish police share intelligence on missing woman

Turkish police are pursuing their collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Information (FBI) to find Sierra. The real identity of "Taylan" has been uncovered and transmitted to the Turkish police by the FBI, Doğan news agency reported yesterday.

Witnesses claim to have seen Sierra

Meanwhile, members of the public have contacted a foundation for missing people claiming to have seen Sierra before her disappearance, according to the head of the association.

"Some people have come and said they saw [Sierra] a week ago," Zafer Özbilir, the president of the Foundation for Relatives of Missing Persons (YAKAD), told the Hürriyet Daily News today, adding that the organization was directing such people to the police.

Some said they saw her taking photos over the Galata Bridge over Istanbul’s Golden Horn, he said.
YAKAD is aiding in the search to locate the 33-year-old mother of two.

Sierra was supposed to return to New York on Jan. 22 but never boarded the plane in Istanbul, according to airline officials. Members of YAKAD launched a campaign to support the search for Sierra while drawing attention to the many missing-person cases in Turkey.

Traveling around in a bus they call “the bus of hope,” YAKAD members are currently distributing Sierra’s picture and details of her last-known whereabouts to help speed up the process. The bus is covered in photos of missing people, and its activities have helped resolve nearly 900 cases in the past.

Özbilir, who is also a relative of a lost person, said some 3,000 adults have gone missing only recently, adding that searching for Sierra was also helping to publicize their mission.

New footage surfaces

Footage of Sierra walking around Sultanahmet and Taksim surfaced yesterday, and police forces have been looking into the stores visited by Sierra.

New footage of the woman as she was entering the airport while traveling to Amsterdam from Istanbul was also released today. Three days after renting a room in Istanbul on Jan. 12, Sierra traveled to Amsterdam and Munich, Anatolia news agency quoted sources as saying. She returned to Turkey on Jan. 19.

The woman’s room in a Tarlabaşı house reportedly cost her 222 euros, while her expenses through her stay in Turkey, including the trip to the Netherlands and Germany, totaled over $10,000.

The owner of the house in which Sierra was staying said he had not seen the woman since Jan. 20, Doğan news agency reported.

Missing American woman seen on airport cameras


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anikisi anikisi

2/2/2013 11:38:53 PM

Everything is so weird! We need more info on what purpose she took off to Amsterdam and Munich? I also dont understand, in one article it was said she has been seen last time in a hotel, where she left all her belongings and passport. Now an apartment in tarlabasi pops up. I hope she is alive and will be found soon!

Çılgın Kanarya

2/2/2013 11:46:44 AM

MARA, I'm not suggesting that she should have stayed at home, just that she should have taken some sensible precautions, especially for a woman travelling abroad alone. And yes, obviously she doesn't deserve to have anything bad happen to her, no matter how naive & irresponsible she's been. Look, I'm married too, and if my wife wanted to have a holiday alone, I wouldn't object, but I would expect her to take simple precautions. It's about commonsense, not freedom of movement. This isn't backward

ed m

2/2/2013 6:46:20 AM

It's true this makes no sense. I can see getting stuck in the bad neighborhood if you're a budget traveler..but then why would you spend $300 on a plane ticket to Europe while there? That's nonsense. This girl is strange there's something wrong with her. I think they're faking to bilk insurance or donations..a little non-profit. We'll see.

Geir Fugleberg

2/1/2013 11:33:03 PM

This DOO seem weird. Who would check into a flophouse room that looks like its out of hell and then proseed to spend 10.000 dollars on other stuff over a fourthnight?

mara mcglothin

2/1/2013 9:42:29 PM

CILGIN It must be her fault for not acting in a better manner? I guess if she had just stayed home and acted like a responsible wife/mother then things would not have happened to her? Very sad this backward mentality.

Çılgın Kanarya

2/1/2013 5:58:17 PM

She arrives in Istanbul, then no sooner than she's got here, she flies out to Amsterdam, where she meets up with some Dutch guy who she also met on social media, takes photos around Amsterdam with him & then spends the night at his place (yesterday's Zaman), then she's off to Germany, then back to Istanbul & arranging to meet up with more men who she doesn't know. I don't doubt her sincerity, but I just think that she's behaved completely recklessly & irresponsibly for a mature wife & mother.

Not Here

2/1/2013 3:06:39 PM

@ Murat - ofcourse there would be as much attention if a Turkish woman, or Italian woman, or Spanish woman, or African woman.. or man were lost in New York city. There would be as much attention as people put on the situation. What are you trying to insinuate? As you see, this missing person is only a woman, mother, daughter, sister, etc just like any other female would be. It is really disgusting when people bring up such unimportant points as if she is more important than anyone else would be.

lara ulusoy

2/1/2013 2:40:11 PM

Using her phone and skyping when the whole world including her husband and family crossed the ocean searching for her? Come on, it goes without saying that that is not her using the phone! This whole story is really strange. Weird contacts with all those men and her trips out of Turkey when she is supposed to be so passionately crazy about Turkish sceneries?? I think it is something really much bigger than photography, though the YAKAD did confirm 3000 missing only recently. Hope she's OK


2/1/2013 2:24:42 PM

I hope to God this ends well. But for Petes sake, a mother and a wife meets people from online all the way around the World? Alone? I mean what is wrong with this? There are dozens of local clubs and organizarions that she could have contacted for cooperation. Secondly, would there be this much publicity and such a massive search in NY if a Turkish woman were to get lost there?

Not Here

2/1/2013 1:26:01 PM

This story gets more and more strange as the details come out. Just because her phone has been activated only means someone has tried to use her phone. I hope she is found safe and unharmed and I really hope this is not some mess she has created because of a domestic problem or some personal issues.
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