Monday, March 18, 2013

Turkey: Update--Additional Details on Arrest of Suspect in Murder of US Tourist Sarai Sierra, 33

According to the International Business Times, the likely assailant who murdered US tourist Sarai Sierra, 33, in Istanbul some time before February 2, has reportedly been arrested as part of a joint operation between Turkish officials and Syrian rebels. 

COMMENT: The suspect has been specifically detained in conjunction with Ms. Sierra's homicide stemming from blunt-force trauma to the head. Additionally, he has reportedly confessed to her murder, although the manner in which confessions are elicited in Turkey should always be subject to review.

As most of our readers know, Sierra traveled to Istanbul, Munich and Amsterdam during the inclusive dates of her solo itinerary during the period of January 7-21, 2013. During most of this time she ignored emails from her husband, Steven, from whom she was seemingly estranged.

Although the FBI was looking into Sierra's activities subsequent to her disappearance, there have been no media reports as to what took her to Munich and Amsterdam, but that does not necessarily mean that the FBI is not privy to her activities during those unexplained side-trips. 

Ms. Sierra was found dead on the outskirts of Istanbul on February 2, nearly two weeks after she went missing.

A video clip, apparently recorded in Syria and posted on the Hurriyet newspaper's website, depicts the suspect as saying he was under the influence of paint thinner when he killed the American tourist.

Sierra was due to return home to New York on January 22, but she never caught her flight, prompting Istanbul authorities and the FBI to launch a search for her. 

Sierra was last seen wearing a coat and carrying a handbag. When her body was found, neither of these items were present. She was also not wearing any slacks, although investigators have confirmed that there was no evidence of sexual assault or rape.

Turkish investigators have confirmed that the victim left forensic evidence under her fingernails that suggests that she resisted her assailant.

As I have said all too often in the past, albeit unsuccessfully, many crime victims are injured or killed because they instinctively have resisted a criminal who only wanted property the victim had in his/her possession.

In essence, so many victims have been seriously injured or killed because they failed to realize that NO amount of property is worth your life. 

Although we may never know, it is entirely possible that Ms. Sierra died simply because she resisted a criminal who wanted her possessions. Had she acted differently, it is entirely possible that she might well be alive today.

The fact that Ms. Sierra was not confronted for the purpose of sexual assault, suggests that all the homeless assailant wanted was the property she possessed, including her apparel.

The victim's body was flown back to New York City, where she was buried at the church where she married her husband, Steven.