Monday, 17 December, 2018

No sign of assault in Saudi sisters' deaths

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Kenny Thornton | 03 November, 2018, 15:18

- The NYPD is continuing to investigate the mysterious deaths of two Saudi Arabian sisters whose bound bodies washed up in New York City last week after arriving from Fairfax, Virginia, on September 1.

The two Saudi-born sisters who washed up dead off West 68th Street last month - their bodies duct-taped together, face to face - had run away from their Virginia home late a year ago and apparently killed themselves after maxing out a credit card at high-end Manhattan hotels, NYPD officials revealed Friday.

"At this point in time, everything we have seen thus far has pointed to other than a crime taking place, but we are not ruling anything out", NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea told reporters.

Tala and Rotana were known to still be in Virginia, where their family lived, until late August, at which point they began traveling north. Credit card records showed them in NY in early September, maxing out their credit card on hotels and restaurant.

He said a witness had told officers about "a story that is haunting him" - that at around 7am on October 24 he witnessed two women kneeling about 30 feet apart near the river, praying loudly for about 15 minutes.

Unidentified family members in Saudi Arabia had previously told the Arab News that they believed the sisters could not have committed suicide.

The mysterious deaths of the Farea sisters have drawn worldwide attention and fuelled rampant speculation and online conspiracy theories in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi embassy in Turkey.

The sisters were found last Wednesday on the bank of the Hudson River.

They were reported missing again August 24. Police wouldn't say how they traveled or where they stayed.

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The sisters were found duct-taped together after washing ashore near near 68th Street in Riverside Park.

Detectives used eyewitness testimonies, video evidence and the eldest sister's credit card purchases for food, hotel and transportation to determine that there likely was no foul play involved in their deaths.

The sisters first left their family's home in Fairfax, Virginia, back in November past year.

They were put in a shelter-like facility in Fairfax, Virginia, because of abuse allegations that came up in their home jurisdiction.

An undated police sketch of sisters Rotana, left, and Tala Farea.

The Saudi consulate in NY said it had "appointed an attorney to follow the case closely", while the Saudi embassy in Washington contacted the family and "extended its support and aid in this trying time". There are also reports the girls sought political asylum in the United States.

As per the Associated Press, the little girls have been identified as 16-year-old, Tala Farea, and 22-year-old, Rotana Farea, who lived in Fairfax, Virginia.

A Saudi official told CNN the girls' mother's immigration status had expired and that USA officials had asked her to leave the country.

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