BREAKING: Police release first photos of sisters found dead, bound together in Hudson River, ask for tips in mysterious death investigation

Do you recognize these girls?

Authorities in New York have released the first photos of the two sisters found dead on October 24 in the Hudson River, their bodies bound together at the ankles but showing no visible signs of trauma.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, the bodies of sisters Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, were found by a passerby on October 24 along edge of the Hudson River on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Authorities have not said whether they are investigating the deaths as a homicide, and a medical examination to determine the cause of death is still pending.

The mysterious deaths have raised more questions than answers as authorities investigate why the sisters, who reportedly ran away from their Fairfax, Virginia, home in December 2017 before they were found safe in a homeless shelter, were in New York at the time of their deaths. A relative told Arab News that Rotana had moved to New York to continue university studies, and that her younger sister had followed her there in August without informing her family, who reported her missing. It is not known if or where Rotana was enrolled in school at the time of her death. She had previously been enrolled at George Mason University in Fairfax but had withdrawn in the spring.

Police sketch of sisters found dead in the Hudson River on October 24

The sisters reportedly moved with their family to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia in 2015. The circumstances of their living situation since 2017 remain unclear, as a law enforcement source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told AM New York that the sisters were not returned to their family after they were found living in a homeless shelter, and may have never returned to the Fairfax home.

An unidentified relative told Arab News that the Fareas were a happy family and denied the sisters had run away, while confirming that Tala’s family had reported her missing after she reportedly went to New York, but called off the search a week later after learning that she was safe with her older sister.

As previously reported, Tala and Rotana’s mother told detectives that the Saudi Arabian Embassy call her last week, the day before the bodies were found, with an order for the family to leave the U.S. because her daughters had applied for political asylum.

On Wednesday, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot F. Shea posted a photo of the sisters on Twitter, and asked for anyone who knew or had seen Tala or Rotana to contact authorities. A spokesperson for the NYPD confirmed to CrimeOnline that Tala’s photo is on the left while Rotana’s is on the right.

Anyone with information is urged to call CrimeStoppers at 800-577-TIPS.