The two Saudi Arabian sisters whose bodies were found duct-taped together near a New York City river stayed at numerous “high-end hotels” in the Big Apple and “maxed out” a credit card before their deaths by shopping and ordering-in meals, police revealed Friday.
Detectives looking into how Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 23, ended up dead on Oct. 24 near 68th Street and Riverside Park in Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood also say at this time there is no evidence that a crime occurred.
“At this point in time, everything we have seen thus far has pointed to other than a crime taking place, but we are not ruling anything out,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea told reporters. Their cause of death is still unknown.
Shea added that he believes “the two girls filed for asylum but [I] don’t know anything beyond that.”
“This is a tragedy all the way around,” he said. “We want to get justice for the victims.”
Police officers also revealed they were contacted Wednesday by a “credible” witness who told investigators he saw two girls sitting in the playground of Riverside Park at around 7 a.m. on the 24th and praying loudly — sitting about 30 feet apart with their heads down.
Shea added that it appeared the sisters were alive when they entered the water and that other sources told detectives they would “rather inflict harm on themselves” than return to Saudi Arabia.
They came to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia with their mother in 2015 and Rotana Farea had been enrolled at George Mason University until this spring. The sisters had been reported missing in December 2017 when they left their family home in Fairfax, Virginia. They were then located and placed in a shelter due to abuse allegations that surfaced.
Police said Friday that near the end of August this year, the girls vanished from that facility and made their way up to New York City through rides in Uber vehicles and trains.
“They were in New York City since September 1st, staying in a number of hotels,” Shea said. “We have them shopping at various locations and again, ordering food at the hotels.”
But as the days went by, the credit card that the sisters had been using maxed out, Shea noted.
“There is a strong possibility… that money was running out,” he said during a press conference Friday.
Police are urging anyone who saw the sisters between Aug. 24 and Oct. 24 — the timeframe of when they left the shelter to when their bodies were discovered — to come forward with information.
Fox News’ Katherine Lam contributed to this report.