Two sisters from Saudi Arabia whose bodies washed ashore in New York City went on a spending spree before their deaths, shopping and staying in expensive hotels, police say as they investigate the case as a possible suicide.
Rotana Farea, 22, and Tala Farea, 16, also said they would rather kill themselves than return to Saudi Arabia, CNN reported, citing New York City police sources.
Authorities are still investigating but suicide appears to be the leading possibility.
"At this point in time we have no credible information that a crime took place in New York City,” New York City Police Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said at a news conference Friday.
The sisters, who were last seen by their family in Fairfax, Virginia in November of 2017, had been living in a "shelter-like" facility in Virginia after making allegations of abuse, according to Shea, who added that those allegations have not been corroborated.
They began making their way to New York City in late August using a variety of transportation, including Uber. Once they arrived in New York in early September, they stayed at high-end hotels and went on a shopping spree until the credit card they were using was maxed out and they ran out of money. Some of the hotels cost $400 a night, according to Shea.
The sisters' bodies were found on the banks of the Hudson River, duct-taped together and facing each other, but without any obvious signs of trauma, police said. They were both fully clothed, both in jackets. Water was in their lungs, Shea said, an indication that they were likely alive when they went into the water. They appeared to be duct-taped in a manner meant to simply keep their bodies together, rather than bind or restrain them, he added.
The Fareas were reportedly seen in a video just a week before their death, in which they appeared to be in good health, Shea said. He also said that investigators spoke to a witness who claimed they saw the sisters praying in a playground park near the Hudson the morning they were found.
Officials are trying to determine if the sisters had applied for political asylum.
Their mother told detectives that she received a call from an official at the Saudi Arabian Embassy the day before the bodies were discovered, ordering the family to leave the U.S. because her daughters had made an asylum bid, according to the Associated Press.
Saudi Embassy spokeswoman Fatimah S. Baeshen called that claim "absolutely false” on Twitter.
[Photo: Photo: New York City Police Department]
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