Sarai Sierra's Body Released Following Autopsy

ABC News
Sarai Sierra's Two Young Boys Don't Know Mom's Dead

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Sarai Sierra's Two Young Boys Don't Know Mom's Dead (ABC News)

An autopsy has been completed on Sarai Sierra, the American woman murdered in Turkey, and her body has been moved to a church in Istanbul..

A casket holding the Staten Island mother of two was carried through alleyways lined with spice and food stalls to the church, which remains closed while her body is inside.

Sarai's husband, Steven Sierra, did not accompany her body on the journey.

Turkish officials said Sunday that Sierra, 33, who was traveling alone, was killed by at least one fatal blow to her head. An autopsy report, which will officialy rule on her cause of death, is expected within three months, local media reported.

Turkish police hope DNA samples from 21 people being questioned in the case will be key to finding the perpetrators, the Associated Press reported, according to state run media.

Earlier this week, it was also reported that Turkish police are speaking to a local man who was supposed to meet Sierra the day she disappeared, but he said she never showed.

After an intense search for Sierra that lasted nearly two weeks, her body was found Saturday near the ruins of some ancient city walls and a highway. Sierra was wearing the same outfit she was seen wearing on surveillance footage taken at a food court and on a street the day she vanished, Istanbul Police Chief Huseyin Capkin said.

Sierra's body was taken to a morgue, Capkin said, and was identified by her husband.

It did not appear she had been raped or was involved in any espionage or trafficking, Capkin said.

Sierra, who had traveled to Istanbul on Jan. 7 to practice her photography hobby, was last heard from on Jan. 21, the day she was due to board a flight home to New York City.

Further investigation revealed she had left her passport, clothes, phone chargers and medical cards in her room at a hostel in Beyoglu, Turkey.

Her husband, Steven Sierra, and brother, David Jimenez, traveled to Istanbul last Sunday to meet with American and Turkish officials and push the search forward.

"It was her first time outside of the United States, and every day while she was there she pretty much kept in contact with us, letting us know what she was up to, where she was going, whether it be through texting or whether it be through video chat, she was touching base with us," Steven Sierra told ABC News last week.

The U.S. State Department said Sunday it is in contact with Sierra's family and is providing consular assistance.

"Out of respect for the family's privacy, we have no further comment," the State Department said in a statement. "We thank the Turkish government for all their efforts to locate Mrs. Sierra and we will remain in close contact with them as they continue their investigation."

ABC News' Dana Hughes contributed to this report.

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