(NEW YORK) — The body of an American woman who went missing while on a solo trip to Turkey has been found in Istanbul, and nine people have been held for questioning, according to local media.
Sarai Sierra, 33, was last heard from on Jan. 21, the day she was due to board a flight home to New York City.
The state-run Andolu Agency reported that residents found a woman’s body Saturday near the ruins of some ancient city walls in a low-income district, and police identified the body as Sierra.
Rep. Michael Grimm, R-NY, who with his staff had been assisting the Sierra family in the search, said he was “deeply saddened” to hear the news of her death.
“I urge Turkish officials to move quickly to identify whomever is responsible for her tragic death and ensure that any guilty parties are punished to the fullest extent of the law,” he said in a statement.
The New York City mother, who has two young boys, traveled to Turkey alone on Jan. 7 after a friend had to cancel. Sierra, who is an avid photographer with a popular Instagram stream, planned to document her dream vacation with her camera.
“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 before he departed for Istanbul last Sunday to aid in the search.
Steven Sierra has been in the country, meeting with U.S. officials and local authorities, as they searched for his wife.
On Friday, Turkish authorities detained a man who had spoken with Sierra online before her disappearance. The identity of the man and the details of his arrest were not disclosed, The Associated Press reported.
The family said it is completely out of character for the happily married mother, who met her husband in church youth group, to disappear.
She took two side trips, to Amsterdam and Munich, before returning to Turkey, but kept in contact with her family the entire time, a family friend told ABC News.
Further investigation revealed she had left her passport, clothes, phone chargers and medical cards in her room at a hostel in Beyoglu, Turkey.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Lorenzo D'Agostino and Hilary Clarke, CNN
Mohammed Tawfeeq and Gul Tuysuz, CNN
Angela Dewan, CNN
Holly Yan and Nadeem Muaddi, CNN