U.S. family seeks help tracking down photographer last seen in Istanbul

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(CNN) — The family of an American freelance photographer last seen earlier this month in Turkey is pleading for help to find out what happened to the married mother of two boys.

Sarai Sierra traveled to Istanbul on January 7, and over the next two weeks chronicled her time there in photos. Her husband Steven Diaz Sierra said he spoke to her the morning of January 21 — the day before she was ticketed to fly back home to New York City.

But he hasn’t heard from her since.

“This is not Sarai’s character at all,” Steven Sierra said of his wife’s sudden disappearance.

He and Sarai’s brother, David Jimenez, were scheduled to depart Sunday night from New York, arriving in Istanbul late Monday afternoon.

Some of the missing woman’s belongings, including her passport, were found in her room in Istanbul, though her iPhone and iPad were not there, according to her husband. Her Skype account, which she usually keeps up all day, wasn’t active Monday or beyond.

The day she and her husband last talked, Sierra was planning to see the Galata Bridge and the Asian side of Istanbul, he said.

“Imagine going off to a foreign country for vacation, only to never return or be heard from,” read a message on a website dedicated to tracking down Sierra. “This is not a clip from a movie, which depicts the growing epidemic of women missing abroad, but an actual occurrence near to home.”

The missing Staten Island, New York, resident is described on that website as a fair-skinned woman with wavy, light brown hair who stands 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs no more than 110 pounds.

Her husband said the couple had been together for 16 years, and that together they had 9- and 11-year-old sons.

The manager of the hotel in the heart of Istanbul where Sarai Sierra was staying told CNN that Istanbul police officers questioned him on Saturday.

Yigit Yemez said he last saw Sierra the night of Sunday, January 20, but didn’t offer any further details.

The U.S. State Department didn’t offer comment on the case Sunday, but Steven Sierra said officers from the U.S. consulate in Istanbul are involved. Attempts by CNN to reach Istanbul authorities early Monday were not immediately successful.

Meanwhile, the rest of the missing woman’s family back home in the United States is waiting and hoping for the best.

Said her mother, Betsy Jimenez: “I just want my daughter found and want her to come home.”

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