The body of a New York City mother of two who was killed in Turkey while on a solo vacation is being returned to the U.S.
Sarai Sierra's remains are expected to arrive Thursday, the New York Daily News reported. Turkish Airlines is providing the transportation for free.
A funeral home on Staten Island has offered free services, but the owner said it's unclear whether the family is accepting the offer. Sierra's husband, Steven, went to Istanbul after she went missing, and he returned to New York on Wednesday to finalize arrangements. After landing at Kennedy Airport, Steven Sierra went directly home to his sons on Staten Island, a relative told NBC 4 New York.
During an emotional news conference Monday, Sierra's mother said the two sons, ages 9 and 11, were unaware of their mother's fate, and the family was waiting for Steven Sierra to return to inform the children about her death.
Turkish authorities concluded that 33-year-old Sarai Sierra was killed with a blow to the head. She had been in regular contact with her family on Staten Island during her three-week trip, which included a preplanned excursion to Amsterdam and a stop in Munich before she returned to Istanbul.
She disappeared Jan. 21, and her body was found 12 days later near the remnants of the city's ancient walls. She was still wearing her jewelry, but her iPhone and iPad were missing.
Turkish police and the FBI are investigating her death. Prosecutors on Monday got a court order to take blood and DNA samples from 21 people questioned in the death, according to Turkish state media.
Her family says she was on her first trip abroad pursuing a newfound hobby of photography. She posted some of her work on the photo-sharing website Instagram, and her page there has attracted thousands of new visitors since news broke of her disappearance.
Her family subsequently set up a separate site where her photos were put up for sale. A post from someone who identified himself as her brother, David Jimenez, said any received funds will go to her children.
Steven Sierra told the Daily News earlier this week he was heartbroken after his wife's death.
“You have so many plans, so many dreams with the person you deeply love. You look forward to many years together and there are so many things you haven’t fulfilled with that person, and now those won’t be fulfilled," Steven Sierra said.