Officials identify sisters found dead along NYC's Hudson River

Police say they are "unraveling" what was going on in the lives of the two young sisters from Saudi Arabia who were found bound together last week after their bodies washed up on the shore of Manhattan's Upper West Side have been identified.

In New York, they stayed at "a number of high-end hotels" and ordered meals - "always two" - until "best we can surmise ... the credit-card money started to run out", Shea said. By the time of their deaths, Rotana's credit card was maxed out.

The sisters were found tied face-to-face with duct tape at the waist and feet, were fully clothed and their bodies showed no obvious signs of trauma, which likely rules out a theory that they could have jumped together from the George Washington Bridge. In December 2017, they were found, "but they were not returned to the home", Shea said; "they were returned to - I'll call it a shelter-like type of facility due to some abuse allegations that came up". Police say it appears they were taped so their bodies would remain together.

Officer Tara Gerhard, a spokeswoman for the Fairfax department, said the sisters were "referred to services", but she could not specify what type of services, or offer additional details, citing privacy laws.

As indicated by the New York Times, reports suggest that the sisters were reported missing previous year, and when they were found by the police, they were placed in a shelter after asking for protection.

In a statement, the Saudi consulate said it had appointed a lawyer to follow the case "to avoid inaccurate reporting".

At a briefing Wednesday, police said the medical examiner determined the sisters were alive when they entered the water.

At a press conference on Friday, police said they had "no credible information" that any crime took place, but confirmed that their probe is ongoing.

A spokesperson for the institute called the news of her death "tragic", and said the university was cooperating with police.

Did the sisters apply for asylum?

Investigators are looking into reports the pair was allegedly physically abused in the past by family members.

Officials confirmed that at some point the sisters had applied for asylum in the U.S., referencing their alleged abuse. HuffPost could not independently confirm this, and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The man said that he was exercising in Riverside Park when he saw two people believed to be the sisters sitting about 30ft (9m) apart near the waterfront.

"We've made significant progress in piecing together pieces of this puzzle to find out what happened", Shea said.

  • Joey Payne