Sarai Sierra Missing: Police seek "suspect" in Turkey in case of missing New York City mother, official says

Here is an undated photo of Sarai Sierra.
CBS New York
Undated photo of Sarai Sierra
CBS New York

(CBS/AP) ANKARA, Turkey - Police are trying to trace a person who allegedly corresponded with Sarai Sierra through social networking sites before the New York mother went missing while vacationing alone in Istanbul, a Turkish official said Wednesday.

Pictures: N.Y. mom missing in Turkey

Sierra, a 33-year-old mother of two, was reported missing  Jan. 21 when she was supposed to begin her trip home to New York City. She arrived on Istanbul on Jan. 7 with plans to practice her hobby of photography on her first trip outside of the United States. Police have set up a special unit to look for her.

A senior police official told The Associated Press under condition of anonymity that Sierra exchanged messages with a person before she disappeared and police were trying to trace the man or woman as a possible suspect in her disappearance.

The official said Sierra "presumably met" the person after she arrived in Istanbul.

Police released security camera footage that showed Sierra eating alone in the food court of a shopping mall near the hostel where she was staying and walking around the mall, dressed in jeans, a brown leather jacket and a winter hat, her hands in her pockets. Another image showed her walking along a main shopping street, wearing earphones. Police did not say when the images were recorded, but Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper said the images were from Jan. 20.

Sierra was in regular contact with her family and friends prior to her disappearance, and told relatives she planned to take photographs at the Galata Bridge - a tourist landmark that spans the Golden Horn waterway and is lined with fishermen.

Sierra's husband, Steven, and brother David Jimenez arrived in Istanbul late Monday. The state-run Anadolu Agency said U.S. consulate officials accompanied the two to the police station where Steven Sierra made a deposition to police who specialize in missing persons.

Complete coverage of the Sarai Sierra disappearance case on Crimesider