The Turkish news source Haberturk
reported that a body found today in Istanbul is that of missing American tourist Sarai Sierra, 33. It has been confirmed by Mail Online
. The body was found by an Eminonu ambulance near Kennedy Road, 100 meters from the coast lighthouse, located in the historic city walls in a low-rent district. The body appeared to have suffered a massive head wound and was pushed off a wall. The location is 2 kilometers from Galata Bridge where Sarai Sierra said she was going to take photos on January 21. This was her last known location before she disappeared.
The New York wife and mother went missing on January 21 when she did not board her evening flight home. An amateur photographer, she had traveled to Turkey to take photos. She went alone when a friend who was supposed to accompany her canceled her plans.
Sarai's husband and brother journeyed to Istanbul last Sunday to join the search for their loved one. Turkish police have been cooperating with the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul in an effort to find Sarai. They viewed various video sources that showed Sarai walking around her Taksim hostel, eating at a local restaurant, and shopping at a mall.
Sarai's American cell phone had been activated twice in the last two weeks, after she was reported missing, giving hope that Sarai might still be alive. A Turkish man she had contacted online, who went by the name Taylan, was questioned
a few days ago by the Turkish police and then released
. He said that he did not meet with her at the Galata Bridge.
After recovering Sarai's American driver's license from the body found today in Istanbul, hope that she would be found alive vanished. The Turkish police are investigating Sarai's death, and 11 people, including 2 woman, have reportedly been arrested
. A blanket was found near the body, and no jewelry had been taken. However, her Apple computer and iPhone were missing, so robbery
appears to be a motive. Sarai was likely killed in another location and her body dumped by the old walls which are near a major road and the Marmara Sea. One driver said she saw an older man in a white car dumping a woman's body.
Writer's Note: I have walked many times in Istanbul, usually with my Turkish husband or friends but sometimes alone. It is a beautiful city and usually safe. I often walked across Galata Bridge and explored old city walls, taking photos. My heart goes out to Sarai's husband Steven Sierra, brother David Jimenez, two children (ages 9 and 11), and other family members at this time.