The woman was found on Saturday in the Sarayburnu neighborhood in İstanbul and had reportedly been stabbed to death.
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.
A man with the Gmail name “Taylan” was an initial person of interest in the case, and has been detained and questioned by police. The Vatan daily reported on Saturday that although the man and Sierra had planned to meet up on the day of her disappearance, she did not show up at their meeting spot, the city’s iconic Galata Tower.
The unusual case of a foreign woman going missing in the streets of İstanbul -- which has a relatively low rate of street crime -- garnered much attention in Turkish and world media. After Saturday’s news, messages of condolence flooded online comments sections of news reports and the Instagram page where Sierra documented her trip in photos.