Police in pursuit of number one murder suspect of Sierra
New Yorker Sarai Sierra before she went missing in İstanbul’s Cankurtaran neighborhood on Jan. 21, in this handout photo released by the İstanbul Police Department on Friday. (Photo: İHA)
The Turkish police are in search of a paper trash collector whose DNA was extracted from tissue detected under the fingernails of Sarai Sierra, an American tourist whose body was found near the ancient city walls of İstanbul early in February.
The dead body of Sierra, a New Yorker who went missing in İstanbul on Jan. 21, was found on Feb. 2 near the city walls located in İstanbul's Cankurtaran neighborhood. She had reportedly been bludgeoned to death. The police, who launched a thorough investigation to find the murderer or murderers of the US tourist, found tissue samples under the nails of the dead woman during her autopsy.
The police believe the DNA extracted from the tissue found belongs to a paper trash collector known only by the initials Z.T. (46) after they raided Z.T.'s family home in Karabük province and collected a DNA sample from Z.T.'s brother as the suspect had already disappeared. The sample taken from Z.T.'s brother was a close familial match with DNA samples found under the fingernails of the woman, confirming Z.T. as the number one suspect in the case.
Sierra, 33, came to İstanbul on Jan. 8. She stayed for 13 days in the basement-floor room of a small house on Kömürcü Zeynel St. in the backstreets of Beyoğlu. The mother of two contacted her family for the last time on Jan. 21, the day she was supposed to begin her journey home to New York. That was the last time they heard from her.
According to the reports from family members of Z.T., who is known his friends in İstanbul by the nickname “Laz Ziya,” Z.T. went to his hometown of Karabük seven or eight days ago. The family reported that Z.T. borrowed TL 100 from his brother and left. The family members, who were questioned by police, allegedly said Z.T. told them he had to buy his bus ticket using a false name, which also raised suspicions about him. The police are currently trying to determine his whereabouts.
Speaking to a reporter from the İhlas News Agency (İHA) after being questioned by police, the murder suspect's brother, İbrahim T., said his brother was mentally unstable and that therefore they could not refute the allegations against him. He stated: “We cannot believe, or we do not want to believe, but the police clearly stated they have strong evidence that my brother might the murderer of the American woman. My brother has been living on the streets for a long time, and he has been mentally unstable for over 15 years. We don't where he is. He just comes home once every two or three years. He never uses the telephone. He had said he planned to go to Hatay or somewhere near it, but we are not sure at all.”