NBC 4 New York
Turkey's state-run news agency says authorities have finished an autopsy on a Staten Island woman found dead in Istanbul and DNA evidence from it has been submitted to a crime lab. Her family on Staten Island say the most painful part of Sarai Sierra's death is having to explain it to her children. Brynn Gingras has the story.
The husband of a New York City woman found dead in Turkey says he's struggling to come to grips with the reality of spending the rest of his life without the woman he's loved for more than 15 years.
Steven Sierra told the New York Daily News his wife, Sarai Sierra, was an amazing and caring person and a loving mother to their sons, 9 and 11, whom he has yet to tell she is gone.
"You have so many plans, so many dreams with the person you deeply love. You look forward to many years together and there are so many things you haven’t fulfilled with that person, and now those won’t be fulfilled," Steven Sierra told the News. "I'm heartbroken."
An avid amateur photographer, the 33-year-old Sarai Sierra traveled to Istanbul alone, her first trip out of the United States, to capture the beauty of the ancient city, from its bridges to its ruins to its graffiti scene. She disappeared on Jan. 21, the day she was scheduled to return home.
Her body was found 12 days later near the remnants of the city's ancient walls. Police say she had suffered a fatal blow to the head.
Her husband traveled to Istanbul last week to help in the search. Steven Sierra told the News he had planned to tell his children their mother was missing on Saturday, but when he learned she was found dead, he said he wanted to wait to tell the kids in person upon his return home.
Steven Sierra intends to accompany his wife's body back to New York.
Prosecutors in Istanbul got a court order Monday for authorities to take blood and DNA samples from 21 people already questioned in Sarai Sierra's death as Turkish police continued to scour the area where her body was found in search of additional evidence.
Authorities have said Sarai Sierra was still wearing a gold necklace, ring and bracelet, but the iPhone and iPad she had taken with her were gone.
Steven Sierra told the News the lack of information about what happened compounds his grief.
"I don’t know yet what went wrong, and that’s the battle I'm going through right now," the husband said. "What happened? Who attacked my wife? She’s a little lady, only 5-foot-2, and very petite. Who did this to her and why? ... I don't have answers right now, and maybe I never will."