NEW YORK (AP) – Friends and strangers came to pay their respects Thursday to a New York mother of two who was killed while vacationing alone in Turkey.
The viewing for Sarai Sierra was held at Christian Pentecostal Church on Staten Island on Valentine’s Day, which marked the 15th anniversary of Sierra’s engagement to husband Steven, a New York City bus driver.
The 33-year-old Sierra disappeared Jan. 21, and her body was discovered 12 days later near Istanbul’s ancient city walls. Police say she suffered a fatal blow to the head.
“She was very sweet, a good-hearted person,” said Maritza Bermudez, a high school friend, as she left the church. “She was a very joyful person to be around. They say God takes the good ones first, right?”
Marjorie Ryan, a friend of Sierra’s mother, said the family is struggling with their grief. “They’re very strong, but this is devastating to them,” she said.
Mourners arrived in a steady stream while a montage of photos and videos from Sierra’s life played on overhead screens. Her funeral is scheduled for Friday.
“A lot of people don’t know what kind of person she was,” said Neo London, a friend. “She was just a happy person.”
Pastor John Carlo, who knew Sierra as a teenager and later officiated at her wedding, said the family was broken up. “This is reality when you see the casket,” he said.
Another mourner extended his sympathies to Sierra’s two sons, ages 9 and 11.
“I feel bad for the kids,” said Brian Doherty, a co-worker of Steven Sierra’s. “They’re the ones who will really suffer the most.”
Sierra had traveled alone to Turkey to explore her photography hobby. A friend who was supposed to join her canceled for financial reasons.
Turkish authorities and the FBI are investigating her death. No arrests have been made.
Janet Santapau said she didn’t know Sierra but wanted to pay her respects as a fellow Staten Islander and a Christian.
“I just wanted to come by and support the family,” she said. “Just to say I’m with them.”
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development