As investigators continue to probe the mystery of two young sisters found dead in the Hudson River last week, police revealed a new detail about the circumstances of their unsolved deaths.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, were found dead on October 24, on the edge of the Hudson River near Riverside Park on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Authorities initially believed the sisters may have killed themselves in a suicide pact, but have since ruled out a suicide jump from a bridge due to the lack of visible injuries.
CBS News reports that NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea revealed one determination from the still-incomplete medical examination at a news briefing Wednesday, saying that the teen and her elder sister were likely still alive when they entered the water.
Both sisters were fully clothed when they were found, and the bodies were reportedly bound at the waist and the ankles with duct tape. Authorities have not said whether the deaths are being investigated as a homicide, but the NYPD is working to find answers to the unsettling mystery.
“We are out to get justice for those two girls and to find out exactly what happened what led them to be recovered in the water,” Shea reportedly said at the news conference.
The NYPD has not yet responded to CrimeOnline’s request for further information about the death investigation.
According to multiple reports, Tala Farea had been reported missing by her family in Fairfax, Virginia, in late August. A relative told Arab News, an English-language newspaper based in Saudi Arabia, that the family called of the missing persons search after they learned that Tala had gone to stay with her sister in New York, where the relative said Rotana had moved to continue her studies. It is not clear if or where the elder sister was enrolled in school in New York.
CBS News reports that police said both sisters were last seen in Fairfax in late September. Additional outlets have reported that both Tala and Rotana were reported missing in December 2017, and that police found them safety in a homeless shelter in or near Fairfax, and did not return the sisters to their family. A relative who spoke to Arab News denied that the sisters had run away and said the Farea home was a happy one. The sisters reportedly moved to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia with their family in 2015.
Earlier this week, an Associated Press report cited New York police as the source for a claim made by Tala and Rotana’s mother that the family had received a call from the Saudi Arabian embassy the day before the bodies were found, ordering the family to leave the country because the sisters had applied for asylum.
On Wednesday, Arab News reported that the NYPD had denied the officer handling the case was the source of that information, and an official from the Saudi embassy “categorically denied” that the embassy had spoken to the family about any possible asylum requests.
“Any/All communication with the mother had nothing to do with a supposed asylum claim,” the unidentified official added.
CrimeOnline has contacted both the NYPD and the Saudi Arabian embassy for comment on the Associated Press report and that Arab News report that appeared to contradict it, and is still awaiting a response from both.