Police on Wednesday released pictures of the two dead Saudi sisters found bound together with duct tape on the banks of the Hudson River as investigators continue to unravel what happened in the hours before their death.
Cops are hoping someone remembers seeing Tala Farea, 16, and her older sister Rotana Farea, 22, in the city before their bodies were found washed up on the rocks in Riverside Park on Oct. 24.
The sisters also had their sandals duct-taped to their feet, police sources said.
NYPD detectives were also in Fairfax, Va., questioning the siblings’ family and friends to learn more about how they ended up in New York City.
“Those interviews are unraveling pieces of the puzzle about what is happening behind the scenes and what was going on with the girls’ lives,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Family members said the sisters had been missing since Aug. 24, when their mother learned that they had left a Fairfax shelter and were seeking asylum in the U.S. The Saudi government had ordered the entire family home, police said.
“We are looking into a two-month gap,” Shea said, referring to the time the victims disappeared. “Detectives have filled in some of the pieces but we are still looking to get a picture of what happened over the last two months.”
The sisters moved to the U.S. from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in mid-2015, sources said.
They first ran away in December. When police found them, the younger sister had been placed in an apartment building — described by some as a shelter — away from her mother, according to arabnews.com. Their mother was told that Tala had run away from her new home in August.
A call to the building management company for comment was not immediately returned.
She had initially reported the teen missing, but withdrew the report when she learned that Tala had gone to New York to be with Rotana, who was already living in the area, family members told the news website.
The sisters lost contact with their mother about a week before their bodies were recovered near the river off W. 68th St. in Riverside Park. One was duct-taped on top of the other in a cross-like configuration, sources said.
The two had not been in the water very long, cops said. The cause of death remained under investigation Wednesday.
With Kirk Jackson