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Saudi Sisters Found Dead in New York Preferred Suicide Over Returning to Saudi Arabia

By Zack Stieber

The Saudi sisters who were found dead in New York City bound together with duct tape may have committed suicide after all, a top NYPD official said on Nov. 2.

In a press conference, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said that his detectives have developed sources who told them how much the girls didn’t want to return to Saudi Arabia.

“They would rather inflict harm on themselves, commit suicide, than return to Saudi Arabia,” Shea said, describing statements the sources made.

It was previously reported that the girls left their family home in Virginia after suffering abuse. Another report indicated that the girls applied for asylum earlier this year. Those reports have not yet been corroborated by the NYPD, Shea said.

saudi sisters found dead in new york
Tala Farea, 16, left, was found dead with her sister Rotana Farea, 22, in New York City on Oct. 24, 2018. The undated photos were released by the NYPD on Oct. 31, 2018. (NYPD)

No Evidence of a Crime

A witness came forward on Oct. 31, to tell the police that he had a story that was “haunting him.”

The man, who frequently exercises at Riverside Park, where the girls were found, said he came upon them on the morning they were found dead.

He said that the girls were sitting in a playground at the park, sitting about 30 feet apart but appearing to be together. “They were sitting with their heads in their hands, their heads lowered, and they were making noises loudly that he described as praying,” Shea said, relaying the witness’s statement.

The playground is a very short distance from the Hudson River. Shea said the duct tape found around girls was not tight and binding, but only “keeping them together,” indicating they may have placed the duct tape themselves before they entered the water.

While no cause of death has been issued as of yet by the medical examiner, the NYPD believes at present that they may have entered the water alive. There is no credible information indicating that a crime took place, Shea said.

sketches of women found bound with duct tape
Two women were found next to the Hudson River on the Upper West Side of the Manhattan borough of New York City, on Oct. 24, 2018. (NYPD)

Left Home in November

Detectives said that the family of the girls last saw them on Nov. 30, 2017. The next month they were located by police officers and taken to a shelter-like facility in the Washington area due to some abuse allegations that came up.

About eight months later, in August, the girls went missing from the facility where they had been staying. The family said they were not in contact with them.

On Aug. 24, police officers said, the girls traveled to New York City, arriving on Sept. 1.

“We have them staying at a number of high-end hotels in New York City during this time,” Shea said. “We also have them following a pattern of ordering meals, always two meals. Until as best we can surmise at this point in time … the credit card, the money started to run out.”

Video footage showed the girls in good health until about a week before their bodies were found.

 
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