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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Skin Cancer in Arizona: Stats, facts and new immunotherapy drugs making strides
- Caring Crisis: Rising tide In Alzheimer’s disease leads to shortage of caregivers
- Distracted walking injuries end up not so funny
- Scary situations: 5 quick tips before you let a contractor in your home
- Four ways telemedicine is changing the health care industry
- 5 mistakes homeowners make in the spring
- Three rivers run through it: Exploring Arizona's waterways
- Smart home basics: things you need to know to get started
- 5 Surprising things causing back pain
- Arizona agriculture is a $17.1B industry
- Timeline: Arizona's roots in brewing history
- 5 reasons to love the D-backs this season
- Tips for taking your home entertainment experience to the backyard
- Tech-related injuries your parents never experienced
- Workers comp: Signs your co-worker could be a fraud
- Who's the real founder of America's pastime?
- Epidemic rising? What you need to know about Alzheimer's in Arizona
- 5 unforgettable Wooden Award winners
- Family and hard work are keys to success of modern dairy farmers
- Genetic testing could hold answers for colon cancer survival
- Cold beers and baseball: A beer lover's guide to Spring Training
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- Here’s why Gaydos went tankless with his water heater
- Bocce ball and basketball: How you can help Arizona's Special Olympics athletes
- Tips on building the best wine room in Arizona
- Avoid the nightmare: 6 tips to choose a great contractor
- Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain