Saudi sisters in NYC since Sept. 1 after other stops

Saul Bowman
November 5, 2018

"When the complete investigation is done, we'll have a good idea of what exactly transpired", NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said earlier this week.

Tala Farea, 16, left, was found dead with her sister Rotana Farea, 22, in New York City on October 24, 2018.

They were students who were accompanying their brother in Washington, according to the Royal Consulate General of Saudia Arabia.

The siblings had moved to Virginia with their mother in 2015, and the older sister had been enrolled in George Mason University until this past spring.

A post on the center's website - which appears to have been taken down - had noted that Tala might have been with Rotana. They were then located and placed in a shelter due to abuse allegations that surfaced. At the time, Shea said, "It was raised that they were the subject of abuse".

Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, had been missing for two months, after they disappeared from Fairfax, Virginia, in late August.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has not disclosed how the sisters they travelled to New York or where they stayed before they died.

"There is a strong possibility that money was running out", Shea said.

Detectives say the girls may have requested political asylum in order to remain in the US.

But they were wearing westernized clothes, including black leggings and fur coats - a no-no in the arch-conservative desert kingdom.


The bodies were identified as the sisters on October 27.

The medical examiner's office will ultimately determine the causes of death as the investigation continues.

USA officials said yesterday they believed that Rotana Farea, 22, and Tala Farea, 16, were alive when they entered the water, bound by duct tape and facing each other. But the Times reports that investigators said the bodies did not show the expected signs of trauma resulting from such a fall. Shea dismissed reports they jumped from the George Washington Bridge because there were no body marks that would indicate a fall from that height.

"I can't talk about it", she said.

Ultimately, investigators have not uncovered evidence to suggest they were the victims of foul play.

Two immigrant sisters from Saudi Arabia whose bodies washed up on the New York City waterfront, bound together with duct tape, had told people that they would rather harm themselves than go back to their home country, investigators said Friday.

How did they end up in NY?

They arrived in NY on September 1 - 11 days before they were reported missing. The family said they were not in contact with them.

What did the sisters do before their deaths?

"We have them shopping at various locations and again, ordering food at the hotels". Water found in their lungs made it "entirely credible" that they entered the water while still alive.

The location where the witness saw two girls was "a very short distance from the Hudson River", and such that they could have walked right in.

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