TODAY   |  February 03, 2013

American woman missing in Turkey found dead

Sarai Sierra, 33, who traveled from Staten Island to Turkey on Jan. 7, disappeared on Jan. 21, the day she was supposed to travel home. Police found her body in Istanbul last night and are reportedly questioning 15 people in her death. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>>> in turkey, police are reportedly questioning 15 people in connection with the killing of a new york city woman there. richard engel is live in istanbul this morning. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, erica. still, a lot of history surrounding this case. what police here are saying is that the 33-year-old woman sarai sierra came to turkey last month for a two-week holiday. she was a fan of photography, wanted to take pictures here. it was her first trip outside the united states . she was supposed to come with a girlfriend. the girlfriend backed out. during the trip, she was in regular contact with her family. no indication anything was going wrong. then, on january 21st , the day she was supposed to be leaving, she disappeared. she never arrived at the airport. her rented apartment where she was staying here still had her things in it. a closed circuit television camera showed her walking alone and then she was gone for two weeks. no one had any idea what happened to her until last night. police found her body dumped near the palace very close to the old city and the police chief says that she died from a brunt trauma wound to the head. her family members are still here trying to find answers, trying to find what happened to her. so far, they have not spoken to the media. we are told they are too emotional to speak at this stage.

>> that's understanding. thank you.