STATEN ISLAND, New York (PIX11) – Emotionally shell-shocked, the husband of the Staten Island mom brutally beaten to death in Turkey emerged from a local funeral home Thursday and told PIX 11 he’s finally broken the news to the couple’s 9- and 11-year-old sons.
“I told them Mommy got hurt, and she died,” a crestfallen Steven Sierra told PIX11 News outside the Matthew Funeral Home, where he had just made arrangements for Sarai Sierra’s wake next week. The body of the 33-year old amateur photographer was being flown to Kennedy Airport Thursday afternoon from Istanbul.
Sierra flew to Istanbul alone on January 7th, posting photos with her iPad.
She made side trips to Amsterdam and Munich, before returning to Istanbul January 18th.
She kept in frequent contact with her family, even as overseas reports indicate that she was seen with a “criminal element” in Istanbul.
One report talked about a Turkish man that Sierra met online, several months before her trip. His name is Taylan, and he was taken into custody with 20 other suspects, after Sierra’s battered body was discovered February 2nd, near Istanbul’s ancient walls. According to one published report, Taylan told Turkish police he had consensual sex with Sarai Sierra, the day before she vanished. He denied involvement in the murder.
Sierra’s husband, a New York City bus driver, had flown to Istanbul January 27th, seeking news about his missing wife.
When asked if police had told him anything about the people his wife encountered, he said, “I’m not reading anything at all. It’s too overwhelming.”
Steven Sierra did thank the Turkish authorities and all the New Yorkers who have shown support.
“There’s a lot of sympathy out there and it’s heartfelt. It’s comforting, to some degree, and appreciated.”
Sierra then said, “God bless you” to reporters and got into his can, to make the sad trip home to see his sons.