Sarai Sierra’s dead body was found brutally mangled on February 2 in Turkey after she disappeared at the end of a two-week long trip through Europe and Turkey. One-and-a-half months later, a murder suspect was found trying to flee the country. On Monday, police report that the suspect, Ziya Tasali, admitted to the murder of the Sierra. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Ziya Tasali Admitted to Murdering Sarai Sierra
Police said that Ziya Tasali confessed to the murder of the 33-year-old Staten Island mother on Monday, reports the Hurriyet Daily News. Tasali, a homeless trash collector who lives in Istanbul, said he tried to kiss Sierra, but when she resisted he dragged her into an alcove where they fought for a half hour. He eventually hit her with a rock and when her body went limp, he fled. Tasali came back the next day, stole her iPad and iPhone and covered her dead body in a blanket.
2. Tasali Was High on Paint Thinner
Tasali told police that he was high on paint thinner when he bumped into the tourist.
“I got thinner, the woman was passing by there,” he said. “I hit the woman’s head with a stick. When I woke up in the morning, I realized the blood of the woman and I understood she was dead.”
3. He Fled to Syria
After spending weeks on the run, Tasali fled to Syria. According to The New York Times, he said that when he entered the country he clashed with Syrian rebels. He was shot in the leg and decided to return to Turkey, but was caught while trying to cross back over the border.
4. He Was Flown to Istanbul to Face Formal Charges
Tasali was flown to Istanbul to face formal charges for the murder of the woman. He faces up to life behind bars if he is convicted.
5. Sierra Traveled to Turkey to Pursue Photography
Sierra’s family said she was traveling for the first time outside of the United States for a two-week long trip through Europe and Turkey to pursue a photography hobby. She was supposed to take pictures of the city’s ancient walls and ruins, but authorities believe otherwise as Sierra did not take any camera equipment with her.