The bodies of two women found bound together and washed up on the shores of the Hudson River in New York City have been identified as sisters from Saudi Arabia.
According to New York police, the city medical examiner’s office has positively identified them as 22-year-old Rotana Farea and her 16-year-old sister, Tala Farea. The elder had been living in New York, while the other woman had been living with her mother in Falls Church, Virginia, police said.
A cause of death has not yet been determined for either woman, but a preliminary examination showed the women’s bodies bore no obvious marks of violence, according to police.
The women, who reportedly moved to the U.S. from Jeddah, had been out of touch with their family for about a week, authorities said.
On Oct. 24, a passerby spotted the bodies along the riverbanks on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. They were fully clothed, bound together with duct tape and facing each other, authorities said. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities suspect the women somehow entered the river at the George Washington Bridge and then floated roughly six miles.
“They were not in the water that long,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea told the New York Post.
It was initially reported that Tala Farea had been missing for two months prior to the discovery. However, its since been learned that while she had been reported missing on Aug. 24, that report was withdrawn when it was determined she was visiting her sister.
It’s not yet clear whether foul play is to blame, and authorities have not offered a timeline as to how long it might take to make that determination.
“We do not know that a crime has taken place at this point,” Shea told the New York Daily News. “We have a terrible tragedy, for sure.”
Dubai’s Gulf News reported this is the second time in less than a month that the bodies of Saudi nationals have been found in the U.S.
On Oct. 7, the body of 23-year-old college student Yasser Abu Al Faraj was found in his Miami apartment. Authorities said the young man died as a result of multiple stab wounds. On Oct. 26, Robert Wayne Gore, a 28-year-old homeless man, was arrested in the slaying. Gore has reportedly confessed to killing Yasser during an attempted robbery.
Yasser’s friends do not believe the killing was random and have been using the hashtag #JusticeForYasser to discuss the case:
Anyone with information in the deaths of Rotana and Tala Farea are asked to contact the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-8477. Tips can also be submitted by texting TIP577 to 274637.