NYPD denies releasing information on slain Saudi sisters seeking asylum in US

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The first photos of two Saudi Arabian sisters whose bodies were found duct-taped together near a New York City river were released Wednesday as authorities continue to investigate their mysterious deaths.

Police found the fully clothed bodies of 16-year-old Tala Farea and 22-year-old Rotan Ferea washed up in Manhattan on October 24.

The family are Saudi nationals from Jeddah.

Police at the bank of the Hudson River last week close to where the bodies of the sisters were found. (NYPD). "Those interviews [with relatives in Virginia] are really unraveling in some way a piece of the puzzle of, behind the scenes, what was going on in the two young ladies' lives".

Police initially believed the sisters committed suicide by jumping off of the nearby George Washington Bridge, but further investigation revealed no signs of trauma that would indicate a plunge from the bridge, police said.

Investigators are still mystified by how and why Rotana, 22, and Tala, 16, made their way to NY from their adopted Virginia home, as well as whether their demise was a weird suicide pact or something more sinister. Dermot Shea, the New York Police Department's chief of detectives, said to reporters this week.

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"We're looking at a two-month gap", Shea said, referring to the time since Tala was reported missing.

The sisters were pronounced dead where they were found along the riverbank, police said.

At a briefing Wednesday, police said the medical examiner determined the sisters were alive when they entered the water. "We are out to get justice for those two girls and find out exactly what happened".

Saudi Arabia's consulate general in NY did not comment on the Times report directly.

Their mother filed another missing persons report recently but withdrew it after she said her younger daughter called her and told her she was visiting Rotana in the city. However, a cousin of the two slain sisters told Arab News that it is ' highly unlikely that their mother would have made such a statement to the police'. The Farea sisters were reported missing again, for the second and final time, on August 24.

Police said the sisters left their family home and were placed in a shelter after an earlier disappearance, in December 2017.

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