15 February 2013
KARABÜK -- Turkish police are searching the country for a man codenamed “Laz Ziya” or “Ziya T.” who is thought to be the number one suspect in the murder of American tourist Sarai Sierra.
Ziya T., who earns his living collecting and selling used papers, reportedly left Istanbul right after Sierra’s body was found by police Feb. 2.
New Yorker Sierra was murdered while on a solo trip to Turkey and her body was found near Istanbul’s ancient city walls in the Sarayburnu district, leaving a cloud of mystery over who the assailant or assailants were.
According to police reports, after leaving Istanbul Ziya T. went to his sister’s house in the northwestern province of Karabük where he spent three days, leaving after his sister gave him 100 Turkish Liras. He told his family he was heading for the southern province of Hatay.
Istanbul police stretched their investigation to Karabük where they questioned the suspect’s family and took a blood sample from his sister.
The blood sample was sent to Istanbul Forensic Medicine for tests to see if blood from the suspect’s family members might hint at a potential match to the blood found on Sierra’s clothes.
Turkish police also analyzed footage recorded in a Larabük bus terminal to understand which bus Ziya T. took to Hatay if he did in fact head in that direction. It is known that he provided a false name to the bus company when buying the ticket.
The suspect’s sister, identified as N.Ç., told reporters she did not believe her brother was a murderer and refused to respond to further questions.
However, the suspect’s brother Ýbrahim T. said “Ziya T. lives a disturbed life in Istanbul,” adding that the family was financially stable and his brother did not have to work collecting used papers.
Ýbrahim T. echoed his sister’s claims that Ziya T. wasn’t capable of committing such a violent crime.