Investigators on Friday shared new details in the deaths of two Saudi Arabian sisters whose bodies were found in a New York City river.
The bodies of Rotana Farea, 23, and Tala Farea, 16, were discovered on October 24. They were both fully-clothed and bound together by duct tape when they were found on a bank of the Hudson River.
The sisters first left their family’s home in Fairfax, Virginia, back in November last year. They were sent to a “shelter-like facility” after abuse allegations came up against members of their family, said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea. The girls went missing from the facility around August 23.
“It was raised that they were the subject of abuse,” Shea said.
Electronic court records indicated the sisters took Uber taxis to New York and arrived on September 1, Shea said. The sisters were shopping, ordering two meals a day and staying at a number of high-end hotels until money on Rotana’s personal credit card ran out.
Video surveillance showed the sisters alone, apparently in good health several days before they were discovered, Shea said.
“There is a strong possibility that money was running out,” Shea said.
Shea also said investigators spoke with non-family sources who said the sisters would have preferred to harm themselves than return to Saudi Arabia.
A passerby who frequently exercised in Riverside Park said he was jogging for his daily exercise routine Monday morning and witnessed two girls sitting together with their hands in their heads, loudly praying near the scene where they were found later that day.
Shea said they were found in an area where they could easily walk into the water on their own volition.
“We have no credible information that any crime took place in New York City,” Shea said. “It is entirely credible the girls entered the water alive,” Shea said.
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