Published February 04, 2013
Ankara, Turkey – Turkish police say a New York City woman who went missing and was later found dead in Istanbul had suffered a fatal blow to the head.
Istanbul police chief Huseyin Capkin said Sunday that forensic experts had not concluded their autopsy report on the victim, Sarai Sierra, but that it was "clear" the head injury caused her death.
NTV, a Turkish broadcaster, says 15 people have been detained for questioning in the case.
Sierra, a 33-year-old mother of two, went missing while vacationing alone in Istanbul. She had last been heard from on Jan. 21, the day she was due back home.
Her body was discovered Saturday near the remnants of some ancient city walls in a low-income district.
Sierra's husband, Steven, and her brother, David, have been in Turkey since the beginning of the week aiding government officials in their search.
Steven Sierra gave police authorization to access his wife's social media sites, saying he knows authorities are working hard to find Sierra.
"It's been emotionally overwhelmingly," Steven wrote in an email to the Staten Island Advance.
"But, I and my family must rely on Hope & Faith in The Lord, & not allow fear to rule our thoughts & lives."
The office of U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) has been in constant contact with officials overseas throughout the search for the missing Staten Island resident and released a statement with their condolences as well as praise for the effort put in by Turkish officials.
"Our community mourns the loss of a beloved wife, daughter, and mother of two children; as we are deeply saddened to hear the news of Sarai Sierra’s death," Grimm said. "From the time her family notified us of her disappearance, my staff and I have been working tirelessly with Mrs. Sierra’s family and U.S. and Turkish officials to resolve this case. Today’s news is truly a heartbreaking tragedy."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.