Mystery surrounds deaths of Saudi sisters found in NY

Police said the mother, who was not identified, had received a call from the Saudi embassy in Washington informing her that her daughters had applied for asylum, NYT reported.

The women had moved to the USA in 2015 with their mother to Fairfax, Virginia-a suburb of Washington DC about 360 kilometres from the Hudson.

Tala Farea had been reported missing on August 24, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which noted that she may be with her sister, Rotana.

Police released a sketch of the two women found laying on rocks near the Hudson River off of Riverside Park.

The medical examiner's office was investigating the cause of death. Rotana Farea had been enrolled at George Mason University until the spring.

The mother of Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, told detectives that she learned the girls applied for asylum in the United States the day before their bodies washed up on the East Side of Manhattan from the Hudson River.

The Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in NY confirmed in a statement Tuesday that the Farea sisters were students accompanying their brother in Washington, D.C.

The Saudi consulate-general in NY said it was "conducting a continuous follow-up to find out the facts" regarding the incident, according to a statement shared by Al Arabiya on Tuesday. The lack of obvious trauma appeared to rule out a theory they jumped into the river from the George Washington Bridge.

Anyone with information is urged to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

In a follow-up statement, the Saudi Arabian consulate described the pair as "students accompanying their brother in Washington".

The family, originally from Jeddah, had not experienced any major familial troubles, a relative told Saudi newspaper Arab News, dismissing reports they may had taken their own lives.

As of Tuesday, investigators still had not determined how they died. The statement added that the embassy has appointed an attorney to follow the case closely.

Fairfax police confirmed to that at least one Farea sister was reported missing by family.

  • Joey Payne