The Saudi Arabian sisters whose bodies were found taped together in the Hudson River in late October stayed in nice hotels, ordered room service and went shopping just prior to their deaths, the New York Post reports.
The new details come as investigators seek to understand how and why the sisters died, although suicide appears to be a dominant theory. Rotana Farea, 22, and her younger sister, Tala, 16, had been living with their family in Fairfax, Virginia, but they ran away within the last year – possibly in an effort to escape abuse.
They were reportedly denied asylum in the United States, prompting the Saudi embassy to order the sisters and their family back to the Middle East. The sisters told at least one witness they did not want to do that, said Dermot Shea, NYPD’s chief of detectives.
“They would rather inflict harm on themselves and commit suicide than return to Saudi Arabia,” Shea said.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the sisters had been in the United States for more than two years, initially coming here with their immediate family. But in November 2017, Rotana and Tala left their home. They did not return to their family because of abuse allegations, and so they ended up in a shelter-like facility, according to Shea.
The sisters later left the facility in late August and made their way to New York City, at least in part using Uber.
“We have that corroborated by some electronic court records — subpoenas and the like — specifically at least one, where they took Uber cabs towards a path bringing them to New York City,” Shea said.
The sisters went shopping in the city and stayed at safe hotels with brands like Hilton and Hyatt; they also spent time at the Knickerbocker and ordered meals through room service: “always two meals,” Shea said.
“It’s important to note: we have them recovered on video in apparently good health during this time,” Shea said. “As recently as a week before when they were discovered.”
By late October, a credit or debit card the sisters were using is said to have maxed out.
A witness has said he saw the sisters on Oct. 24, the last day they are believed to have been alive. They were reportedly sitting together in a playground in Riverside Park and appeared to be praying, according to the witness.
“He described them as alone, just the two of them,” Shea said. “They were sitting 30 feet apart, but he believed they were together…they were making noises loudly that he described as praying.”
A man exercising in Riverside Park later discovered the sisters – bound together with duct tape, facing each other – and notified authorities. Shea said there is no credible evidence of foul play, and exactly how the sisters died is still under investigation.
The duct tape wrapped around the sisters was not tightly bound. Instead, it was “more like keeping them together,” Shea said.
[Feature Photo: Handout]