Online Friends Of Slain S.I. Woman Hold Brooklyn Bridge Walk In Her Memory
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A walk was held across the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday to honor a Staten Island woman who was killed in Turkey earlier this year while pursuing her love of photography.
Sarai Sierra, 33, went to Istanbul alone to explore her photography hobby. She went missing on January 22 and her body was found 11 days later, near ancient city walls.
The Instagram group she was affiliated with, a social media circle of 30 New York photographer, organized Saturday's walk from Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan.
"She had an absolute love for bridges, architecture, things of that nature," said Yamil Flores, Sierra's friend.
"She was very sweet, easy to talk to, funny," said Lousvette Munoz, another friend of Sierra.
The online group held a similar "pre-winter photo walk" across the bridge in December, and Sierra took part then.
"This was the first place that many of us had met Sarai. We had a walk on December 9, and a month later she left to go to Turkey, and that's when the accident happened," said Robert Cortes, a friend of Sierra. "It was mostly an online relationship but we all communicated probably more than we communicated with some of our friends in our daily lives."
"Cried quite a bit, because you end up getting very close to the people you meet on Instagram," said Flores.
Sarai Sierra's husband and two sons
Sierra's family met with the group for the first time Saturday. Her husband, Steven Sierra, said their support helped him and his two sons cope.
"There's a lot of kind deeds coming my way, and it helps," Steven Sierra said.
Turkish authorities have identified a suspect in Sierra's murder and are searching for a homeless man named Ziya T. Police say DNA from blood found on Sierra's shirt and fingernails was matched to that of a strand of hair belonging the man.
"It's not safe for me to comment on that individual, because I don't know if that individual has something to do with the situation," Steven Sierra said.
He said he remains in contact with Turkish authorities and believes his wife's killer will be brought to justice.
Meanwhile, Sarai's online family wanted her love of photography to continue in her sons. As a surprise, they presented her two boys with new digital cameras.
Even though the walk participants smiled for a photo on Saturday, Sarai Sierra's mother, Betsy Jimenez, said things will never be the same without her daughter.
"Every day I cry. Every day I think about her," Jimenez said.