Two Saudi-born sisters, whose bodies were found bound together with duct tape on the banks of New York’s Hudson River, may have committed suicide, according to police.
As The New York Times reports, a witness came forward to say that he saw two young women whom he believes were Rotana Farea, 22, and Tala Farea, 16 at 7 a.m. on October 24 in Riverside Park in Manhattan. The man, who was in the park exercising, said the girls heads were buried in their hands and they were making loud noises, which he described as praying. He reportedly told police that he was “haunted” by the sight of the women.
The sisters’ bodies were found some five miles downriver from Riverside Park later that day. “It is entirely credible that the girls entered the water alive,” said Dermot Shea, the chief of detectives for the New York Police Department, according to the Times. He added that the duct tape was not tightly bound, but was “keeping them together.”
Investigation by police in recent days has revealed that the sisters moved from Saudi Arabia to Virginia with their family in 2015. They were reported missing by their mother on December 1, 2017, and found the next day. They were placed in a “shelter-like facility,” according to Shea, and reports indicate that the sisters claimed to have suffered abused at the hands of their mother, father and brother. These reports have not been corroborated by the NYPD.
The sisters left the shelter in August, and traveled to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia before arriving in Manhattan, where they spent two months staying in high-end hotels, shopping and ordering room service until their credit cards were maxed out.
Police say that the mother of the young women had received a call to let her know that Rotana and Tala had requested asylum in the United States, and referenced the abuse allegations in their application. According to The Associated Press, the mother also said that an official at the Saudi embassy had ordered the family to leave the U.S. because of the asylum application. The embassy has denied these reports.
Chief Shea said the police investigation revealed that the sisters had said they would rather kill themselves than return to Saudi Arabia, a country known for restricting women’s rights. Authorities believe that desperation may have driven Rotana and Tala to suicide.
Read the full story at The New York Times.