Family, friends mourn death of SI mother killed in Turkey - New York News

Family, friends mourn death of SI mother killed in Turkey

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

The friends and family of a Staten Island mom, whose body was found at the side of a road in Turkey on Saturday, are left to wonder what happened. 

She had been missing after going on vacation in Istanbul. Those friends understandably having a hard time coping with Sarai's death – they, like many had held out hope she would be found alive.

Sunday, we learned Sarai died of blunt trauma to the head, but who is responsible remains a mystery. 

"She had an awesome smile, she was very upbeat, very sarcastic, she was a real city girl and I'll never forget her," said Nina Rivera, Sarai Sierra's friend. 

33-year-old Sarai Sierra is being remembered as a vibrant woman and great mom Sunday – one day after authorities in Turkey announced they found her body at the side of a roadway in Istanbul with signs of blunt trauma to her head, capping off a nearly two week search after she vanished while on a solo photography vacation. 

"There's anger, there's questions that we have," said Rivera. 

Among the questions which Sierra's friends want desperately answered – what happened on January 21st, the day she was last heard from and the day before she was supposed to return to New York. 

The Staten Island mom of two had been in constant contact with her family up until then, frequently posting photos of her trip to her Instagram account. 

Fox 5 has some of the last known images of Sierra taken from security cameras in a mall in Istanbul on January 20th. Now more than a dozen people are being questioned according to Turkish media -- this as her friends back home begin the mourning process. 

"We're still uncertain what happened, but she called out to God the last moments of her life." 

Sierra's close friend Nina Rivera was among the mourners attending a special prayer service Sunday afternoon at the Manhattan Grace Tabernacle Church in East Harlem where the Sierra's were once members. 

"Everybody got together, we prayed for the family, for their loved ones, for their suffering," said Ruben Gonzalez, Congregant. 

Sierra's husband Steven and her brother traveled to Istanbul to assist authorities in their search and remain there, but her two sons, 9 and 11 are at home and according to friends still don't know what happened to their mom.

"I know for sure Steven hasn't spoken to his boys yet, I think he wants to do that face to face," said Rivera.

Forensic experts have not yet concluded their autopsy of Sarai's body. We know Turkish authorities are questioning a man with whom Sarai reportedly exchanged emails with while she was in Turkey, but it's not clear if that man is among the group that has been detained for questioning in her murder.

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