Sarai Sierra killed with blow to the head, official says
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
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, 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.
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.