NEW YORK — Two sisters found dead along the Manhattan waterfront last month led lavish lifestyles in New York City in their final weeks before their money ran out, and previously made comments suggesting they may kill themselves, the NYPD said Friday.
Police said they have found no evidence of a crime, and revealed a witness who reported seeing the two women praying loudly, their heads bowed, near the Hudson River on the day their bodies were found.
"At this point in time, there is no credible information that a crime took place," NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said at a news conference Friday afternoon.
Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, were found dead by a passerby on Wednesday, Oct. 24 near West 68th Street.
Despite initial reports that the sisters were bound together, Shea said he would describe the tape as "not binding them together, but keeping them together."
As investigators piece together their final days, they have determined that:
- The Farea sisters lived in Fairfax, Virginia, but were from Saudi Arabia and had requested asylum in the U.S.
- They faced abuse and lived in a "shelter-life facility" after being reported missing in 2017, Shea said. Additional information about the alleged abuse was not provided.
- The sisters lived at the facility through August of this year before leaving and using a "series" of transportation methods to get to NYC around Sept. 1.
Investigators continue to decipher "numerous volumes of records" between their arrival in New York City and Oct. 24, but have records indicating they stayed at a number of high-end hotels, regularly ordered multiple meals a day and went shopping, Shea said.
On video, the sisters appeared to be in good health as much as a week before their bodies were found, according to Shea.
Then, according to the chief, their money ran out.
This past Wednesday, a man described as a credible source contacted investigators about something that had been "haunting him," Shea said.
The source told officials he was in a playground near the Hudson River on West 158th Street on Oct. 24 when he saw two women sitting about 30 feet apart. Despite the distance, the man believed they were together as their heads were both lowered in their hands as they loudly prayed.
The Farea sisters' bodies had no obvious signs of trauma, and evidence indicates they were alive when they entered the Hudson River, which is a short distance from the playground, according to Shea.
The chief of detectives did not say it has been determined the sisters did in fact kill themselves, but said they had discussed it in the past.
“We also have the sources that the detectives have developed from this investigation thus far; statements made that they would rather inflict harm on themselves and commit suicide than return to Saudi Arabia,” Shea said.
No official cause of death has been determined, and the investigation is ongoing.
Resources: Getting help
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) . It is a free, 24/7 service that offers support, information, and local resources. You can also click here for additional hotlines within your state.