ISTANBUL (CBSNewYork/AP) — Police in Turkey have released surveillance video of a Staten Island woman who went missing while vacationing alone in Istanbul as investigators interviewed her husband in hopes of helping the search.
Sarai Sierra, 33, has been missing since Jan. 21, when she didn’t take her flight back to New York. She arrived on Istanbul on Jan. 7 with plans to practice her hobby of photography on her first trip outside of the United States.
Sierra’s husband, Steven, and brother David Jimenez arrived in Istanbul late Monday. The state-run Anadolu Agency said U.S. Consulate officials accompanied the two to the police station where Steven Sierra made a deposition to police who specialize in missing persons.
“We’re just hoping to work with the authorities and do whatever it is we can to make it a quick and speedy recovery,” Steven Sierra said before leaving for Turkey.
“I don’t want to come home without my sister,” said Jimenez.
The security camera footage shows Sierra eating alone in the food court of a shopping mall near the hostel where she was staying and walking around the mall, dressed in jeans, a brown leather jacket and a winter hat, her hands in her pockets.
Another image shows her walking along a main shopping street, wearing earphones. Police did not say when the images were recorded, but Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper said the images were from Jan. 20.
Hurriyet, quoting unnamed police sources, said Turkish officials were not notified about the disappearance until Jan. 25 and said the delay was hampering the search.
Before she went missing, Sierra had been in regular contact with her family and friends and told relatives she planned to take photographs at the Galata Bridge — a tourist landmark that spans the Golden Horn waterway and is lined with fishermen.
Police have said Sierra made an excursion to Amsterdam, Netherlands, from Istanbul on Jan. 15 and travelled on to Munich, Germany, on Jan. 16 before returning to Istanbul on Jan. 19. Police were trying to determine the reason for her visit to the European cities.
The family said Sierra’s children, ages 11 and 9, do not know their mother is missing.
Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm is assisting in the case and relatives said they have also maintained regular contact with the FBI and U.S. authorities in Turkey.
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